The Defence sector always seems to be a subject of divisive social debates as the public solely rely on the armed forces to proffer solution to the lingering security challenges in our nation. The Nigerian Air Force as an integral part of the armed forces is not an exclusion from the social debate and as such, citizens asks questions and are also inquisitive to know the value of the force.
While the work of journalists who cover the defence beat is visible, there’s a harder-to-see side: the communications pros who help reporters tell all sides of a story. This and other factors must have informed the unpalatable image that vast majority of citizens accord the Nigerian Armed Forces and other security agencies.
The capacity and level of professional conduct of the Public Relations manager goes a long way to determine the level of public acceptance and trust in that organization.
The relationship between reporters and communication professionals is often cantankerous and adversarial. Some PR managers evade and spin, or take glee in torturing reporters with irrelevant pitches. On the flip side, journalists can be gruff, tough, and demanding, especially on deadline.
However, the NAF within the folds of its copious intellectual breeds unveiled a PR folk whose tenure brought about exceptional achievements in branding, rejuvenating and building new trust for the force.
Though an Aircraft Engineer by profession, his intellectual prowess, managerial skills and nobility has laid a solid foundation for PR professionals not only in the military but larger society to emulate.
Air Vice Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanya when appointed as the Director of Public Relations and Information of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) in April 24, 2017 created a massive network of influence through open-door policy, timely dissemination of official information in a clear and succinct manner as well as proactive media-relations strategies that made, not only the defence reporters job easy but placed the NAF in a better perspective in the eyes of the public.
Heading the DOPRI team, has also enabled him strengthen the capacity of his staff, as many are been trained both in Nigeria and oversea to be better equipped in the discharge of their duties.
So far, the tenure of AVM Adesanya as the PR manager of the NAF between April 2017 to August 2018 has not only enhanced the awareness of the public about the statutory role of the NAF in defending the sovereignty of the nation, but has also brought to limelight the integral roles of the force in the counterinsurgency operations in the Northeast, through managing serious public relations crisis, creating awareness about platforms acquisitions and reactivations, showcasing research and development efforts thereby projecting acceptable image for the NAF.
Aside from exploiting the traditional media, AVM Adesanya also embraced the instrumentality of the new media to move the NAF information flow into the world of digital and content creation. The creation and launching of the Airman News Blog App, and other social media platforms brings to mind as another feat to facilitate and ensure timely dissemination of NAF information and activities.
A cursory look at the summary of activities on the NAF Facebook page for the past 16 months indicates a rapid growth in level of publications as well as upsurge in the number of audience that liked and follow the page. An average of 20-25 news stories were been published in a month with various posts reaching over 406,000 persons out of which over 203,000 either liked the posts or made one comment or the other. Also, within the past month, followers of the NAF page increased by over 5,400 persons to reach nearly 224,000 (from less than 99,000 in13 months ago). This of course, implies that the NAF Facebook page is gradually becoming a major news outlet on its own.
The Former DOPRI did not only engaged the Defence Beat Correspondents and other Journalists in reaching out to the society, he also became a household familiar face to the public with his constant appearances on Television and radio programmes for security talk-shows and interviews. Also the recently concluded tweet chat that gave Nigerians the opportunity to interact with him on salient issues and clarification on grey areas was another milestone in building reputation for the NAF.
AVM Adesanya could be concluded as a communicator par excellence with inherent capacity to bring about positive change within a short period and create a frame work for future development. Little wonder that the current Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar found him worthy to be appointed as the Nigeria Defence Adviser to Moscow in Russia.
No doubt that this communication guru would also employ his commitment to bring about strong military ties between Nigeria, host nation and other countries within his area of responsibility.
Air Vice Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanya is happily married and blessed with children