By Bamidele Salako
The Institute of Public Relations, (IPR) in the United Kingdom in February 1948, defined Public Relations practice as the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.
It would however appear that in the world in which Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Force Headquarters, Jimoh Moshood lives, the definition of PR Practice reads, “a deliberate but irrational, incoherent and disjointed attempt to establish and maintain mutual confusion between the Nigerian Police Force and its publics.” And it is a crying shame on the force that Moshood is the best the institution could offer to manage its reputation and to build relationships between the force and its publics.
The Police PRO did anything but build or in the least, attempt to build a positive perception with his recent horror showing on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily. Rather, he seemed to be in a one man race to drag the already rickety image of the Nigerian Police Force through the mud.
If anything, he was brought on the show to tender the side of the Police in a very sensitive matter relating to the killings and reprisals between herders and farming communities ongoing in Benue. This was obviously a combustible subject that was generating a whirlpool of emotions ranging from rage to disillusionment across the country, and one that has spawned heated debates.
Allegations of ineptitude and negligence have been flying in the direction of the Police Force and Moshood could only contrive to make what was already a messy situation for the police even murkier by calling the Executive Governor of a troubled state a drowning man. He was badly let down by his gross lack of tact and professionalism in defusing a tense situation as he exchanged words on national television with Mr Terver Akase, Governor Ortom’s Chief Press Secretary.
Ortom had in a recent statement urged the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to resign over his handling of the killings in his state by suspected herdsmen.
“We don’t join issues with a drowning man, Governor Ortom is a drowning man,” Moshood said when in response to that statement by the governor. Show co-anchor, Maupe Ogun-Yusuf then insisted that he withdraw the statement, but he insisted he would not.
“I will not withdraw for the purpose of this discussion because he called my IGP incompetent,” the spokesman said.
What! At a time when his boss, IGP Idris has come in for a lot of criticism from Nigerians for being a presidential lackey owing to a knack for arresting persons who criticise the president, Moshoodshould be looking to portray his boss and the institution they represent in a positive light and not obliterating whatever iota of goodwill they had left.
Some believe the NPF is doing badly enough all by itself and that PPRO Moshood’s debacle on national TV was akin to a man already sentenced to life imprisonment without hope of parole, then proceeding to commit a death sentence-worthy crime.
The series of shocking responses that betrayed an indecorous and insensitive disposition, considering that the issues at stake bordered on the protection and security of lives – a core constitutional obligation of the Nigerian Police Force – only betrayed a fact that the current police institution as constituted has little or no regard for the citizens they serve and whose taxes pay their wages.
He also said those who are calling for state police do not know what they’re talking about. That list of thoughtless no-goods must include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo because not long after that, the VP threw his weight behind state policing. Besides, it begs the question – when the police go from being a law enforcing body to being a law making one? If citizens express a preference for state policing, the police force would have no obligation other than to comply.
The Federal House of Reps has duly demanded that the IGP fire his PRO or even resign himself although it is hard to imagine either scenario unfolding.