The Senior Special Assistant to Kaduna state governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, on media and publicity, Mr Samuel Aruwan, has narrated his story of an accidental spokesperson, explaining how the administration is effectively managing information for a better state.
Aruwan, said the communication strategy of the state government has cantered its messaging on equality of opportunity, the sacrifices required by change.
Aruwan, noting the necessity to privilege ordinary people as governance priority, saying the present administration takes off from the commitments outlined in the state government’s restoration programme, which promised to focus on human capital development through education and health, reform governance, promote investments and jobs, and to reform land administration.
Delivering his lecture during the ‘Professional Talk’ of the Kaduna State chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR),Aruwan, explained that after 16 years of rule by one party, the 2015 election of an APC government in the State meant that there will be a different style and orientation to governance.
He noted that the information management job is being done in a climate where certain persons have become accustomed to blackmail, demonization and abuse of media power for divisive reasons.
Aruwan, said the El-Rufai’s led administration has brought reforms in education, land administration, health, among other sectors which have started yielding results.
Aruwan said:”I am grateful to the Kaduna State chapter of the NIPR for the invitation to speak at this occasion. I really don’t know what to say or share with you in view of your status as seasoned PR professionals, I am wondering how my story will shape our discourse, but I am optimistic, you will find my story valuable and appreciate our struggle for a better Kaduna State.
For a life time I will be grateful to my boss, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, the Governor of our beloved state of Kaduna, who trusts me with this sensitive and onerous responsibility as a young man”
” It is a privilege I don’t take lightly. It offers one the platform to learn and broaden my horizon added with my background as a professional journalist, who has worked as a Reporter and became Bureau Chief of two national dailies (LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group and Blueprint Newspapers Limited) before I was released on leave of absence in 2014 to serve as spokesperson”
“Secondly, since 2015, a thought has been ringing in mind and it’s about, what prompted my boss to appoint me spokesperson in view of the huge challenges at that time. Whatever it is, it is clear I was chosen out of trust and a desire to mentor young minds as public servants. Since I am yet to get the answer, I have considered myself an ‘Accidental Spokesperson’ and do not accuse me of plagiarism and the title of my submission here is ‘The Story of An Accidental Spokesperson”
According to him:”I will start this way. I was born, raised, schooled and I’ve worked in Kaduna as a journalist. I could boast of knowing our state and it’s history until I resumed work at Sir Kashim Ibrahim (Government House) and I suddenly realized that I knew nothing in view of the complexities and dynamism of our state and beyond”
“To effectively understand the terrain and to live up to expectation, I have tried to serve and learn, and it is rewarding. The job is dotted with challenges. Its primary function is communicating with and engaging the public on government policy. The job is being done in a climate where certain persons have become accustomed to blackmail, demonization and abuse of media power for divisive reasons”
“After a successful outing as spokesperson of the Nasir El-Rufai Campaign Organization, I received my baptism of fire as a public servant on my first day as official spokesperson of the Governor and Government of Kaduna State.
On the 29th May 2015 at the inauguration and swearing-in ceremony held at Murtala Muhammad Square, I got messages from journalists asking for our reaction to the killing of five persons in far away Sanga Local Government area”
” About one hour into the ceremony there was an unruly behavior of a certain group of youths towards some guests, which I condemned instantly in a terse statement. After the swearing-in ceremony, on our way to the Government House, I got calls and messages from another set of journalists asking for our reaction on the killing of about four persons in Birnin Gwari. As you can see, one was greeted with these challenges on the first day of the job”
“I will cite a few challenges, we faced during our information management vis-à-vis the deliberate misrepresentation, that our administration has waged a clamp down on the media as follows.
Public policy in the past has encouraged and rewarded identity politics. This has led to the perpetuation of ethnic and religious divisions, as people have come to believe that they can use Faith and Tribe for bargaining. Since the democratic restoration in 1999, we have had Sharia riots, Miss World Riots, 2011 post-election violence, violent attacks in southern Kaduna in 2012, 2013 and 2014, resuming in 2016. Although the curfew in Kaduna metropolis has been lifted, the state is still recovering from the aftermath of the recent crisis.”
“But the Constitution of this country recognizes and upholds individual rights, including the right to live and work anywhere, practice the faith of your choice and to be secure. The legacy of violence in Kaduna State is something that we must overcome. This is not the only diverse place in Nigeria. We must learn to respect the right of everyone to live in peace, and to unite against criminals who menace all of us. We are all humans and citizens, and must all agree that violence does not pay”
Aruwan added: “These are the huge issues, one has been tackling within the last three and the half years as a spokesperson amidst demonization, blackmail, intimidation, deliberate distortion, misrepresentation and a-times denigrated and abused as wicked spokesperson.
There are twin key points, I will love to highlight as the ultimate foundation of any successful spokesperson. The twins are trust and loyalty. Today, I seem to be putting out more fires and possibly not practicing with the principles of Public Relations as taught. Thankfully, many of you know my principal as a very bold, fearless and courageous Nigerian”
“I can frankly say we have been victors of all the above subjections and it has been courage in conviction not certifications that has taught us to be adept at organizing and dispersing information that is devoid of sentiments, bias and prejudices. I have however, learnt to borrow a leaf from my principal on the need to filter the signal from the noise and in so doing, be focused on doing the task at hand, setting my eyes on the ball.
That being said, there have been cases where it was necessary to abide by the very ethics of information management which my office is held by. In such cases, the Kaduna State government has utilized its prosecutorial rights to sue defaulters who have sworn to defame the government”
“As a matter of serving the public interest and to quell fake news, the Kaduna State government has led the adoption of other opportunities beyond traditional sources to disseminate authoritative information directly from the governor and from the Kaduna State government. The personal twitter page and official page for the governor now boast of a cumulative follower base of over 1.4Million from where all state jobs and tenders are advertised”
This is a step in the right direction as a few weeks ago, the Kaduna State government won the NITDA award for the Best State Government in adoption of Information Technology. This accolade has given credence to the work put in by our Media and Communications Department in ensuring the state’s website is engaging with its audience at all times” Aruwan said.