23rd August, 1993 marked the commencement date of the National Orientation Agency Act which seeks to establish an agency called “National Orientation Agency” hereinafter referred to as “NOA”. The Drafters of laws in Nigeria out of their legislative wisdom, considering the Country’s population factor, Cultural and Ethnic Diversity deemed it fit and very important to have an Agency which would be responsible for leading the conversation between the Nigerian Citizens and the Government. This Agency has some distinctive functions which are contained in the Part 1, Section 3 of its enabling Act. For clarity purpose, these functions are herein reproduced verbatim.
(1) The Agency shall-
(a) enlighten the general public on Federal Government policies, programmes and activities;
(b) mobilise favourable public opinion and support for Federal Government policies, programmes and activities;
(c) collect, collate, analyse and provide a source of feedback from the public to the Federal Government on its policies, programmes and activities;
(d) establish social institutions and framework for deliberate exposure of Nigerians to democratic norms and values for virtue, peaceful, united, progressive and disciplined society;
(e) energise the conscience of all categories of Nigerians to their rights and privileges, responsibilities and obligations as citizens of Nigeria;
(f) propagate and promote the spirit of dignity of labour, honesty and commitment of qualitative production, promotion and consumption of home-produced commodities and services;
(g) re-orientate Nigerians to shed their general attitudes to wastage, variety and pretences of affluence in their lifestyles;
(h) orientate the populace about power, its use and the proper role of the Federal Government in serving the collective interest of Nigerians;
(i) propagate the need to eschew all vices in public life including corruption, dishonesty, electoral and census malpractice, ethnic,
parochial and religious bigotry; propagate the virtue of hard work, honesty, loyalty, self-reliance, commitment to and the promotion of national integration;
(k) mobilise Nigerians for positive patriotic participation in and identification with national affairs and issues; and
(l) sensitise, induct and equip all Nigerians to fight against all forms of internal and external domination of resources by a few individuals or groups.
Interesting Functions indeed! However, the Act further gave the NOA some certain Objectives which the Agency must (emphasis is strongly placed on the word “must”) work towards attaining. This is because the drafters of the said Act carefully and deliberately employed the use of the word “Shall” in the beginning paragraph of Section 4 which provides for the Objectives. The said objectives are hereby reproduced verbatim also for clarity purpose;
It shall be the objectives of the Agency to—
(a) ensure that Federal Government programmes and policies are better understood by the general public;
(b) mobilise favourable opinions for such programmes and policies;
(c) encourage informal education through public enlightenment
activities and publication;
(d) establish a feedback channel to the Federal Government on all
aspects of Nigerian national life;
(e) establish appropriate national framework for educating, orientating and indoctrinating Nigerians towards developing socially desirable attitudes, values and culture which will project individual national pride and position national image for Nigeria;
(f) develop among Nigerians of all ages and sex, social and cultural values and awareness which will inculcate the spirit of patriotism, nationalism, self-discipline and self-reliance;
(g) awaken the consciousness of Nigerians to their civic responsibilities to the promotion of national unity, citizen’s commitment to their human rights to build a free, just and progressive society;
(h) encourage the people to take part actively and freely in discussions and decisions affecting their general welfare;
(i) promote new sets of attitudes and culture for the attainment of the goals and objectives of a united Nigerian State;
(j) restore and sustain discipline in Nigerians national life;
(k) instil in the populace a sense of absolute loyalty to their fatherland;
(l) ensure and uphold leadership by example; and
(m) foster respect for constituted authority.
Just like the legal maxim “Res Ipsa Loquitor” which is interpreted to mean “ the fact speaks for itself”. These above reproduced objectives of the NOA needs no further explanation as it’s wordings are crystal clear and does not need any professional interpretation.
Having reproduced the above, it is then important for us as citizens of Nigeria to ask questions as to whether or not the NOA is really performing it duty as expected of it by this Enabling Act? One very important thing to note is that a community reading of all the sections of the NOA Act shows that the NOA should be one of the closest governmental agency to the Nigerian populace through its continuous citizen education. The NOA due to its sui generis nature of work is expected to have a very strong media presence across the nation through which it can effectively carry out its statutory duties. Billboards, Jingles on radio and television, organization of community town hall meetings amongst others medium shouldn’t be periodic activities to the NOA. How can you effectively “establish a feedback channel to the Federal Government on all aspects of Nigerian national life” when a large number of Nigerians are not aware about the existence of the Agency.
Cybercrime, security agencies brutality and Gender Based Violence amongst others are ravaging the Nigerian society. It would be very good to see the NOA leading intervention on these societal issues. There is an urgent need to reorientate the teeming Nigerian youth population about the need to embrace hard work, promote peaceful co-existence and do away from all criminal activities. The NOA needs to continuously partner with all relevant stakeholders in order to ensure that peace and justice reigns in our Country.
Nigerian population keeps on growing. Hence, there’s a need to have a corresponding continuous citizen education which is the responsibility of the NOA. The NOA is an integral agent in the Nation Building process.
Nigeria has a lot of Fantastic Laws, but our major challenge lies mainly on the proper implementation of these laws.
God bless our Country!
Yusuf Emiola O.
Yusuf Emiola O. is a final year Law Undergraduate in Bayero University Kano and currently holds the position of Clinic Head, Bayero University Law Clinic.