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NBTE’s unbundling: Migrating mass communication graduates from generalists to specialists

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By Jimoh Olorede, PhD

Mass Communication Programme which started in Nigeria about sixty-four years ago, before its commencement in many Nigerian Polytechnics, first with Jackson College of Journalism (named after John Payne Jackson, the publisher of Lagos Weekly Record), and later Department of Mass Communication, at the University of Nigeria, Usukka in 1960, has now been unbundled by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), an administrative-cum-academic Board that oversees vocational, technical and colleges of education in Nigeria.

The “Unbundling of Mass Communication” implies that certificates would no longer be awarded to graduates of the programme as Higher National Diploma (HND) in Mass Communication.

In adherence to the global best practices in technical education, especially with a view to widening career prospects of graduates, building skillful specialists, and training employable manpower, the NBTE led by the Executive Secretary, Professor Idris Mohammed Bugaje, in July 2022, organised a Workshop held at Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Owerri, Imo State, with participants from 18 institutions, Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON), a professional body that regulates and controls advertising in Nigeria, safeguards consumers’ interests and promotes local content, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which is an agency of the United Nations that supports and administers programmes to aid quality education and skill building.

Consequently, five new programmes (Departments) namely Print Journalism, Broadcast Journalism, Advertising, Public Relations, and Film and Multimedia were proposed. However, after further deliberations, the proposed five programmes were streamlined into three which include: Strategic Communication and Media Studies; Journalism and Media Studies; and Film and Multimedia Production. Therefore, applicants would subsequently have to choose their courses of choice from either of these three new unbundled programmes at the point of entry.

So, it’s no longer HND Mass Communication, which is a generalization. It’s now either HND Strategic Communication and Media Studies (SCM), which encapsulates Public Relations, Adverting, and Development Communication; or HND Journalism and Media Studies (JMS), which covers Print, Broadcast and Digital Journalism, or HND Film and Multimedia Production (FMP), as distinct areas of specialization. A student who desires and aspires to be a communication strategist, for instance, would be specially trained in the art of Strategic Communication with a sound focus on media studies as a veritable mechanism and platform for the communication and dissemination of his strategically designed information.

The unbundling of Mass Communication programme in Nigeria has come to stay! The National University Commission (NUC) has also announced the unbundling of the programme in undergraduate levels into seven separate courses namely Journalism and Media Studies; Public Relations; Advertising; Broadcasting; Film and Multimedia Studies; Information and Media Studies; and Development Communication Studies. Getting to seven decades after the inception of the Mass Communication programme in Nigeria, students of the programme were being trained as ‘generalists’ expected to master all of these areas integrated as one.

Merging seven professional fields and expecting a trainee to master all is really absurd! This explains why some of our graduates in Nigeria are considered ‘half-baked’ and ‘unemployable’ as they were given much more to chew than they could swallow while undergoing academic training in school. You can’t expect ‘qualitative specialization’ from a generalization-based training.

Professor Bugaje led NBTE management is highly commended over the unbundling of Mass Communication and other wrongly-integrated and amalgamated academic programmes, especially in Nigerian Polytechnics. With the introduction of specialized areas of training, graduates from any of the programmes would now have a comparative advantage and prerequisite skills with adequate mastery of their chosen area of professionalism. Similarly, the Rector of the Federal Polytechnic Offa in Kwara State, Engr. Dr. Kadiri Kamoru and his management team members also deserve high accolades over the compliance by the institution and implementation of the NBTE’s directive on the unbundling.

However, the tasks before Prof. Bugaje and his team are enormous! Yes, the programme has been announced as unbundled, but what about implementation? Since the announcement of the unbundling, how many institutions (Polytechnics) in Nigeria offering Mass Communication and other unbundled programmes have implemented the Board’s directive? It’s the Board’s responsibility to ensure compliance and adherence. The NBTE is also urged to ‘lobby’ the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and other relevant stakeholders for timely intervention, especially in the area of fund disbursement for project execution in the implementation phase of the unbundling policy.

  Dr. Olorede is pioneer Ag. Head, Department of Strategic Communication and Media Studies, The Federal Polytechnic Offa, Kwara State. He can be reached via [email protected] or 08111841887.

Opinion

Ten years since Chibok, Nigeria will no longer pay the price

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By Bola Tinubu, President of Nigeria

Ten years ago today, 276 girls were abducted in the night from their school in Chibok, northeastern Nigeria. The attack by Boko Haram pricked the conscience of the world. From London to Washington, protesters held placards reading #BringBackOurGirls—the hashtag the girls’ families had posted to pressure their idle government into action. It would take almost three weeks for then-Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan even to make a public announcement. Critical time had been lost.

When this March, 137 children were tragically taken from a school in Kaduna, northwestern Nigeria, the shadow of Chibok lay ever present. Why, Nigerians and the world asked, after the passage of a decade was such an atrocity still happening?

This time, unlike Chibok, the girls and boys were brought back a fortnight later, the security and intelligence agencies deployed immediately to rescue them. Nevertheless, legitimate concerns over kidnappings persist in Africa’s most populous country. Success in Kaduna has brought families relief and praise for the military, yet the government bears no illusions: The scourge of kidnappings must be routed once and for all.

It begins with recognising the changing nature of the threat. Boko Haram translates to “Western Education is Forbidden” and reflects an ideological impetus as jihadi insurgents opposed to the very idea of a Nigerian state. Today, Boko Haram are splintered, and mass abductions are primarily the work of criminal gangs. There is no ideology here: kidnapping has become an illegal industry rewarded with ransoms. Within days of the Kaduna attack, the abductors were demanding 1 billion naira ($600,000).

Nothing was paid. As president, I have been clear that ransoms stop. Resolution through payment only perpetuates the wider problem. This extortion racket must be squeezed out of existence. Meanwhile, the costs for perpetrators must be raised: They will receive not a dime, and instead security services’ counter action.

But compressing the kidnap for ransom market only addresses the pull factors. If we are to avoid funneling the same people into other crimes that cause normal Nigerians to feel insecure, we must address the push factors: poverty, inequality, and a paucity of opportunity. Criminal gangs can find easy recruits among those without either a job, or the prospect of one.

Some 63 percent of Nigerians are multidimensionally poor. They are bearing the economic consequences of a failure by successive governments to get to grip with the Nigerian economy. Fiscal and monetary albatrosses have grounded the country’s flight, when surging demographics demand high economic growth to just maintain current standards of living.

A decades-old fuel subsidy was exhausting paltry public finances. By 2022, the cost had ballooned to $10 billion—more than the government’s combined spending on education, health care, and infrastructure in a budget of $40 billion. Currency controls that artificially propped up the naira deterred investment and led to shortages of foreign exchange. For decades we have been financially ransoming ourselves. When my government took office last May, we faced a pile of debt obligations.

Just as with kidnappers, we had to be tough with the economy. Unsustainable market distortions had to be removed. As expected, floating the naira caused it to plunge. Given Nigeria is a net food importer, the average shopping basket has consequently risen in price. The removal of the fuel subsidy, in a country where many businesses and households rely on generators for power, has also had far reaching effects. These reforms have caused pain across Nigeria; they are still painful. Yet there is no better alternative: These and other difficult reforms are necessary to arrest the economic rot that lies at the heart of insecurity.

Green shoots are now visible. In the first quarter of this year, foreign currency inflows have almost matched those for the whole of last year. A multi-billion forex backlog at the central bank has been cleared, giving foreign investors’ confidence to invest in Africa’s largest economy, safe in the knowledge they can repatriate earnings. The naira has begun to stabilize after its initial downward trend and has made huge gains against the dollar.

Talk of macroeconomics might seem remote from the challenge of insecurity. But without the fundamentals in place, it is impossible for an enabling environment where the private sector thrives, jobs are created, and opportunity is spread across the country. It is how we ensure children can go to school without fear.

For any who may have doubted our direction, it should now be clear. There will be no more ransoms paid—not to kidnappers, nor toward those policies which have trapped our people economically. Nigerians, and their economy, will be liberated.

Bola Tinubu is President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

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Opinion

NIMASA in Blue Economy: Tinubu’s brainchild-ministry promoting Nigeria’s bilateral relations

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By Dr. Jimoh Olorede

Some deliberate initiatives taken by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, upon his election and assumption of office in May 2023, did not only show the President was innovative, decisive and proactive, but also showed he came prepared and ready for a serious business of governance. One of the products of Tinubu’s innovative ingenuity is the creation of the novel Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, which has been applauded by many national and international stakeholders.

This new Ministry, for a reason of its great economic potentials, is now a cynosure and centre of economic attraction to many countries of the world. The creation of the new ministry out of the preexisting Ministry of Transportation, seemed to have broadened and widened our economic perspectives and horizons in relation to increasing Nigeria’s economic growth through the sustainable use and maximization of its maritime vast resources, as against merely generating revenues from marine transport.

Recently, the newly appointed Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dayo Mobereola, received, in Lagos, the Spanish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Juan Ignacio Sell, on an inspection of two additional Bulletproof Security Boats from Spain, purposely built for NIMASA by Aresa, a Spanish company. Sell, as reported by the press, said: “We got the message with the creation of Maritime and Blue Economy Ministry by the Federal Government of Nigeria, and knowing there are lots of things to harness from the sea, we also want to be partners in that process”, adding Spanish government has pledged to support Nigeria through NIMASA on maritime security. Similarly, earlier in November 2023, the Spanish Navy was also in the country for collaboration in personnel training and ship building in a bid to curbing maritime crimes.

The viability, uniqueness, and resource-potentials of the then-old-but-now-new agencies (at least, now being under a new ministry) like NIMASA, the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), and the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSP) among others, which hitherto were under the Ministry of Transportation, are now being appreciated for their revenue generation potentials, economic contributions to the growth of the nation and socio-utility, especially as causative of the administrative experience and fiscal expertise of the Minister, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola, who is now steadily turning an eyesore of the inherited agencies as evident in the dilapidated infrastructure of the nation’s ports and others, into a cynosure of economic attraction to some countries of the world.

President Tinubu’s commendable innovative initiatives would not only boost the economic stamina of Africa’s most populous country, ensure security in the maritime sector, but also simultaneously increase and strengthen Nigeria’s bilateral ties with other countries. For instance, the President in March 2024 received the Special Envoy of the President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, in Abuja, according to a Release by The State House, during which he reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to enhancing maritime security and safety in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Gulf of Guinea is central to maritime activities because is a great inlet of the Atlantic Ocean on the western African coast whose tributaries are the Volta and Niger rivers with offshore oil deposits and metal ore deposits as its natural resources (Britannica), and via which about 80 percent of the trade with Nigeria goes.

Also in February this year, the Nigerian Navy led by the Chief of Training and Operations, Rear Admiral Zakariyyah Muhammed met with the U.S. Navy in Naples, Italy, hosted by the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, Admiral Stuart Munsch, with a view to improving regional cooperation, information-sharing practices, and maritime interdiction expertise aimed at countering sea-based illicit activities.

More so, Nigerian and Indian Navies, in October 2023, strengthened bilateral ties between the two countries to ensure maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea aiming at maintaining its sea lanes as a conduit of international trade. The visit led by Indian Defence attache° to Nigeria, Col. Romi Singh Legha was said to have recorded positive results on collaborative training against piracy and other maritime criminalities in the region.

Suffice to add was the arrival in Nigeria of the Chinese team and vessels earlier in July 2023, with the Chinese Ambassador to the country, Mr. Chi Jian Chun saying the visit, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), “was to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries and enhance maritime security within West Africa.” The above narrative shows the rate at which President Tinubu’s ingenious brainchild-ministry is attracting partnership-attention, engendering Memoranda of Understanding (MoU), and promoting bilateral relations with other nations.

Dr. Olorede, Head, Department of Strategic Communication and Media Studies at The Federal Polytechnic Offa, Kwara State, writes via

[email protected]/08111841887.

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Opinion

The rise and fall of Philip Shaibu

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By Bola Bolawole

Edo State deputy governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu, has kicked the canvass; he was impeached by the Edo State House of Assembly days ago and a replacement was promptly provided by his erstwhile boss, Gov. Godwin Obaseki. Shaibu was in court while his impeachment was being perfected; we await the court’s verdict but time is not on his side. Governorship elections are due in the state on September 21st, a few months from now. It is said that one of the reasons why Shaibu had to be impeached was his insistence on contesting the governorship position in that election; apart from other “irreconcilable differences” between him and Obaseki.

Shaibu’s desire from Day One, and the pact he thought he had with his boss, was that Obaseki would hand over the baton of leadership to him; an “emilokan” kind of arrangement. And while the good times lasted between the two buddies, Shaibu enjoyed it to the hilt. He was loud! He was visible! He was influential! He was powerful! He was feared! He made Obaseki’s enemies his enemies and Obaseki’s friends his friends. He fought battles on behalf of Obaseki and waged wars in defence of a man he held dear. But nothing lasts forever and spanners often get thrown into the works. Gentlemen’s agreements are often honoured in their breach and what goes around, as they say, comes around! The reasons for this are not far to fetch.

The period between one election and another is damn too long for anyone to gain say what can happen along the line. Just one night – usually referred to as the night of long knives – can change many things. Politicians always lack fidelity; they make agreements, knowing full well that they will break them. That is why our people refer to any agreement with politicians derisively as “adehun alagbada.” Agreements made by politicians wearing flowing robes (agbada or babariga). You trust such agreements to your chagrin. Sometimes the politicians themselves are not to blame: shifting alliances dominate politics; today’s friends are tomorrow’s enemies; and political permutations are in a state of constant flux. Hence, the saying that there are only permanent interests and not permanent friends – or enemies. Especially here in Nigeria where our politics lacks principles and ideological underpinnings and political parties are nothing but Special Purpose Vehicles or mere platforms for the purpose of contesting elections.

Few deputy governors serve out their term gracefully; fewer, still, succeed their boss. The reasons for this are also many. To start with, not many governors are agreeable to the running mate chosen for them. All manner of interests play a role here and the principal oftentimes simply stomachs his misgivings so he could achieve his goal before he begins to think of what to do next. Where a deputy governor is stronger politically than his boss, that is a disaster waiting to happen. Once the governor finds his feet, his next project will be how to cut his deputy to size. Where a deputy loves to hug the limelight, it is a matter of time before he falls out of favour with the boss.

There were people who contested the running mate slot and were not happy they lost out. And from Day One of the administration, there are people scheming to replace the sitting deputy. A deputy that has a mind of his own will also not be a good friend of the boss. Leaders here love docile and pliant subordinates and followers. They want someone who will not outshine them if he succeeds them. They want someone who will not probe them after they leave office. They want someone who will cover their tracks for them. They hate anyone with a strong personality or character. They will not stomach anyone who has a mind of his own.

If you think a deputy governor is close to the governor, you will be deceiving yourself; the razzmatazz and public show of effusive affection notwithstanding. They may be Number One and Number Two but that is where the closeness ends; they may be poles apart in their thinking, political philosophy, orientation and way of life. They may belong to different political camps and may harbour divergent opinions on critical issues. Some governors and their deputies are like night and day, light and darkness. Their marriage of convenience is just for them to win an election, after which the competition and trouble begin.

I once was in a meeting where we were discussing with the governor until the Deputy Governor walked in. The conversation stopped abruptly but the JJC that I was, I resumed the conversation after the usual pleasantries but soon noticed that everyone else was quiet. So, I, too, went numb. After Her Excellency had left, His Excellency scolded me severely: “My man, why were you talking so freely before a stranger?” A stranger? The deputy governor in an administration was a stranger, I asked. “Yes! Is she one of us?”

So, you can be Number Two in an administration and yet be a stranger! I also witnessed a governor ditching people who were instrumental to his winning an election only to pitch his tent with a political neophyte with no political base. I took him up! He listened to me patiently and then replied mockingly: “Excuse me, Sir, the politics you learned is that of the classroom; the politics that we are practising here is that of the streets. What benefit will it be to me and you if we support a person to win an election and after that, you and I will no longer have access to this Dining Room (in the Government House)?” I simply gazed at his mouth! Realpolitik!

Very few bosses will support a strong personality to take over from them. Bosses are averse to a deputy who has a mind of his own. These are fundamental truths that anyone aiming to play second fiddle must understand before throwing their hat in the ring. Another useful hint is to take this advice of the elders very seriously: Prepare for the trouble that is certain to come when things are still rosy between you and your boss. Scriptures say in the Book of Habakkuk, it may tarry but it will surely come. And because it will surely come, it will not tarry! What do you make out of that? China’s revolutionary leader, Chairman Tsetung Mao, put it this way: “To have peace, prepare for war!” Does this sound contradictory? Diplomats and theorists of war define this as the principle of detente or of mutual assured destruction (MAD). Mad indeed! Scriptures again say the horse is prepared for the day of battle, not on the day of battle. Shaibu appeared not to have taken the wisdom of the elders to heart.

To survive as a deputy, you must wear loyalty and servility like a badge. This must radiate in you inside-out. Either you have this gift endowed in you from heaven or you learn how to stoop to conquer. How many politicians can stomach what Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu put up with to become Mr. President? I once listened to the head of a Mission, a highly-respected man of God, give the criteria needed before any pastor could be promoted to the topmost echelon of the organisation: “Someone who has not, not even once, raised his voice against the authorities”! And I marveled! Lick spittle? That criteria is even stricter than that of Stephen Decatur when he said: “Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but right or wrong, our Country!” Decatur at least wished that his Country would make an effort to be in the right! It will be much easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a deputy to satisfy some bosses.

This, however, is not to discourage the likes of Shaibu from challenging ungrateful, use-and-dump bosses; whether they succeed or fail does not really matter. One such politician succeeded some years back: his name is Olusegun Mimiko in Ondo State. Mimiko dared the sitting president, Olusegun Obasanjo, to resign as Obasanjo’s Minister of Housing and Urban Development and take on the incumbent governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Agagu. Mimiko built the Labour Party from scratch and, with it, ran a campaign that unhinged the then ruling PDP and unseated the sitting governor, Agagu. The election was blatantly rigged – I was on ground in the state as Media Consultant to Agagu and witnessed it live and direct – but the court eventually restored Mimiko’s stolen mandate.

History often repeats itself, especially with those who fail to learn from history, as George Santayana has posited. There is, therefore, nothing wrong if Shaibu tries his luck in Edo state. Maybe he will be the next giant-killer! Even if he is not, there is no harm in trying because every experience deepens our renascent democracy.

FEEDBACK

Nigeria: between religion economy and knowledge economy

A beautiful piece that aptly captured my feelings and thoughts on how religious activities contributed to the economic woes/crisis and general backwardness of the country. – Oso Victor Gbolahan.

Am blessed and educated by this article. It really opened my eyes to see the foolishness of religion economy taking priority over the knowledge economy. I now have a better understanding why Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world! Indeed, it will continue to be until we move from religion economy to knowledge economy. Pilgrimage should be a personal responsibility. – Aderemi Ajadi Desalu.

We have to expose the rot in all subsidies associated with religion so as to promote an effective knowledge economy that can rebuild the Nation. Nigeria can, and will be, better than it is now if we do away with religion economy. – Palcorub Nig. Ltd.

It is possible that Nigerians flock to churches and mosques because they think that their hope lies there. And the churches themselves may be bearing the weight of Nigeria’s failure because its members face the suffocating atmosphere of Nigeria’s stagnation and its attendant influence and corruption. I think, therefore, that it is not the complete truth that Nigeria is the way it is because Nigerians are religious but, rather, because Nigerians pay lip-service to religious teachings. – Ayodele Iyiola.

Bolawole is a former Editor of PUNCH newspapers and also a public affairs analyst on radio and television.

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