By Nduka Uzuakpundu
The Nigerian Army School of Public Relations and Information (NASPRI) at Bonny Camp on Victoria Island, Lagos may soon be accredited by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) Kaduna as a monotechnic, if current moves to that effect materialise.
If successful, NASPRI will run courses leading to the award of Ordinary National Diploma (OND) and Higher National Diploma (HND).
The plan to that effect is being spearheaded by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) led by its President, Dr. Rotimi Oladele, and the Nigerian Army Headquarters in Abuja.
Oladele said because of NASPRI’s uniqueness, there was a need to re-craft its constitution and define anew the vast and rich turf of the NIPR, a turf devoid of quacks – especially now that the country had had nearly two decades of an unbroken experiment with democracy.
The intent is to turn out well-bred professionals who will man the Public Relations and Information Departments of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Air Force and other para-military bodies – including the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), highly visible corporate bodies, Federal and State Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), image-makers of Local Government Areas, secondary and tertiary institutions, political parties, etc.
A proposal on what NIPR top shots think an upgraded NASPRI should have as its curriculum and programmes is currently being scutinised by defence policy-makers in Abuja.
NASPRI Director, Colonel John Agim, said because of the distinguished status of the institution – indeed, as the only one in Africa, and a centre for candidates writing NIPR examination – it was import that it be accorded the position of a tertiary establishment.
An elevated NASPRI, which was set up in 2006, Agim said, would have, amongst others, an influential role in informing and enlightening members of the Nigerian military, in the mass, on issues concerning respect for human rights, what stake they had in promoting democracy – alongside their constitutional duty of defending the territorial integrity of the country.
The NASPRI move to become a monotechnic is one of the top priorities of the Oladele administration’s second-term tenure, to the extent that the NIPR wants it to be a model for other military and para-military bodies in Africa; a place where – in recognition of the military and strategic roles Nigeria plays in African politics – other African countries may send their security personnel for training and continuous education.
Looking ahead, a monotechnic NASPRI is expected to have an ambitious budget, than is presently the case. It may have to have a new befitting permanent, commodious site – most likely in Abuja – with a new crop of lecturers or resource persons, hostels, off-campus lecture centres in places like Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Jos, Enugu and Ibadan.
Oladele foresees a promising future, in which the graduates of an elevated NASPRI would be a new breed, enriched with current skills and behaviour predicated on integrity and transparency.
It’s a move that, Agim believes, would be a good source of revenue for the federal government, while, for Oladele, it promises to strengthen diplomatic ties between Nigeria and benefitting African countries, just as it would defence co-operation, intelligence gathering, information management and dissemination and co-ordinated campaign against terrorism, boundary disputes, cross-border crimes like human and drug trafficking, pilfering and wilful destruction of urban infrastructure like bridges, electricity lamp posts, roads, bus stations, oil-related crimes in the Niger Delta, piracy in the South Atlantic and the notching menace of kidnapping, rape, child abuse, murder and destruction of farm lands by herdsmen – especially in states like Plateau, Benue, Ebonyi, Abia, Enugu, Anambra and Ondo.