Dear Governor Oyetola,
Before I delve into the issues that necessitated the letter, I am using this opportunity to congratulate you on your recent victory at the Supreme Court for the judgment which eventually confirmed you as our governor. However, I am a little bit worried about your civic engagement since November 2018. Like other people in the state and outside, I have seen communication infrastructure deficit. On this, I am wondering about how you intend to fulfill your good governance and inclusive welfare promised during campaign in 2018 and those promised in your acceptance speech.
Mr Governor it is not late for your Media Team to go to the Archives and dig out public engagement programmes of the previous administrations and learn from them. This should not be seen as a copycat, but as one of the means of understanding how the administrations engaged with the indigenes and residents in the state.
Wisdom in the Past Happenings
The administration of Chief Bisi Akande gave us “Labe Odan” (Under the Oak Tree). It was an open public engagement programme which afforded the governor and his team opportunity of meeting people at the grassroots leveraged the indigenous communication system. It used to move from zones and towns to towns. People had both sense of ownership of the government and belonging to the governance structure.
Then, came Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola’s time. His government used “Gbagede Oro” (Words in the Open) a 3-hour monthly mediated public communication programme on state television. The governor then or his deputy would come on air with the retinue of their commissioners to address the people on the state of the state. There was even opportunity for people who were unable to make it there to call in.
Having gained substantial knowledge of the administration of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Lagos state, Engineer Rauf Aregbesola formed Communication Team that changed civic engagement narrative in the state and proved very difficult for the opposition to puncture. For most of his 8-year tenure, he bonded with the people especially at the grassroots.
The state government leveraged both state and private mechanism to click and connect with the people. Mr Governor, your Communication Team needs to revisit Ogbeni till Daybreak of your leader, Rauf Aregbesola. The programme was the centre of his citizen-engagement, though it was criticised by the opponents, the programme still gave all night affair to discuss state issues with the citizenry.
Beyond this programme, his team used every means, especially the access to the state broadcast outfits and other media houses in the state to full advantage. One of such programmes was “Ipinle Omoluabi” (state of the virtuous people) produced by the late Olaiya Adejumo’s family. The five- minute radio and television programme used local folklores, proverbs and indigenous stories to appeal to the people to buy into government programmes. There was also “Bebenlo” (stride continues) aired on OSBC TV. The programme highlighted government policies, programmes and initiatives. The mechanism to communicate with the people during Aregbesola’s era was sound in content, depth and breadth. It was partly a factor in his re-election for a second term.
Mr Governor as your team examines these programmes they should extend their net of sourcing people beyond the government inner circles and party loyalists. There are many Osun professionals who can offer better strategies and tactics towards sustainable civic engagement. Osun has never lacked capable hands for varied positions!
Before it is too late
Mr Governor your Communication Team should see management of your image beyond mere reportage of visits to construction sites, homage to traditional rulers, commissioning of projects among others. You really need local, national and international visibility. This could only be achieved by deploying both digital and terrestrial mechanisms to project you and your programmes.
Yes. I agree with you that you have a competent team. Mr Governor it is instructive to note that there are many indigenes who have a better understanding of the happenings through scientific approaches and have recently worked on the campaign activities that produced you as governor. In the face of the emerging politicians-induced social media users, it is highly imperative that you consider professionals who will be ready to share the right insights with you without tinge.
The consequences will be enormous on your personality and activities. For instance, emotional laden messages will have severe impact on your personality like what happened during campaign in 2018. Mr Governor you should also expect a legitimacy deficit, which has the tendency of jeopardising your second term ambition. Failure to have a public enlightenment programme, where you and your executive members, communicate with the people frequently on issues of state importance would lead to complicated sympathy and making solving government-citizens crisis difficult to disentangle.
Additional Information by Rasheed Adebiyi, Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria