By: Oyesiku Adelu
In this preview, I will treat both the messenger (author) and the message in order to give a clearer perspective of the subject matter under reference, ahead of the release of two new books authored by Femi Adelegan on Tuesday April 10, 2018. It is my considered opinion that the messenger (Author of the new books treated here) and the message (contents) must be treated pari-passu.Though I had previously worked actively as reporter / presenter as a youth corps member at the Bauchi Radio and Television Services, Bauchi State, I gathered my real time experience at the defunct Sentinel Magazine, Kaduna, under brilliant minds like Dr. Stanley Macebuh, an intellectual giant and powerful writer, and the current Hon. Minister of Education, Mallam AdamuAdamu; who held sway in succession as Managing Directors of the information outfit. Soon, I left Kaduna for Osun State, when I was offered employment by the Osun State Broadcasting Corporation, Osogbo and got posted to the State House as the news correspondent for the radio arm of the station attached to the governor.
The foregoing was the circumstance in which I first met Femi Adelegan, (my big brother who later became my mentor) then the Chief Press Secretary to the Military Administrator, (retd Navy Captain Anthony Udofia) during a very turbulent period in the political history of Nigeria. We (Adelegan/Adelu) bonded almost immediately, as brothers of the same profession; though very senior to me. I wondered why; but later got to know that this very humble, easy going and talented professional is always attracted by intelligence, honesty, and sound minds. My colleague, Femi Adefila, whom I met as Governors Office correspondent had hinted me that I would enjoy working with the Chief Press Secretary; but should be prepared to be overworked by the seemingly tireless boss. I then commenced another round of tutelage under Femi Adelegan in the art of human and media relations from which I gained a huge experience. Apart from professionalism, I valued the aspect of how he exercised gatekeeping functions and management of relationships with media practitioners.
Over the years, information management has come to be recognized as an important aspect of governance which is one of the reasons why this new book, incorporating political and corporate governance is valuable. At the governor’s office, we commenced the day with our planning meetings that largely featured analyses of previous day’s activities and reports in the media; in addition to planning the assignment for the day.
Six of us were involved: Femi Adelegan, who was the Chief Press Secretary; Kayode Akinsola (aka Principle) who was FRCN correspondent; Taiye Adegoke the NTA correspondent, DayoOlanipekun who was Press Secretary, Femi Adefila (now owner of RAVE FM, Osogbo; and my humble self, OyesikuAdelu. Femi Adelegan told me his strategy was to tilt more towards the electronic media in feeding the public with information about activities of government. And he was so inclined because of the wider reach of the electronic media. Those were the days when there was competition among State governments to get their stories on the network services of the Nigerian Television Authority and the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria was feverish. It was as if the bosses in Abuja somehow rated the performances of military administrators through reports on these stations.
Femi Adelegan has laced the book with genuine examples, and the new book focusses, among others on the citizens rights to know how they are governed in a democracy, and the right of shareholders in an organization to demand accountability and transparency have combined to put those engaged in Governance on their toes. How to balance preferences was not so difficult because Femi Adelegan was a very proactive professional, imbued with the gifts of strategic thinking and planning, aside his very quiet mien and friendly disposition. He would sit for long with Governor’s Office correspondents throwing jokes, but cautiously nosed for possible mischief within the about 30 accredited correspondents. He was highly regarded, partly because he never toyed with, or edited welfare packages due to journalists. One of his strategies, between 1994 and 1997, was to request for permission to stay back in Lagos when his bosses travelled to Abuja through Lagos Airport, because he was more productive staying back in Lagos than just sleeping all day in Abuja. He utilized such opportunities to visit media houses in Lagos, (visit newspapers mornings and afternoons) and particularly spent his evenings visiting his colleagues and friends at NTA and FRCN newsrooms, then with headquarters in Lagos. He got so familiar with news producers and editors that he was sometimes accorded the rare privilege of sending stories to editors whenever correspondents were unavailable.
Without any doubt, this new book on Information Management enables the reader to draw knowledge from an academic point of view, and also provide guidelines for practitioners. The two publications for release Adelegans other compilations titled: Africa: The Game Changers & Dynamics of Power which is also about governance procedures with particular emphasis on democratic governance in African nations; and: Governance: An Insiders Reflections on the Nigerian Polity’. Adelegan submits that: Information management and processing entail a great deal of activity than people generally imagine. Every so often, it is an activity that is taken for granted; a reaction that should not be so. This compilation treats information management and the generic concepts of management, including planning, shaping, organizing, processing, regulatory, appraisal, and reporting of information activities. One of the author’s mentors, the Towulade of AkinaleOwu, Ogun State, Kabiyesi, Oba Olufemi Ogunleye, in his evaluation of the new book stated that he is deeply impressed by the authors efforts.And Kabiyesi Ogunleye is surely in a vantage position to know the quality of literary work done, especially concerning image management and migration matters, both of which pertain to hisexposure and a media practitioner and Aviation expert, having retired as a General Manager of Nigerian Airways. Oba Ogunleye is attending the presentation ceremony as the ROYAL FATHER OF THE OCCASION.
His proactive style of managing information apparently assisted tremendously during his active service years as this helped a great deal in curtailing damaging reports by correspondents and reporters outside the system. And none of us (correspondents) knew that just as we were nosing around for news, the Chief Press Secretary also spied on us. You suddenly saw him suddenly in front of you, begging (not harassing) that the correspondent dropped the story being developed; or at the worst accommodate his own explanations that went a long way in mitigating effects of negative publications. Most times, the chief press secretarys pleas were honoured because he would plead passionately (not as a boss because State House Correspondents had no business reporting to him) and make you see reasons why the story should not go; not forgetting the usual entreaty that my image is tied to that of my boss. Expectedly, there were bumpy occasions like when one of us, media correspondents closest to him wrote a full page negative story on an administrator and went underground for three days. He avoided Adelegan not because anybody would harass him, but to allow Egbons annoyance which never lasted more than a few hours subside; knowing fully that the chief press secretary would suffer the collateral damage.
INVESTIGATED BY SECRET SERVICE
When Egbon Femi Adelegan (as we usually address him) saw the reporter (one of his boys) three days later, he shook his head and they merely laughed over the matter. One of the lessons information managers in government would learn from the book is that they too are under surveillance as aides to top political functionaries. Adelegan disclosed that on one occasion, there were directives from Abuja, unknown to him that he be investigated when negative reports about the military dominated reports from Osun State correspondents. The security chief met him within the precincts of the governor’s office and informed him that: we have just investigated you based on a directive from Abuja and have discovered you are not at fault. Adelegan was baffled, because he never expected such developments, especially considering the fact that he believed he had a clean record and all indices pointed to the fact that he was doing everything possible to arrest the situation. He explains that under the military, such could not be ruled out because of the style of governance. And press secretaries nowadays may also wish to know that all of them might be under surveillance; as aides of politically exposed persons.
The second book is entitled: Foreign Travels, Ports/Border Posts & Immigration Matters. This is also partly the result of Femi Adelegans exposure and experience during his second outing in government between 2003 and 2010; when he headed the governor’s secretariat and had responsibility for Diaspora liaison, contacts with foreign missions in Nigeria, and Nigerias Missions abroad; in addition to overseeing investment promotion. He gained valuable experiences through his relationships with the Public Affairs, Economic and Political Desks of several foreign Missions in Nigeria, while also carrying out the State governor’s directives on cultivating the Nigerian Diaspora for development. His recipe for development in the new book is that: All Nigerians must be involved in the development of Nigeria, as joint partners and stakeholders, by exercising their right at enforcing good governance through legitimate and democratic options, in order to build a greater Nigeria.
VOTER EDUCATION & PUBLIC ENLIGHTENMENT ON FOREIGN TRAVELS
Femi Adelegans preference for proactive steps in handling situations before they occur is highly visible in the book. He did not stop at highlighting problems but goes ahead to proffer solutions. For instance, the author treats the important issue of Voter Education on elections. He also enlightens the public on steps to take while applying for travelling passports and entry visas into foreign countries. The publication strongly counsels against illegal migration, as well as criminal acts and social vices related to migration and border posts activities. Additionally, the new book counsels strongly against false declarations in business transactions at the embassies/border posts, and transactions at ports and dealings with maritime agencies. One cannot but agree with the writer of the Foreword, Amb. Joe C. Keshi, a retired diplomat who submits that This book is A Must Read for all who wish to be guided on how to have smooth passages at border posts in Nigeria and abroad, attaining the objective of doing business with ease in Nigeria
Admittedly, writes Keshi, the book could not have come at a better time than now, when the whole world is united about the need for good governance, and combatting terror; issues that have made nations to continue to tighten their immigration policies, and when the federal government of Nigeria is introducing a new border control and immigration system, while also putting in place operations to ease doing business at the nations border posts. The publication has thirteen chapters, treating various topics like: Steps to Obtaining Visas & Travelling Passports; The Very High Risks of Illegal Migration; Preventing Youths from Engaging in Criminal & Social Vices; Developing Nigeria: A Joint Responsibility and Doing Business in Nigeria. This book is considered a good resource material for training institutions and members of staff of agencies whose roles are treated, including the Federal Ministry of Interior and its parastatals; particularly The Nigeria Immigration Service. Federal Ministries of Transportation & its parastatals; and security and paramilitary agencies.
Others are: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Missions, the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency and other agencies of the Federal Government stationed at border posts, inclusive of The Nigeria Custom Service, Protocol Departments of Governments and other bodies in the private sector responsible for liaising with Agencies operating at border posts. Others are: NAFDAC, Standards Organization of Nigeria, and institutions in the Financial Services Sector. The compilation is also spiced with very useful information like addresses and contact details of Foreign Missions in Nigeria, and Nigeria’s Missions abroad. Private sector operators in general, and individuals applying for visas and passports will also find this publication very useful.
One noticeable and very important inclination in Femi Adelegan’s proposition is his suggestion for the adoption of proactive steps rather than reactive options, in managing information in both the public and private sectors. Same applies to the prevention of social and criminal vices perpetrated at border posts. He suggests that it is always better to nip problems in the bud rather than start employing the fire brigade approach. It goes without any gainsaying that if the campaign about social and criminal vices at the border posts/ports are to be curtailed, we require this type of book compilation that has contains salient information that could persuade intending illegal migrants to halt their plans to travel abroad; while also getting readers to know the true position of the unencouraging situation of illegal migrants in Europe and the United States, that are the major destinations of illegal migrants. More importantly, this book contains valuable information, that would guide visa and travelling passport applicants, and indeed users of ports for commercial activities. It is written is simple and flowing Queens language, for clarity.
I am not being sentimental here; but practically objective. Given the usefulness of this book that is in national and public interest at this critical point in world history when terror and associated ills have no boundaries, it is my considered view that governments at the three tiers, could purchase several copies of this publication for distribution to their tertiary institutions and their employees whose assignments relate to the two books. More importantly, it is worth the dealif the private sector public-spirited persons could consider the acquisition of thousands of copies of the book under their corporate social responsibility schemes for distribution to part of the target audience in tertiary institutions, so they could understand and appreciate the concerns shared in the book. It also useful for reading by Nigerians deported back home from foreign countries who may wish to know some about the practical steps to take to reintegrate themselves back into the society. As asserted by media guru, Dr. Yemi Farounbi in his endorsement, these book compilations are indeed ‘’additions to the corpus of knowledge’’.
The author of this piece, OyesikuAdelu is a journalist, currently enrolled at the Nigerian Law School.