Monday, 24 June 2019

DOPT-gate: Did Dr Aye Henshaw really write that ill-fated press release?

Dr Aye Henshaw (R) permanent secretary, Ministry of Information and Cultural Orientation, Cross River State 
24 June 2019 

The Department of Public Transportation, DOPT has been serially faulted for its gross inability to publish a well written press release in respect of the DOPT-gate of last week where DOPT staff were reportedly involved in the death of a petty trader in Calabar metropolis. 

Following the death of Mr Michael the late trader, two press releases have been published on behalf of the government department, DOPT with condemnable errors —the first wasn't signed by anyone not even the DOPT DG while the second was reportedly signed by the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Information, Dr Aye Henshaw Jnr. Both releases were examples of a mistake in public offices and public relations. The second has caused Nigerians resident in Cross River State to challenge whether Dr Henshaw really wrote the second release. One of such criticism is coming from Jonathan Abang Ugbal of CRW. 

Jonathan has observed errors in five paragraphs and has been forced to make over ten observations of the perceived errors:

Hear him out: 'Paragraph 1: Cross River State Government Commisserate with family of late Michael, a trader killed in Calabar - The Cross River State Government has consoled with the family of late Michael, a trader who lost his life on Friday in Calabar during a disagreement with officials from the Department of Public Transportation (DOPT).

'1. The definite article "The," is missing between "with" and "family."
2. Aye Henshaw would have found out Mr. Michael's details (especially his surname, unless it will be a tactic to ensure the conversation does not go far as part of damage control).

'Paragraph 2: The state government describe the incident as painful and untimely, happening to a bread winner of a family who went out for his daily business.

1. The use of the verb "describe" in place of its derivatives, "described" and "describes" is wrong. 
2. What is, "painful and untimely?"

'Paragraph 3: The government is assuring the family that all necessary steps will be taken to ensure that those involved in the death of Michael are brought to book and made to face the necessary punishment.

'1. It should have ended in "brought to book." What is "face the necessary punishment?" Is that not declaring the suspects guilty already?

'Paragraph 4: In view of this, the government has directed the Acting Chairman of DOPT to investigate the matter and bring all those involved in the incident to the police for trial and prosecution with a view to serve justice to the family.

'1. Who gave the directive? Who is the Government? There are authorities within that authority called "government." Was it the Governor? His Deputy? Acting Chief of Staff?
'2. Who is "acting Chairman" of DOPT? Does DOPT have a Special Adviser or Director General? (I recall the statement by Mr. Martins Orim, it read "acting Director General of the Department of Public Transportation."

Second unfortunate press release 

First regrettable press release 

'Examine this line once more... "bring all those involved in the incident to the police for trial and prosecution with a view to serve justice to the family."

'1. Is the Police a Court?
2. Is the DOPT a public prosecutor?
3. Is the State not concluding hastily by saying, "with a view to serve justice to the family?"

'Paragraph 5: The state government however, called for calm and order as steps are taken to unravel the remote causes of the clash that led to his death.

'1. What unraveling is there if it was "a disagreement with officials from... (refer to Paragraph 1)"

'Conclusion: Ayi Henshaw
Permanent Secretary Ministry of Information CRS.

'1. How on earth will you convince me that Aye Henshaw does now know how to spell his own name?' 

While it is obvious that Henshaw a seasoned and senior journalist did not write that hogwash, there has been call on His Excellency the Executive Governor of Cross River State to make important appointments especially Secretary to the State Government SSG, Chief Press Secretary CPS, and Chief Protocol Officer CPO. We only have a Chief of Staff and other DGs, etc. No Commissioners. The concern here is Chief Press Secretary. 

But more importantly, the DOPT should have a professional public relations officer. According to one Tom Alims who decried the situation, 'It's so sad that DOPT does not have a professional Public Relations Officer.

'Since the crisis of yesterday happened, two persons have attempted writing some "official statements" - one as a Press Release and the other from a guy who says he has been the one making official publications online unbehalf (sic) of the Agency. Both statements have even done more harm to the Agency and it's DG than what the authors would ever imagine.

'Truth is, the PR function is not one for any kind of person in an organization - mostly in a "crisis situation."... Agencies of Government operating without professional Public Relations Officers in Cross River State should learn some lessons from this case and create such office and employ competent hands to man it.' 

Inyali Peter a Mass Communication teacher has this to say, '
Communication is a very complex process therefore those commision to speak for government must be trained to understand the basic rudiments of public relations.

'In Nigeria people don't seem to appreciate the importance of hiring qualified PR managers to speak for government or some VIPs.

'Not every good writer is a good PR manager and not every good PR manager is a good journalist, therefore PR jobs should be left for PR professionals alone.... The most relevant skill in PR practice is crises communication skills which sadly is lacking in most spokespersons of government at all levels in Nigeria.'

Public relations should be given priority in this present administration as well as justice for the late trader, Michael. 

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