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Audacious Verses By Emma Chukwu

Dr Ethelbert Okere: When Experience Meets Opportunity

The recent appointment of Dr Ethelbert Okere as the Director-General of Imo State Orientation Agency is one appointment where the experience was given high consideration.

Certainly, Okere’s practical and intellectual credentials which are in the public domain we’re highly considered. For decades. This writer, journalist, columnist, evangelist and administrator has displayed a rare spirit of intellectual hard work to merit public commendation, even from his adversaries. This is a clear case of reward for experience and hard work!

His experience came into focus because of the strategic importance of the agency in shaping the minds of the citizens on governance to make them active participants in the government of the day. A disoriented state, which passed through an eight-year interregnum of seeming guinea pig experimentation, crude mercantilism and primordial personalization of power need a revived orientation agency to change the people’s mindset.

It is needless to go on recounting the abnormalities experienced by the state before now but it needs to be emphasised that the state needs an effective and efficient orientation agency in this dispensation to enlighten the citizens on government policies  

and programmes, since enlightenment is considered crucial in making governance and democracy fruitful.

In fact, it is even doubtful if proper orientation project has ever been carried out in the state overtime going by the pervasive ignorance in the state as elsewhere in the country about state policies and programmes. Lack of proper and sustained orientation is one lapse that makes the institution of government to perform below expectations as a result of mass ignorance on state policies and philosophy of government. In Nigeria, 95 per cent of the population are not aware of the Implications of most policies and this creates a deficit in a public response to activities of the government.

It is not that the citizens are not naturally inclined to act positively to state policies and programmes, but the inability to see orientation as key to creating the fundamental awareness needed to achieve participatory governance is responsible for it.

From every indication, nothing showed that government s at all levels understood the fundamental essence of an orientation agency. An orientation agency is like the appetizer that preparer the body system to take a reasonable amount of complete diet for the effective functioning of the body It is the first charge line in the chain of administrative therapies to be administered on a patient to enable a positive response to treatment. An orientation agency prepares the fertile ground for policies and programmes of the government to germinate on the minds of the citizens.

 Therefore, the appointment of Dr Okere is a credible one with the prospects of repositioning of the agency to give meaning to the SHARED PROSPERITY government of Senator Hope Uzodinma.

As an accomplished author journalist and administrator whose credentials are in the public domain, there is no doubt that he would deliver on the job with proper support. Dr Okere has the education, skills and panache to make a difference. His appointment further buttresses es the view of Uzodinma’s admirers that he is determined in appointing technocrats to drive his government.

Besides Dr Okere’s credentials as a high-flying writer who has dominated the media and literary space for more than three decades, his antecedent as Special Adviser on Public Enlightenment in the Ohakim government is a practical credential to demonstrate his understanding of the terrain of his new job.

By this appointment, Governor Uzodinma has also proved that he has a good sense of assessing individuals before assigning them with portfolios. Good sense of the choice is also a commendable quality. A key agency like ISOA with Dr Okere as it’s chief pilot would add value to the business of mass orientation. Fundamentally speaking, the essence of this kind of agency is to familiarize the citizens with the intention s and objectives of every aspect of government policy and programme to enable them to know their Implications and demand s fir such policies and programme to be executed effortlessly.

An orientation agency in its ideal sense has the statutory function of enlightening the public on the various activities and programmes of ministries and agencies.

This vital agency is seen from a global perspective as government’s engine house for dispelling ignorance from the hearts of unenlightened followers of government. By enlightening the people it prepares them to buy into government policies and programmes, including knowing the procedures of executing them.

In knowledge-driven societies, an orientation agency is rated high in making a government work well, though they come under different nomenclatures.

Be it as it may, Imo State Orientation Agency is a very important agency for achieving mass enlightenment and mobilization for the state government, but it requires serious funding to perform optimally. An orientation agency is fundamentally a value creator. It saves the government the burden of leading a mass of ignorant followers and it smoothens the way for state policies and programmes to be understood.

It is like the educator who empowers people with the necessary knowledge and skills to create wealth and influence. Dr Okere’s appointment is like need to a fertile land waiting to be cultivated for increased yields and indeed the opportunity has come. We salute you Dr Okere!

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