The mandate of the Department of Information and Public Affairs in a few words is to speak to the various local and international publics for and on behalf of the Congress. It is expected to extend the diplomatic frontiers and the reaches of the Congress through teaching, educating, convincing, mobilizing and recruiting members or winning friends in the process. The Department realized that in an increasingly complex and impatient world, the traditional tools for realising these objectives would not be adequate. And so a couple of years ago, it did a memo outlining the requirements for the modernization of the Department, complete with equipment and staffing.
We experimented with WhatsApp reporting and it was well-received. In due course, we added other popular platforms. Today, we can say we have a near-full compliment of the social media platforms disseminating information to local and international publics, letting them know of our interventions in our intra union issues, employer and government issues, national and international affairs, and generally keeping the Congress positively in the memory of the populace.
One of the bold steps the leadership of the Congress took was in applying for a radio license, the process being fastened by a fortuitous meeting with the Director General of the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission at the Ibom Airport. Contemplation is also being had for on-line TV and radio. Similarly, we still have an on-going plan for a studio in furtherance of which a fruitful inspection visit has been made to the Police Headquarters at Louis Edet House which has about the best studio in town, by the department’s head.
Earlier, the Information Department had been involved in the process of dissemination of information via press conferences, press statements, live interviews, communiques, etc.
The department was the anchor in the management of the Situation Room during the national lockdown, a process that ensured that workplace issues or complaints were received and dealt with in the public arena. The Situation Room remains the worker window to the world on covid virus.
On what next to do, the department will continue to play its supportive role of information dissemination and projecting the power and reach of the Congress.
It strongly believes that communication links with affiliate unions and state
councils need to be strengthened. This process involves seminars/workshops/capacity trainings/setting up of ICT platforms for unions that do not have ICT, training of personnel, refresher courses. The urgency and necessity of this cannot be overstated given the need to effectively reach and service the unions real time, full time. Coupled with this, at a time disinformation is a potent tool in the hands of the class enemy, nothing less than effective communication channels with the unions could do. Our development partners could help with sponsorship of these proposed programmes and we are pursuing this link.
In the year plan, the leadership of the Congress is to pay courtesy visits to select media houses in Abuja and Lagos as part of the process of strengthening of our relations. This routine visit is still essential, but must flow with the new normal.
Covid-19 has made digitalisation urgent for corporate and personal communication. The department is pushing that the needed infrastructure be put in place here in the Congress and the unions.
Two years ago, the leadership commenced the process of paying courtesy visits to diplomatic missions and unions with clear results. The leadership shall resume this process after the covid pandemic.
Congress online magazine titled “State of the Struggle” has been unveiled with the following take away:
- The On-line magazine will be a regular monthly feature of Congress. Unions are invited to send contributions ( reports of their activities, pictures, communiques, archival materials, etc).
- Two editions of a regular magazines are to be produced a year: June and December. In the fullness of time, a magazine will be produced every quarter.
- In-house studio is a work in progress.
- Ditto Radio and on-line TV.