New Paths at the National Orientation Agency. THE PUBLIC SPHERE with Chido Nwakanma

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The website of the National Orientation Agency, an arm of the Federal Ministry of Information, reports: “In furtherance of its preparation for the official unveiling of the Value Charter, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) evaluated submissions from numerous social marketing and brand companies pitching for the NOA CLHEEAN Community projects.

“The rigorous evaluation and selection process lasted two days at the prestigious Transcorp Hilton, Abuja. Submissions came from top-flight agencies who see the opportunity in the new NOA brand and marketing of the social contract the #Renewed Hope programmes offer.
“The DG NOA, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, and a select panel of marketing eggheads led the process. Panel members were Mallam Danladi Bako, a renowned broadcast journalist and pioneer DG of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, Alhaji Raheem Adedoyin, former commissioner of information in Kwara State and managing director of The Herald, and Mr Chido Nwakanma, communications guru.”

The National Orientation Agency’s vision is to “consistently raise awareness, provide timely and credible feedback, positively change attitudes, values, and behaviours, accurately and adequately inform, and sufficiently mobilise citizens to act in ways that promote peace, harmony, and national development.” It will do so by activating its mission “To develop a Nigerian society that is orderly, responsible and disciplined, where citizens demonstrate core values of honesty, hard work and patriotism; where democratic principles and ideals are upheld; and where peace and social harmony reign”.

The National Orientation Agency (NOA) was established in 1993 by Decree 100, now the Act of Parliament No. 24 of 2004. The Agency’s primary role is communicating government policies, promoting patriotism, and developing society.

Sitting through the pitches by seven invited agencies and individuals sparked inspiration and contemplation. The “Andrew, I am checking out” campaign of 1984 hovered over the proceedings. It has been the most memorable orientation campaign in the last four decades. Danladi Bako, chairing the committee, was in the team that produced “Andrew”.

The fact that nothing more potent or impactful replaced “Andrew” is a metaphor for the state or stasis of the NOA over the years. The task ahead requires a Mr Hercules. Lanre Issa-Onilu is an understated fighter of experience, education, and exposure across the terrain.

The Unilag Mass Communication graduate is grounded in media and communication. He earned an MS in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University, United States, and certifications from various courses, including Advanced Public Relations and Media Audience Research at the New York University and one from the reputable World Advertising Research Council. His media trail includes The Herald, Ilorin, where he displayed versatility as a Features Editor and Thisday.

Issa-Onilu belongs to the appropriate professional bodies from our Nigerian Institute of Public Relations through the Advertising Council (ARCON) and the Public Relations Society of America. Significantly, he was the National Publicity Secretary of the APC after years in the backroom as a technocrat.

Issa-Onilu has a nuanced understanding of the role of NOA and the concept of mobilisation. Agreement on values should precede mobilisation, he states. It should also be bottom-up, with the government hearing from citizens more than the other way. Issa-Onilu wants to work collaboratively with stakeholders to develop a National Values Charter as the basis for citizen orientation.

Please give me a memo on it.

Lanre Issa-Onilu expressed his contrarian views to candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu. When BAT transmuted to President Bola Tinubu, he sent for Issa-Onilu with the classical request in management. Please give me a memo on your idea! P&G, General Motors and Peter Drucker popularised the executive memorandum that prioritises, organises, and delivers concise information.

He submitted a memo. Dele Alake called him a few months later to say the president needed his attention. Why? You wrote a note to him about NOA, did you not?

The NOA DG has outlined seven planks. They are the NOA CLHEEN Project, the National Lifestyle Charter, the Nigeria Promise, The Real Nigerian, the Seven Core Promises, and the Citizens Commitment to the Nigerian State.

The challenge is translating these high-level concepts into practice. Considering Nigeria’s complex political and socioeconomic context, focus areas for NOA include promoting national unity and cohesion, enhancing civic participation and accountability, addressing socioeconomic inequalities, adapting to a changing media landscape, and monitoring and evaluation.

The rubrics above subsume so much. Foremost is promoting national unity and cohesion and healing the wounds from the electoral and judicial battles. It must combat misinformation and hate speech by partnering with media outlets and civil society organisations to promote responsible journalism, fact-checking, and critical thinking skills.

Like NOA, Ghana’s National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) tackles similar challenges. A central one is building public trust in institutions to bridge the gap between citizens and the government by promoting transparency, accountability, and responsiveness.

Contemporary messaging from NOA would encapsulate these key concepts and require the collaboration and cooperation of other arms of government. As the morning tells the day, the indications are that NOA will deliver messaging and activities with content and context that resonate with citizens.
NOA is open to receive compelling pitches from Nigerian creatives of every description. Just be creative and apposite.

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