The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun said on Friday that the party must begin now to articulate its achievement no at the federal and state levels and not wait for the 2019 general elections before doing so.
Addressing Party’s Publicity Secretaries from the 36 states and the FCT at a two-day workshop sponsored by the International Republican Institute (IRI), Chief Oyegun said the party must begin now to prepare for the next election by constantly and effectively communicating the achievements and plans our state governments to the people.
According to him, it is the responsibility of the publicity Secretaries to convince the people to continue to support the policies and programmes of the Government both at the states and federal levels, while selling the party vision to the people.
He told the, that as “spokespersons, you are the face and voice of the Party. You are the ones that the media and the public deal with most frequently. This has serious implication for the Party, our success or failure to a large extent depends on how well you are able to do your job.
“Accordingly, if for any reason the people are not happy with the party, the spokesperson is often the one who bears the brunt. He is criticised and railed against as a liar or even worse, called unprintable names.But in spite of this, he still has to do his job
But in spite of this, he still has to do his job which is that of effectively communicating the Party’s vision and plans in a way that it is acceptable to the public.
As you are aware, our Party is the first in the history of Nigeria to unseat a ruling party. We achieved that feat because of what you did and because of the effectiveness of our communication system across the states. We were able to sell the Change agenda to Nigerians, a message of hope and true transformation built on efficient management of government resources.
“Now that we are no longer in the opposition, but have formed the government at the federal level and in 24 states, there is more work to be done.
We need to sell our programmes and vision to our people even with greater vigour. We need to convince them to support the policies and programmes of the Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We need to properly articulate the achievements of our respective state governments and sell the programmes of our Party to the people. We do not have to wait until the next election cycle to do this. This
> is the time to prepare for the next election by constantly and effectively communicating the achievements and plans our state governments to the people.
“In this digital age, there has been an explosion of the mass media channels. In fact, it is very difficult to catch up with the information in the media these days, not to talk of the challenge of fake news that abounds everywhere.
“This has made the job of the Publicity Secretary even more complex. You have to be wary of what you respond to, and how you respond. The world is changing fast and we must also change the way we do things to continue to be relevant and effective.”
Country Director of the International Republican Institute (IRI), Sentell Barnes said an assessment conducted by the institute after the 2015 general election revealed that while only the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and APC clearly separated the responsibilities for internal and external communication, none of the parties has a written communication plan and strategy.
He said further that though the report observed that political parties are resorting to the use of new media platforms over and above the traditional media channels, it is interesting to note that none of the party reviews the content of its website to reflect it ideology, aims or address strategic party issues.
He stressed that a strong party-based communications provide vital avenues for public participation and connecting leaders and elected officials around common programs.
According to him, “Nigeria witnessed a remarkable political change nearly two years ago when for the first time in its political history, an opposition political party defeated a government whose party has held power for over 16 years. Many factors may have been considered as responsible for the feat but one which I consider prominent among them was the practical effort at communicating the party manifesto to the public.”
He disclosed that the workshop is expected to explore the communication channels that the party can use to strengthen their links with citizens by developing communication policies that will promote dissemination of party-based information through effective coordination of internal and external of the party.
In his remarks, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi said the it was important for the party and its spokesperson to recognise the critical challenge in making transiting between how to handled party communication in the time of war, which election more or less is and how we handle party communication when you form government.
According to him, the party at the national level has benefitted from this transition by changing communication leadership at the national level from wartime to peace time, adding that people will now hold us to account for those promises that we made, People will recall that we were a party in opposition and there were things that we said as a party in opposition that presumed that we were operating on higher moral grounds.
“Now that we are in government, people will want to hold us to the same, if not higher standards. People will ask questions. Some will ask nicely, some will not. If they ask nicely, how do we respond? If they don’t ask nicely, how do we respond?
“For me, these are questions that I have struggled with. But one thing that is clear to me is that my job will be easier if I don’t see anyone who criticises the party as the enemy of the party. It is to presume that the criticism that I receive are well-intentioned, even if they are not.
“Treat them as well intentioned and therefore stick to the facts available to you. I know how much I have struggled to do this and I know that the aggregate of the party’s performance at the national level is the performance of all of you across the country.”