19 May

Task before the Public Information Management Committee in Bayelsa State
By: John Idumange
Information management is an umbrella term that encompasses all the systems and processes within an organization for the creation and use of corporate information. Just as oxygen enlivens the human body so does information gives life to any system. In fact, information is the live-wire of democracy and the elixir of good governance. Accurate information is the vehicle through which the policies and programmes of government are articulated and conveyed to the citizens with a feedback loop for policy packaging and review. Like the arteries in the human body, when there is a clog in the flow of blood, the victim suffocates. Similarly, when information flow is interrupted in any administration, the essential corollary is a chimney that emits half-truths, misinformation or outright falsehood.
Translated to governmental administration, information is a two way thing. The policies and programmes of government are communicated to the people from the urban areas to the grassroots, but when there is no feedback, such communication cannot be said to be effective. Once communication is not effective, it creates room for innuendoes, disinformation and in extreme cases, utter propaganda.
Recognizing the indispensable role of information management, Governor Henry Seriake Dickson inaugurated the Public Information Management Committee on Wednesday 20th March, 2013 at the Executive Chambers of the Banquet Hall, Government House Yenagoa. Governor Dickson also seeks to make an enabling law to legitimize the functions of the Committee as a body that should serve as a clearing house for information dissemination.
The Committee was charged with the responsibilities of overseeing the management of public information dissemination in Bayelsa State, through the articulation of appropriate policies and strategies and, to work in synergy with all relevant agencies, professional bodies, Women, and Youth Groups and other Community-Based Organizations. The Committee is to embark on sensitization of the citizens with a view to effecting attitudinal change in the youths through public enlightenment programmes on radio, television and town hall meetings among other community development training programmes.
The Committee is saddled with the task of evolving educational and behavior modification programme to inculcate the virtues of discipline, hard work and positive work ethics in all segments of society. This objective will be pursued by re-enforcing existing channels of communication to ensure that public information is brought to the people accurately and in a timely manner. To this end, Committee serves as a clearing house among all agencies of government to enhance information flow in the system.
Successful information management is underpinned by strong leadership that defines a clear direction of how things should go. In practice, most information management systems need the active participation of all. Though not a ‘silver bullet’ solutions that promise to fix everything, the Committee has started to create much-needed awareness about the benefits of existing government policies as a basis for civil society engagement. This is accomplished through radio discussion programmes, press briefing and courtesy visits. Gradually, community engagements standards are set to enable the Committee collaborate with NGOs, CBOs and Civil Society on cross-cutting issues verging on government policies, plans and programmes.
The starting point is to create a clear vision of the desired outcomes of the information management strategy. This will be followed by a communication plan that describes target audiences, methods and mode of operation.
Efforts must then be put into generating a sufficient sense of urgency to drive the deployment and adoption of new systems and processes. Stakeholders must also be engaged and involved in the project, to ensure there are support at all levels of the society.
Three strategies are being deployed. First is the use of the mass media, including the social media infrastructure, to sensitize the people on the benefits of deploying accurate information to address policy issues. Secondly, the Committee seeks to hold town hall meetings to bridge the gap between the perception of what government and what the priorities of the people are. This will serve as a kind of need assessment that will show a roadmap on policy implementation. The third strategy is to gather a database through the hotlines. Here, people are free to express their views about how they feel about government policies and programmes. The feedback mechanism is very critical to feel the pulse of the people.
To convey accurate information to the public in a timely manner, the Committee is forging synergies with the MDAs with a view to publishing and updating the public of their activities. For that reason, the Committee has a facebook page, a blog and a website, which is being designed to collate data, process and interpret them for purposes of policy making and implementation. The overarching goal is to keep the public in the know about government policies and programmes to avoid misinformation.
The public information Management Committee sues the cooperation of Government officials and provides the necessary information for public consumption. Programmes designed to re-orientate the youths will be mounted to inculcate in them the right attitude to work. This will be achieved through radio and Television programmes as well as periodic town hall meetings. Whereas, government at all levels reinforce transparency practices at all tiers of government. In the final analysis, the task of public information management can only succeed with the active collaboration of all stakeholders. It is the people that will demonstrate the value of the information management strategy and build momentum for future activities.
As the silent revolution gathers momentum, and as Governor Henry Seriake Dickson continues to deliver value and quality of life services, the Public Information Management Committee is irrevocably commitment to promoting, supporting and articulating the policies and programmes of the Restoration Agenda.
It was Martin Luther King Jr who said many years ago that “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus”. The Committee is a molder of consensus for good governance. Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better. With all segments of society represented in the Committee, it is our sincere conviction that this body of 15 dedicated people has the commitment, enthusiasm and perspicacity to change the perception of Bayelsa people through accurate information management.

John Idumange
Is Secretary, Public Information Management Committee



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