Experts Identify Communication Deficiency among Causes of Unrest in Nigeria

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By Raheem Akingbolu

Practitioners in the nation’s marketing communication space have identified trust deficit and lack of adequate and effective communication on the part of policymakers as key factors responsible for the rising incidence of social unrests in the country, especially the recent protests against police brutality and bad governance.

In separate interviews with THISDAY, two leading practitioners, argued that the government at the centre would have been able to quickly nip the recent protests in the bud, if it had effectively communicated with the agitators, and won their trusts at the early stages of the protests.

The Chief Executive Officer of Noah’s Ark, a Lagos-based integrated marketing communication agency, Mr. Lanre Adisa, who called for effective communication to prevent a likely crisis in the future faulted the timing of response to the last crisis by the federal government.

Besides, he stated, such communications must be able to show some compassion from the leaders to the governed, so as to make it effective.

“We’ve always had our concerns on information management on the side of government. I think there is the need for that compassionate behavior on the part of government to the governed.

“There is the need to speak up, when it matters. I don’t think the government has to wait till eternity, and be called by other arms of government and the international communities, before doing that,” Adisa stated.

He also stressed the need for government to always ‘come clean’ in its activities, arguing that remained the only way to address the issue of trust between it and the Nigerian public.

“There is a missing sense of compassion when we are supposed to need it more, communication gap is also a problem and the level of trust is also very low,” he stated.

The President of the Outdoor Advertisers’ Association of Nigeria (OAAN), Mr. Emmanuel Ajufo, would however blame the crisis more on trust deficit, than communication deficiency.

According to him, while the government had been engaging with the youths, acceding to their five-point demand, the demonstrators failed to shift ground because they did not have trust in the government to deliver on those promises.

“I think it has to do with more of trust deficit than communication gap. Government actually engaged them, though it might be below our expectations, and it even acceded to their five-point demand. But the fact remains that they never had trust in the government to fulfill those things, that was why the crisis lingered,” he stated.

The OAAN boss added that though the practitioners in the nation’s marketing communication industry had made their position known through the industry’s heads of sectoral group, he however expressed the readiness of the nation’s out of home sector to support the government, in its bid to find a lasting solution to the crisis.

“We know we have an effective platform government can use to disseminate some of these communications, and we are actually ready to use such to support them,” he added.