There is an ongoing effort to have the Nigerian Army School of Public Relations and Information (NASPRI), at Bonny Camp, on Victoria Island, Lagos, accredited by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Kaduna, as a monotechnic, so that it could run courses leading to the award of Ordinary National Diploma (OND) and Higher National Diploma (HND).
The plan to that effect is being spear-headed by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), led by its President, Dr. Rotimi Oladele, and the Nigerian Army Headquarters, in Abuja.
Oladele said that because of NASPRI’s uniqueness, there was a need to recraft its constitution and define, anew, the vast and rich turf of the NIPR; a turf devoid of quacks – especially now that the country had had nearly two decades of an unbroken experiment with democracy.
The intent is to turn out well-bred professionals, who’d man the Public Relations and Information Departments of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Air Force and other para-military bodies – including the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), highly visible corporate bodies, Federal and State Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), image-makers of Local Government Areas, secondary and tertiary institutions, political parties, etc.
A proposal on what the captains of the NIPR think that an upgraded NASPRI should have as its curriculum and programmes is currently being scutinised by defence policy-makers in Abuja.
NASPRI Director, Colonel John Agim, said that because of the distinguished status of the institution – indeed, as the only one in Africa, and a centre for candidates writing NIPR examination – it was meet that it be accorded the position of a tertiary establishment.
An elevated NASPRI, which was set up in 2006, Agim said, would have, amongst others, an influential role in informing and enlightening members of the Nigerian military, in the mass, on issues concerning respect for human rights, what stake they had in promoting democracy – alongside their constitutional duty of defending the territorial integrity of the country.
The NASPRI move to become a monotechnic is one of the top priorities of the Oladele administration’s second-term tenure, to the extent that the NIPR wants it to be a model for other military and para-military bodies in Africa; a place where – in recognition of the military and strategic roles Nigeria plays in African politics – other African countries may send their security personnel for training and continuous education.
Looking ahead, a monotechnic NASPRI is expected to have an ambitious budget than is presently the case. It may have to have a new befitting permanent, commodious site – most likely in Abuja – with a new crop of lecturers or resource persons, hostels, off-campus lecture centres in places like Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Jos, Enugu and Ibadan.
What refined public relations effects that would be fed, generously, into the graduation of the monotechnic’s pioneering OND and HND products and its first anniversary activities by an elite Oladele-brought-up image-makers is better imagined!
Still, as a sign of good faith, its Governing Council may insist on its account being open to vetting by auditors from trustworthy firms recognised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), if only to command public respect. That, too, may be followed by an institution of Chairs, prizes for best graduating student, award for public relations agencies, whose advice may have been instrumental in aiding a surge and confidence in the fortunes of corporate organisations, political parties, and investments by genuinely public-spirited individuals and corporate organisations in research projects like violence-free elections and the sustainability of democracy, civil disobedience (protest) in a multi-party environment and its effects on public administration, community policing and public relations, the place of public relations in political economy, population increase as a seedy resource for the growth and development of democracy, the position of public relations in the management of government-labour disputes etc.
Oladele foresees a promising future, in which the graduates of an elevated NASPRI would be a new breed, enriched with current skills and behaviour predicated on integrity and transparency.
It’s a move that, Agim believes, would be a good source of revenue for the federal government, while, for Oladele, it promises to strengthen diplomatic ties between Nigeria and other benefitting African countries, just as it would defence co-operation, intelligence gathering, information management and dissemination and co-ordinated campaign against terrorism, boundary disputes, cross-border crimes like human and drug trafficking, pilfering and wilful destruction of urban infrastructure like bridges, electricity lamp posts, roads, bus stations, oil-related crimes in the Niger Delta and the notching menace of kidnapping, rape, child abuse, murder and destruction of farm lands by herdsmen – especially in states like Plateau, Benue, Ebonyi, Abia, Enugu, Anambra and Ondo.
Essentially, all that is aimed at brightening, further, the image for the NIPR as an institution of repute; one to be reckoned with in terms of remaking and strengthening some of the many aspects of nation-building in a 21st Century democratic milieu: institution and capacity-development.