The poor compliance to government rules, policies and even laws by Nigerians including Abians is highly intolerable and repugnant to good conscience. Of a truth, Nigerians are deviants and law breakers. It is irritating and an irony that citizens of the country find it extremely difficult to obey laws and policies of the land even when they are intended for their wellbeing.
A few instances of such anti social behaviours will be enumerated here. Nigerians are artful tax evaders. Individuals and business concerns hardly declare their actual profits. And by circumventing the tax laws, they deny government at all levels the much needed revenue to lubricate the system and provide services to the people.
At will, commuters and motorists flagrantly flaunt traffick laws and rules like obeying trafficking light. The none compliance precipitate gridlock in major city centres across the country as well as cause many avoidable accidents on our highways which have claimed innocent lives. Affluent and wealthy citizens do not abide by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) policy of not spraying and matching on the naira at public functions.
At the moment, the Covid-19 safety protocols introduced by both the federal and state governments following the outbreak of corona virus in the country last February designed to protect the citizens from contracting the plague and stay alive is not being observed. Like the fly that keeps a deaf ear and follows the corpse to the grave and dies therein, majority of Nigerians are disregarding the Covid-19 safety protocols at their own peril. They find it difficult to wear face masks, wash their hands with running water and soap, observe social, sorry, physical distancing and carry the limited number of passengers in buses and keke. It is baffling that a people would prefer to trade the suicidal path than observe and obey simple rules prescribed by the government for their safety and lives.
It is against the backdrop of the foregoing and many other acts of misdeeds of which Abians are not exempted from that prompted the trans generational Governor of Abia State, Okezie Victory Ikpeazo to propose a piece of legislation to the Abia State House of Assembly for the establishment of of the Abia State Orientation Agency. (ASOA).
Underscoring the strategic importance of communicating government policies and programmes to the people and getting them to key in, the forward looking Governor, while the bill was still at the gestation period in the bowels of the Abia House of Assembly, appointed a Director-General for the agency ahead of the passage of the bill into law.
The pioneer Director -General of ASOA is Godwin Adindu, a communication strategist, expert in information management, reputation builder, inspirational and motivational speaker, social crusade and educator.
Conscious also of the indispensable role expected of ASOA in mobilizing the citizenry for effective participation in governance and support of government policies and programmes, the Abia State House of Assembly under the inspiring, energetic, efficient and focused leadership of Rt. Hon. Engr. Chinedu Orji gave expeditious hearing to the bill to establish the Abia State Orientation Agency. Thus, on Tuesday, February 4, 2020, the Abia House of Assembly passed into Law HAB 13, 2020 establishing the Abia State Orientation Agency.
The Law, Law No. 2 of 2020, was assented to by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu on May 28, 2020. Indeed, the birth of ASOA, a brain child of the Governor, is yet another milestone of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu in governance of the state.
As stipulated in the Law, the primary objective of ASOA is to change the negative public perception about government activities and to influence a favourable attitude and behaviour from the citizenry.
Among others, its functions include carrying out an effective orientation and reorientation on the behavioural pattern of Abia citizens and residents to reduce the incidence of anti social behaviour, build,promote and sustain good image for the State Government leveraging on recorded achievements and progress and to interpret and explain Government programmes, policies and actions to build and sustain public trust and support.
Being on a familiar turf, and having done well so far since August 14, 2019 when the agency was created in sensitizing and mobilizing the Abia populace in doing rightly, it is expected that the government should give the Director-General and his agency all the necessary material, logistics and financial encouragement to excel in its assignment.
Above all, in the bid to orientate and rrorientate, both the government and the citizenry should hearken the wise counsel of Muhammad Ali Jinnah who said: “My message to you all is of hope, courage confidence. Let us mobilize all our resources in a systematic and organized way and tackle the grave issues that confront us with grim determination and discipline worthy of a great nation.”
– Isiakpu is a Public Affairs Analyst