By David Onmeje
The recent appointment of Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu as the Director of Army Public Relations could not have come at a better time than now. As a first, one is not shocked as to why he has been deemed suitable for the position given his professionalism in all the offices he has held sway. Chiefly amongst them was deputy director, public relations at the headquarters of the theatre command operation Hadin Kai in North-East Nigeria, where he performed exceptionally.
One must confess that the Nigerian media has gained a worthy colleague with this appointment. As such, they should be ready for constructive engagements and interactions from a well-rounded gentleman officer and public relations guru.
This appointment, in my opinion, is indeed a case of placing a round peg in a round hole because Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu comes on board with a rich resume that speaks volume of expertise in crisis communications, advanced public relations, as well as strategic public relations .
This much he has deployed over the years, and for some of us that have encountered him, his appointment would redefine those interactions from the Nigerian Army because it would not be business as usual in the traditional issuance of press releases and the likes, but rather it would be an era of robust engagement on ways forward, not just for the Nigerian Army, but also for the media constituency in Nigeria.
What many do not know is also the fact that the new army spokesman is an intellectual. He is an alumnus of the University of Ibadan, holds a Master’s Degree in International Affairs and Strategic Studies from the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) Post Graduate School Kaduna. He also has a Post Graduate Diploma in Advertising and Public Relations from the International Institute of Journalism Abuja. And he is also a member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations.
It also suffices to add that the exploits of Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu were felt in Nigeria and outside the country’s shores in various capacities. For example, he was Deputy Spokesman/Media Operations Course at the Joint Information Activities Group, Royal Airforce, Halton United Kingdom and Special Operations Command Course at the Shijiazhuang Military Academy, China. He also participated in United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) as Military Public Information Office, amongst a host of others.
In Nigeria, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu has also had a fair share of experience across military formations. Some of them include Assistant Director Defence Information (NA) at the DHQ, Chief of Staff Headquarters Directorate of Army Public Relations and Public Relations Officer NDA. In addition, he once served as the Media Coordinator, Joint Task Force Operation Pulo Shield, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
In the light of the above, we would all agree that the new army spokesman is indeed well rounded and would redefine the terms of engagement between the general public and the Nigerian Army. I do not doubt that he would hit the ground running in fulfilment of the Directorate of Army Public Relations mandate in the interpretation and explanation of the Nigerian Army roles, policies, activities, and accomplishments to the public.
As the new army spokesman assumed duty, I can only enjoin members of the revered press to extend their support to him in the task ahead, given the myriads of security challenges in the country. He is not a stranger to many of us. I can bet that our paths must have crossed one way or the other in the course of work over the years.
It is also my considered opinion that the leadership of the Nigerian Army has done well in identifying and appointing such as excellent communicator to head the ever sensitive Directorate of Army Public Relations. And I believe that moving forward, the interaction between the Nigerian Army and the general public would be robust and engaging.
This, in my opinion, would assist a great deal in ensuring that the Nigerian Army and the media form a credible partnership that would help in the war against insurgency and other forms of criminalities across the country. I also trust that the new army spokesman would bring to bear his experiences over the years in the discharge of his duties. He must exhibit an open mind and be ready to see criticism as a part of the job, as not all would support him. Be that as it may, the overarching objective must be insight, and this he must hold dearly.
I commend the leadership of the Nigerian Army for once again demonstrating a commitment towards an effective civil-military relationship by putting a round peg in a round hole. And it is hoped that tangible results would be seen in the days, weeks and months ahead. And for Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, you can always count on my support.
Onmeje is a strategic communication expert and wrote from the United Kingdom.