NIPR Presidential Award: What it means to me, by Tony Ojobo
Mr. Tony Ojobo, the ebullient Public Affairs Director of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) was recently honoured with the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) Presidential Award. He shares his thought on what the award means to him with our correspondent THERESA IGATA.
What the Award means to you by Ojobo
I want to thank God first of all, and for me it’s humbling when you’re recognised by your professional group. I am glad that some of the things we do in our little corner are being recognised, because that means more hard work. I want to dedicate the award to God and to the NCC that has given me the platform to express myself in terms of the way I carry out my responsibilities and what I do on my job.
We’ll continue to improve on what we’re doing in the public space, especially at the NCC, because it is in the course of my assignment there that this recognition came.
We’ll continue to improve at what we do and them make sure that we say it as it is all the time and also ensure that we take the feedback that we get from our stakeholders back to our management so that the areas that need improvement can be handled, and then speaking the truth to the management all the time, thereby ensuring that the Nigerian consumer, the operators and even our stakeholders are better served.
Discharging your duties after the awards
I believe in professionalism. I think that one thing I said to myself when I came to this beat was that I have to be a thoroughbred professional at all times without compromise, making sure that I do things the way that it should be done. I have people that are working with me that I’m mentoring and I want to leave a legacy that whatever time I leave the Commission, I know that there are a crop of people who can step into my shoes.
I also believe in setting standards and that is what the NCC has tried to do in terms of PR practice in Nigeria. We have tried to demonstrate that you can be a public office or government spokesperson and also be professional in the way you carry out your assignment.
Challenges in carrying out your assignment as a PR practitioner
We’re regulating an industry that is very difficult, an industry that is serving about 153 million active subscribers and I doubt if there is any other industry that is serving that number of people and these are people that are utilising services on a 24/7 basis, so there are always issues and things to talk about.
What we’ve tried to do is tackle the challenges as much as possible though we’ve had the challenge of how to talk to people who are facing challenges because of the services they are receiving.
I can’t tell people that there are no challenges or pretend that we’ve not seen that there are problems, but what we have continued to do is to identify the challenges that people are going through in the industry and we’ve also tried to say the truth, indicating that we’ve not gotten to where we should be, but it’s work in progress and I think that’s the way we’ve tried to communicate most of the time.
The most challenging part of this job is when we’re having issues in the industry, how to address those issues and still speak to the people. For instance the issue of unsolicited text messages was a major issue. How did we communicate on all these? We began to use all our social media platforms including the mainstream media to communicate to consumers.
Yes we know there are challenges but there are things we’re doing to address those challenges and that helped us in creating a balance and of course going forward we will continue to go along this line.
Consumers Expectation in the coming year, 2018
This year has been full of challenges. You are aware that we declared this year, the Year of the Telecom Consumer and the reason for that was to make sure that we put the issue of the telecom consumer on the front burner; addressing them one after the other.
The 2442 DND code is one of those things we put in place as a Commission to address the issue of unsolicited text messages and we realized that Nigerians are not utilizing this platform, as people were still complaining about unsolicited text messages. But of course the platform had been provided. We still received a few complaints though, from people who said they have activated and they still get occasional unsolicited messages and that is why we have the second level of support that we have provided; which is the 622 NCC help line where if for instance you have activated your 2442 and you’re still getting unsolicited text messages then you can report to us and of course we’ll make sure that we handle it.
I think the year is a year mixed with good and also a few challenges that we had. Some of these challenges we have outlined in some of our stakeholders forum. We have had challenges of deployment of base stations in the states, and because of the quest to increase Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) in some the states, a lot of approvals have been made in terms of siting base stations.
We’ve also had base stations shut down, issues of Right of Way and the reluctance of the various agencies at various levels over the deployment of infrastructure. These are some of the challenges but the EVC had made a case at the Governors’ Forum on how these challenges are actually contributing to Poor Quality of Service and there is the need for us to have pervasive rollout of base stations so that we can narrow these gaps and areas that do not have coverage so that the issue of access and broadband penetration can be realised. Unless we do that, we’ll keep having challenges with being able meet up with the government policy of 30 per cent broadband penetration by 2018.
We believe that by 2018 some of these issues, especially as the governors are beginning to appreciate the importance of these infrastructure in their states, will begin to fizzle out gradually.