Stakeholders seek diversified national communication policy
In a statement released at the end of the meeting, participants observed that National Information and Communication Management have been problematic in the country. This is in spite of the strides that had been made by different governments in the country since 1987 through the initiation of intervention plans to manage national communications. It was stressed that the designs and implementation of these plans had been inadequate and some had failed to pay attention to the need for an all-inclusive policy formulation.
Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye who delivered a paper on ‘Nigeria’s national communication policy and strategy: approaches, policy and possible options’ said although there exist some fragment of communication policies in Nigeria before the establishment of National Policy in 1987; there have been no serious review of the 1987 documentation, clear-cut records of explicit and consistent formulation of communications policies in Nigeria today.
“Many of these fragments of communication policies, which are mainly derived from practice, are usually aligned with national socio-political and socio-economic policy of Nigeria. Therefore, this calls for an urgent critical and comprehensive review of the 1987 National Communication Policy”, he added.
The conference also mentioned that government policies are not sufficiently responding to the communication rights and needs of majority of Nigerians living in rural areas, considering that the growth and diversification of the country are not reflecting in the communication policies.
Signing the statement was the Ag. Director General (NIPSS), Jonathan M. Juma, who stressed the need for integrated and functional national communication policy for the country, which should reflect the constitution, national core values and align extant and relevant policies. He added that there was a need to initiate a conclusive national communication policy for the country in the shortest possible time, saying the next six months would be sufficient.
It was, however, noted that the gaps within the current draft communication policy have been identified, stressing the need to constitute a committee of experts to fill in the gaps expeditiously, using scientific research in line with global best practices.
The national communication policy and strategy, along with a clear action plan, should be reviewed every five years. The action plan should include training, research and measurement of effectiveness. The review process should include government and non-governmental stakeholders, private sector, civil society, and political parties. It was resolved that NIPSS should engage with all relevant MDAs required to expedite the completion of the review of the national communication policy and strategy as well as the necessary action plan.
According to Akinfeleye, a national communication policy would be more holistic and inclusive than a national information policy, saying, “This position is also supported by the submission of Wilbur Schramm that “the structure of communication reflects the structure and development of any society. The size of the communication activities, the development of mass media and their audience, the transfer of the individual communication roles of traditional society to organization”.