The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) today, 19 November 2019, commenced a 2-day Capacity Building Workshop on “New Techniques in Participatory and Collaborative Strategic Information Management”. The Workshop is designed as a platform for NAF Public Relations and Information (PR/Info) personnel to share ideas and suggest ways the Directorate of PR/Info could better meet the aspirations of the Service, particularly in the context of current security challenges facing the Nation. Additionally, given the rapidly changing Strategic Communications environment occasioned by advancements in technology, the Workshop is also aimed at leveraging the wealth of knowledge of information experts to chart a path for the further development of the NAF Directorate of PR/Info.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of the Workshop, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who was represented by the Chief of Administration (COA), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Kingsley Lar, noted that PR undoubtedly plays an invaluable role in management functions as well as the overall effectiveness of any organization, especially in these modern times. According to him, “This is more so as contemporary PR practice has evolved from merely informing the public to engaging them with a view to positively shaping perception of the organisation. Indeed PR is now more about creating value to generate awareness than creating awareness to generate value”, he said. He added that the NAF, being quite mindful of this new paradigm, has continued to leverage the strategic value of good PR through effective information management. This, he said, was particularly critical in sub-conventional warfare, especially counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency, where the support of the local populace is vital to successful operations. In such situations, he emphasized, the cardinal objective of strategic communications must be to continually assure the people that military operations are designed to ensure their safety, security and well-being. “In this light”, he said, “our approach has been to apply a well balanced mix of Strategic Communication, Information Management and Community Relations initiatives that are well coordinated for maximum effect”.
While highlighting some of the NAF’s achievements over the last 4 years, he noted that more than 900 infrastructure projects including office and residential accommodations, messes and recreational facilities as well as schools and hospitals, amongst others, had been executed. Additionally, he said the Service, through the unflinching support of the Federal Government, had been able to acquire 19 brand new platforms and reactivated 20 erstwhile unserviceable aircraft, with another 18 aircraft expected to be delivered soon. He noted that the newly acquired and reactivated platforms have added significant impetus to the fight against insurgency and other forms of criminality in the country.
Speaking further, the CAS disclosed that the NAF, in recognition of the fact that the human element is the most important success factor, has, during the current dispensation, invested enormously in human capacity development. As a result, an unprecedented number of officers and airmen/airwomen have been trained in different categories of air and ground operations, both locally and abroad. “This is predicated on the firm belief in the importance of purposeful training to develop competencies and skills of personnel to ensure combat readiness for the effective and efficient execution of our constitutional roles,” he stated. Air Marshal Abubakar further revealed that the Service has also customized training arrangements with reputable foreign and local training institutions and organizations, noting that the Strategic Communications Capacity Building Worksop was one of such initiatives by the Service aimed at sharpening the skills of the NAF PR workforce. He therefore commended the efforts of the organizers of the Workshop, led by the Chief Executive Officer of Capital Forum Limited, Mr Issa Ibrahim Moddibo, for partnering with the NAF to actualize the Workshop and charged participants to make the most of the opportunity afforded them to acquire new skills and update their knowledge on emerging trends in PR practice.
In his remarks, Mr Issa Modibbo stated that the Workshop was deliberately structured to be participatory and collaborative in nature and concept in order to broaden the minds of participants and enable them assimilate new techniques in strategic information management. He said the NAF and sister Services must continue to learn from history while also looking to the future to develop news ideas and plans for their PR/Info Directorates. According to Mr Modibbo the anticipated end-state of the Workshop is to further improve the professional performance of the participants as they return to their various Units and Formations.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI), Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, disclosed that the Workshop was being conducted pursuant to one of the Key Drivers of the CAS’ Vision, namely; “Human Capacity Development through Robust and Result-Oriented Training for Enhanced Professional Performance”. He observed that it was indeed further testament to the value the CAS places on PR and Info Management, and yet another in a series of training programmes that had been conducted for NAF PR/Info personnel over the past 4 years to ensure more effective and efficient service delivery. “Some of the Directorate’s personnel have been trained abroad in reputable institutes in New York, Paris, Dubai, Istanbul, Johannesburg and London, among others. The Service is also in training collaboration with the African Public Relations Association, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Nigerian Institute of Journalism, International Institute of Journalism, Nigerian Television Authority Television College Jos, Nigerian Film Corporation and a host of other local and foreign organizations”, he said.
The DOPRI emphasized that information management has advanced beyond merely churning out press releases and news stories, but now involves monitoring, engaging and effectively countering/correcting misinformation, while enlightening, educating and changing negative narratives with a view to fostering trust and confidence in the operations of the Service through humane and empathetic communication. He noted that the training would therefore further enable PR/Info personnel to creatively tell the NAF story in an effective manner that would resonate with the public. He thanked the CAS for his foresight in authorizing the various capacity building initiatives as well as for the strategic guidance that had enabled the Directorate to continue to fulfill its mandate.
On Day-One of the Workshop, participants were ‘Introduced to Strategic Communication & Disciplinary Components of Strategic Communication’ by Professor Yima Sen. They also discussed a paper on the topic “Trends and Options in Information Management” delivered by Professor Ladi Adamu. Other papers discussed include “Narrative and Conversation as Information Tools for Public Relations”, “Techniques of Information Management”, and “Setting Clear Information Management Objectives and Developing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to Track Implementation Progress”, which were delivered by Professor Nora Daduut, Dr Sale Mari Maina and Dr Mallam Aminu Ibrahim, respectively. Resource persons slated for Day-Two of the Workshop include Commodore Nabaida (rtd), Dr Gusau Ahmed and Mr Abdullahi Salihu, among others.
Director of Public Relations and Information
Nigerian Air Force