Apparently, the transformation by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) of its then Public Relations Department to Public Affairs Department has had little or no positive impact.
If anything, relations between the NPA and its publics, notably journalists, have deteriorated over the years.
Time was when any journalist could walk into the then Public Relations Department at any NPA location, and get prompt reactions to enquiries. Such happening under the dispensation of the Public Affairs Department has been and remains mere wishful thinking .
In a particular pathetic instance witnessed by Sidelines, a member of the Western Ports Public Affairs Department blatantly refused to grant the request of a journalist to provide him the full names to the initials of an official in a photograph in order to facilitate publication.
Dismissing entreaties from the hapless journalists that the information he sought was harmless, the officious staff had instead explained that it had become standard procedure for all enquiries to be referred to the General Manager of the Public Affairs Department at the NPA Corporate Headquarters, NPA House, at the Marina, Lagos.
It was an unhappy journalist that made the trip across the Lagos Lagoon from Apapa to NPA House.
It was a very unhappy journalist that departed the NPA House, because the General Manager he sought was purportedly presiding over a departmental meeting and could neither see him nor delegate someone to treat his request.
To this day, according to Sidelines checks, that photograph has not been published because the journalist is adhering to his medium’s strict house rules of using only full names of persons, and never initials, in publications.
Going by the resultant effect, thus far, Sidelines can only conclude that the name change from Public Relations Department to Public Affairs Department at the NPA is merely cosmetic. “All na wash,” goes the chorus line from a popular song by a member of Nigeria’s army of musicians.
Will true and positive change ever visit and abide with the Public Affairs Department of the NPA? And, the NPA as a whole?
Will the ‘change’ mantra of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) come to the NPA?
Will the new Managing Director of the NPA, an APC chieftain, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, and the new NPA Executive Directors, who are also APC faithfuls, facilitate the much-needed change at the NPA?
Only time will tell.