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Speech: Communication, Change Management And Sustainable Development In The 21st Century


Dr Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika
By Dr Abigail

feel most humbled and honoured to be asked to present this keynote address at the
3rd Ebenezer Soola Conference on Communication; and I am delighted
to be here this morning, to share my thoughts on a theme that has become of
great importance to many, if not all Nigerians.

I cast a delightful reminisce on the day that the honouree for today, sat and
saw me through the defence of my doctoral thesis in the Office of the Head of
Department of Communication and Language Arts in 2004. For a few hours, I
waited in the Secretary’s office before I was ushered into the HoD’s Office for
the business of the day, the defence of my doctoral thesis. The honouree saw to
it that everything went well and guided me afterwards to do all the corrections
as advised. The rest as they say is history. I am not alone in this story as it
is evident that the honouree is a top notch producer of PhDs in the field of
communication in Nigeria. It is an incontestable fact, because just
seven days (Tuesday, September 20, 2016) to this
conference, “the erudite and indefatigable Prof. Soola added another feather to
his ever-growing cap of Ph.D. supervisees. The new addition is Dr. Cosmos
Ikechukwu Eze, a lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, Ahmadu Bello
University, Zaria, Kaduna State. This brings to 22 the number of Ph.Ds. that
Prof. Soola has successfully supervised for the academia.”
Hence, today, we are celebrating him for producing PhDs, and I am confident
that in a short while, by God’s grace we shall be celebrating him for producing
not only PhDs, but PhDs and Professors, which is the change that we need in our
profession. So, the honouree personifies “change” in our discipline and the
academic community.
I thank the organisers for the privilege of inviting me to deliver this keynote
address on the theme for this conference, – “Communication, Change Management
and Sustainable Development in the 21st Century”. This conference,
which was conceived last year, seems to be a prophesy of what the federal
government of Nigeria (FGN) gave birth to, on Thursday, September 8, 2016, as a
campaign  and  christened it “Change Begins with Me”. The
campaign is set to establish the values of accountability, integrity and
positive change in the attitude of Nigerians.

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will agree with me that in the last one month or so, one issue that have
competed for space with such reoccurring issues like Boko Haram or EFCC taking
on their suspects in our media, has been the desirability of otherwise of the
national reorientation campaign recently launched by the Federal Government.
Hardly a day passes without the issue of the campaign being featured in the
media. In fact as I was preparing for this speech, I took some time out to
assess the extent to which the issue under discussion featured in Nigerian
Newspapers in the past one month and I discovered that it dominated the news
and opinion pages. Therefore, I feel that it will be unpatriotic of me to
ignore such a raging issue as the issue of the change with me campaign.
I consider the theme of this conference pertinent and relevant to our time, and
I hope that the issues emanating from this conference will be made public for
the purpose of filling the gaps in the communication strategy of the current
government, which came to power using the slogan “…Change” – the only constant
thing in life. How, change is managed using communication in the context of
sustainable development is the issue this conference seeks to engage, under
nineteen (19) sub-themes; which I have summaries into seven (7)i.e. communication
change management and development; change management and gender balanced
development; change management and journalism; change management, broadcast
media and cinematography; change management, public relations and advertising;
change management and new media; and change management and traditional media.
the theme, “Communication, Change Management and Sustainable Development in the
21st Century”, It is possible to consider it from a narrow
perspective of mindset change among citizens. It can also be considered from a
broader perspective of governance, social cost and social benefit, which
transcend the narrow consideration of the individual as a change agent,
justifying the need for attitudinal and behavioural change, not discounting the
need for moral and ethical re-orientation. This is because leadership is a
critical issue in change management, as there are on going debates, on the impact
of the high cost of governance and lifestyle of those in government, have on
the attitude of Nigerian’s to patriotism. So, leadership is critical in the
quest for change and sustainable development.
According to The
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the “Change Begins
with Me” campaign is expected to trigger a positive change that will boost
Nigeria’s image, thereby enabling the country to gain acceptability and command
respect in the comity of nations. He however, opines that  “We believe that what is wrong with Nigeria
is not limited to the elite, the political class, and the civil service; if we
want that change, therefore, it must address all the issues and target every
stratum of the society,’’ However, Adelakun (2016) opines that “Change does not
begin with the average Nigerian. No, it begins with those who promised us
change a year ago”. She went on to say that the campaign is “a diversionary
tactic, a propaganda vehicle for paternalistic pontification by a hypocritical

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Furthermore, Olukotun
(2016.p.), stated that:
several critics of
the change begins with me campaign “saw the program as a “419” substitute for
the change in living standards promised by the All Progressive Congress. In
short, a noble, and in my view much needed value change campaign had been
shouted out of court by a citizenry reeling from the pains and throes of
economic doldrums.
To carry the debate
further, and beyond its current fixation with the performance of the government
on a nose diving economy, it is important to restate that an agenda to
restructure the nation’s values constitute an adjunct of genuine political
reforms. The pity however, is that its timing is inauspicious, to the extent
that it fails to factor that it would have been better received if the
government had been more successful at economic turnaround.
The lesson is clear: People in the troughs of despair, preoccupied with
existential crisis are not the best candidates for exhortations on moral
rehabilitation. For, philosophers recognise situational ethics or bounded
rationalities, in which the actors write their own rules and moral codes, based
on the exigencies of survival in life threatening circumstances. That granted,
somewhere down the road, when there is more pleasure, this country must
confront the phenomenon of an emerging uncivil society. There are acceptable
modes and genres of protests and coping mechanisms, just as there are uncivil
and fracturing ones. The citizen who decides to make away with railings hewed
from a newly constructed bridge, in order to make a fast buck is obviously
imperilling our collective future. In the same way, widespread dereliction
among workers in the public and private sectors, point to dangers of extreme
types of behaviour and attitudes. To put it squarely, at what point does the
freedom or laxity of an individual become a societal menace and dangerous
abnormality? In this respect, the mushrooming of fake drug barons, kidnappers,
pipeline vandals, murderous herdsmen, freelance robbers wielding automatic
weapons, and sundry crooks making a living in the interstices of a poorly
policed society point to the short and long term consequences of growing
In essence, Olukotun (2016) is arguing that the wider issue of defaults
in our citizenship which prefers to enjoy rights without responsibilities or
obligations must be changed for sustainable development. He further argued
that, however effective a government gets, it cannot singlehandedly, and
without reference to a collaborative society deliver benefits in the face of so
much negation. He cited “scorched earth tactic of the Niger Delta Avengers, who
have chosen as a vehicle of protest, destructive methods that will do great
harm and cause grievous setbacks not just to Nigeria if it continues to exist
in its current form, but to their own very communities, even if those
communities become part of a new country or better still, enjoy more autonomy
in a restructured Nigeria.”
way it goes, whether it is the narrow or broader perspective, it is
undisputable that communication is recognised as a critical variable change
management as it has the “potentials of altering significantly people’s
perception of the world around them in addition to shaping their opinions and
attitudes…” to “trigger a positive change”.
So, in today’s fast moving and dynamic environment,
social change, whether as individuals, organizations or nations has become a
way of progress. From Europe to America, and from Asia down to Africa, various
governments have discovered that the key to sustainable development lies in
their effort to engineer social change that affects the lives of the
citizenry.  One example of such country
in Africa is South Africa.
According to Olukotun (2016), South
Africa a few years ago, launched a Bill of Responsibilities Campaign aimed
mainly at the youths. Part of the Preamble to that Bill states that “I
appreciate that the rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of
South Africa are inseparable from my duties and responsibilities to others.
Therefore, I accept that with every right comes a set of responsibilities”.
Nigeria, marooned in the shadows of an underperforming government and as
previously argued however, the message of change is unlikely to be received in
a situation where it is seen as a manipulative tactic to create excuses for
non-performance. Perhaps, it would have made more sense if as part of the
change agenda of this administration; it had instituted a revolution in values
to undergird its reforms.
Similarly, last year, the acclaimed governor of Lagos State,
Mr.Akinwunmi Ambode called for an ethical rebirth, pointing out that he had
created the office of Special Adviser on Civic Engagement, in order to press
home the need to complement ongoing renovations in Lagos with citizen buy-in.
Nobody thought that such talk was a waste of time or an effort to hoodwink the
masses, partly because Ambode has been pushing the frontiers of innovation and
purposeful governance in Lagos since he assumed office. In the case of the
centre however, it will appear that many critiques
are reacting, perhaps over reacting to the economic turmoil and the lack
of visible progress in broad areas of governance. Perhaps, FGN should bid its
time and target an upturn in the economy, engineered by it, in order to
reintroduce the important subject of change; not discounting the setting of
example by pruning costs and tastes in order to elicit the value change they
demand (Olukotun, 2016).
essence for social change to endure and succeed, it must be actively embraced
by a citizenry that are enthusiastic and it must also earn the acquiescence and
collaboration of both the led and the leadership who must see themselves as
involved in creating the needed fundamental change.
However, many change management
campaigns sometimes fail because communication was ineffective: because some
people thought they heard one thing but, the intent was something totally
different. This may not be unconnected with the fact that governments
have always engaged in what is known as public information, if for no other
reason than to inform citizens of their concept of change and the expectation
of government from the citizens, based on one of the objectives of communication, which is to inform;
others being to persuade, motivate, or achieve mutual understanding. In other
words, communication is the process and means by which objectives are achieved.
such, information management that facilitates the two-way exchange on pertinent
issues of sustainable development is imperative! So, communication
is not only about speaking to and hearing from people, it is about
understanding the complete message. As a result, we are more concerned about
the use of a competent communicator for planning and implementation of change –
i.e. research and situation analysis to
understand the key issues, problems, perception of stakeholders on the issue of
change for sustainable development; stakeholders analysis; behaviour analysis
to understand current knowledge, attitude and behaviour; interest,
media/communication habits for quality media selection; and them message design
Therefore, effective communication
is about being there for everyone, being
in touch with the real challenges of 
stakeholders, understanding the
real issues, who must deliver the on the issues. Being present, visible and engaging with everyone is important during
the good times and the challenging times. So, effective communication serves
as the very bedrock of governance.  Thus,
the vision underpinning the 2010 Nigerian National Communication Policy is to
make Nigeria “a communicating nation”. It strives to create and sustain
national ethos and consensus around the idea that open, constant, widespread,
inclusive, constructive and development-oriented communication is the “Nigeria
way”, for enhancing the quality of life of her people, resolving social
conflicts and for facilitating systematic, coherent and comprehensive
implementation the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other national
priority programmes (Nigerian National Communication Policy, 2010). Yet
effective communication remains a rare commodity. To bridge the communication
gap, MDAs must help everyone learn to say the right things to the right people
in the right channels i.e. use communication to facilitate both demand-creation
by right holders and supply-provision by duty bearers for sustainable national
development. That the only way, we can move away from sloganeering to change
the context of change management, effective communication is crucial if
citizens are to make intelligent judgements about policies and activities of
their elected representatives in the quest for sustainable development.  Also, through communication, it is hoped that
citizens will have the necessary background to participate fully in the
formation of government policies (Wilcox, Ault, and Agee, 1995: 394).
in Development Paradigms and Communication for Development
Development is the accumulation of human capital and its
effective investment in the progress of an economy. It entails improvement in
the quality as well as quantity of life.In looking at shifts, in the 1920’s –
1940’s, it focused on Economic cum Cultural Progress and Exploitation of
natural resources; 1940’s – 1960’s, Economic Progress hinged on industrialization
as vehicle of economic development; 1950’s – 1970’s,  Economic Progress cum Rural Development by
recognizing  disparity in income; 1970’s,
Integrated rural Development leveraging on Agri-production and geographic
equity; 1980’s – Participatory Development, which emphasized  Reversal of TOP–DOWN approach; and the 1990’s
– Sustainable Development.
term sustainable development was put into the lexicon of international
discourse by the World Conservation Strategy of 1980 (IUCN, WWF, UNEP). The
paradigm (pattern/model)of
development is an approach to economic planning that attempts to foster
economic growth while preserving the quality of the environment for future
generations. Despite its enormous popularity in the last two decades of the
20th century, the concept of sustainable
development proved difficult to apply in many cases.”  For development to be human and sustainable it
must be centered on the human beings and has to integrate:
economic development,
social development,
environmental stewardship,
political stability (democracy, human rights, rule of law, gender
   — not just
for today but for the generations to come.
the communication dimension, communication for development is about the use of
communication for social change in order to improve the lives of the socially
excluded. The communication for Social Change Consortium (2009, p.1) defined it
as a process of public and private dialogue, which the people themselves define
who they are, what they need and how to get what they need in order to improve
their own lives. It utilises dialogue that leads to collective problem
identification decision making and community-based implementation of solutions
to development issues. In the 60s-70s, it was referred to as information,
communication and education (IEC) and the approach was information
dissemination through mass and tradition media, while the audience was
perceived as passive recipients of information. During the 80s-90s, it was
behaviour change communication/social marketing focusing on individual
knowledge, attitude and behaviour, while audience input and feedback were
necessary for design of campaigns. In 2010 till date, it is referred to as
communication for behaviour and social change, which focuses on individuals in
the context of socio cultural norms, networks and social networks. Emphasis is
on participatory approaches, community engagement in defining issues and
identifying options for action.

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and Change Management
Communication in all its dimension is central to
change management and sustainable development. The citizen and those at the
helm of affairs in our country need information to enable them participate and
contribute positively towards the development of our nation. As such,  government need to share information about
her programmes, and mobilise the citizens for support. Also, government need
publicity and visibility. This is against the backdrop that the public sphere
has also become more democratic and decentralised as more voices, hitherto
marginalised or totally absent have come into play. This implies that today’s
communication thrives on the struggle for representation of diverse viewpoints,
perspectives and interest. Thus the need to persuade and influence as these
groups have different needs and demands. So, for the change begins with me
campaign to succeed, FGN must at all times seek legitimacy, which comes from
popular support for and acceptance of the campaign (Oso, 2014).   So, the two main issues in change management
and sustainable development are the importance of communication; and the
proliferation of interest groups (humans) all jostling for attention in the
quest for our national development.
communication in its various dimensions and settings has gone beyond just
issuing press releases, addressing a press conference, giving speeches and
addressing political rallies or launching a campaign as in the launch of the
“change begins with me” campaign. information dissemination is only a one-way street…and
it has minimal effect that is why advertising alone will not make people switch
detergent or toothpaste.  according to (Njoku, 2015) researches have shown
that human beings are very
complex;  have minds of their own; their
behaviours are influenced by certain factors that vary from context to context;
they not passive. relating with people as people brings us nearer to reality…it
is called engagement (as equal partners pursuing mutual benefits).
communication for change management as in the change begins with me campaign,
efforts should go beyond media relations and interactions with journalist and
media gatekeepers, which seem to have been the dominant form. This is against
the backdrop that current t approaches to communication is now more result-oriented;
and adopting a more multifaceted approach across diverse communication
platforms and well-targeted audience and focused messages.  There is now a shift to strategic
communication, which “is more than the “standard communications usually associated
with governmental public affairs, public diplomacy, international broadcasting,
and information operations…” (Kevin McCarty quoted in Oso, 2014:3.
the communication landscape has changed. Technology has changed the ecology of
communication. The new media has democratised the media space and consumers are
now creators and disseminators of contents. New media has enabled the emerging
forces to challenge the established ones, at least at the discourse and social
mobilisation levels. As, a result various governments across the globe are
engaging in more dynamic ways of engaging her citizenry (Sibe, 2014).
there is a shift from dominant media-centric model of communicating programmes;
and the talking-to-model i.e. informational model to the talking-with model
(Moemeka, 2012). there is a move from designing messages to engaging with audiences; move from ad hoc
programmes to systematic, planned and evidence-driven approaches; move from
telling people what to do to learning from people what works for them; ask more
questions than give many expert answers!; and the people are the experts
(Njoku, 2015). This is the domain of strategic communication.
the various change campaigns have suffered several defects, some which have been
highlighted above. In particular, it does appear that communication strategy
has focused more on mass media campaigns, which may create awareness but may
not result in behavioural change. A basic requirement for change campaign is a
holistic communication driven by a good communication strategy plan.
is the way forward?  While arguing that
there is the need for having a team of communication experts to design a
communication strategy and drive the implementation of the Change begins with
me campaign for sustainable development; the lead paper and various presenters
in the sub-themes, have the responsibility of charting the road map.
you for listening
Ogwezzy-Ndisika, PhD, MNIPR, arpa.


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