“Perception is everything in governance,” the document states.
In my last piece, I promised to tell you more about the PDP strategy document titled “2013-2015: Political power and governance road map.”
Today, I will focus on how the PDP administration is planning to change the perception of people about their performance. A section of the document, “Public perception of governance,” was dedicated for this purpose. The authors of the document acknowledged the importance of managing people’s perception and expectation.
According to the road map, “perception is everything in governance. No matter the quality of work that goes into policy programming and efficient implementation, negative public perception of government rubbishes its credentials and diminishes its laudable achievements and legacies. The current public perception of government is less than salutary, requiring the intensification of public policy communication to broad publics.”
How does the government plan to enhance its image? The document suggests some steps and actions. The following means and avenues were listed.
I. Re-tooling and strengthening the Presidential media, communication and public affairs/advocacy team with the emplacement of a RAPID RESPONSE TEAM for proactive propaganda and quick address of negative media content
II. Weekly, if not daily, press briefings on diverse subjects by both core team members, media experts and top government functionaries
III. Intensification of public advocacy by the ministry of information, NOA, and other government agencies in the form of press briefings, TV and Radio shows, personality interviews, newsletters, pamphlets, flyers, etc
IV. Drawing up a public advocacy template for ministries, special advisers, SSAs, Heads of extra-ministerial departments in such a manner that in each week, at least, four of such officials would have granted interviews and appeared on talk shows/personality interviews where they will not only tackle issues pertaining to their mandate but also weigh in passionately on the political issues of the moment
V. Monthly town hall meetings by ministers, Special Advisers, SSAs, etc, in their state capitals, at which forum they will vigorously engage participants on literally every single issue under sun
VI. Monthly media roundtable by the core Special Advisers-Political Affairs, Inter-Party Relations, NASS Matters, Civil Society, etc during which they will offer wide ranging perspectives on politics, governance issues, the transformation agenda, etc.
VII. Monthly town hall meetings by the core members of Mr. President’s Economic Team dealing principally with economic matters as they affect the political fortunes of Mr. President
If you see the ministers and special advisers very active in the media and in their various states, they are just acting a script given to them. You should also watch out for massive propaganda in the media telling you what the government has done and what the government will do. If you say anything negative about the government there is a team on ground that will respond swiftly. These include social, print and electronic media.
Apart from enhancing its perception among Nigerians, the document also emphasises the establishment of a political intelligence unit, and lists its function.
Establishment of a Political Intelligence Unit
The document says there is an urgent need for the PDP government to establish a Political Intelligence Unit (PIU). The PIU “collates and analyses data on current political power dynamics, the alignment and re-alignment of political forces, maneuvers of political groupings and blocs, emerging political trends, and the strategic trajectory of opposition political forces. It will also be responsible for the deep and strategic penetration of the media, civil society, labour, organized non-state actors, front political structures, and develops time-phased application of multivalent political resources to create a safe and conducive operating political space for Mr. President to ground his vision and legacy in the 2015-2019 governance cycle.”
Specifically, the following were listed as the responsibilities of the PIU.
I. Manage Mr. President’s political profile, defend his vision and popularize his achievements and legacies
II. Diminish the capacity of his “internal” and “external” opponents to hurt his political career and scuttle his legitimate political ambition
III. Design a comprehensive political blueprint with which to penetrate the deepest layers of the opposition political grouping through fifth columnists, spotters, drones, political turncoats and disillusioned insiders to fully understand their strategic calculations, disrupt their plans and thwart their plots
IV. Wage an unrelenting media war against regime opponents and internal traitors through well deployed front organizations and articulate individuals
V. Periodically engage a credible, “non-Partisan” organization for media roundtables, strategy sessions, briefing meetings, etc on the most crucial political discourses of the time
VI. Engage in discreet and subterranean political outreach programme to genuinely disaffected political leaders, patriots and nationalists who feel marginalized and alienated from the current ordering of political power and influence-wielding and who are prepared to rally support for Mr. President
VII. Penetrate the commanding heights of the dominant socio-cultural and socio-political organizations across the country to seek their support or at least neutrality in the emerging political contest, but if impossible design strategic options to weaken them
VIII. Ultimately, to design and develop a quarter by quarter power roadmap that will contain implementable specific political objectives as a run-in to the 2015 general elections
If you think this is scary, wait till you see the other parts of the document.
I invite you to follow me on twitter @aminugamawa
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