The importance of public relations to national development cannot be over-emphasised. Apart from the building and sustenance of good image and rapport between and organisation and its stakeholders, this tool of communication is highly potent in security and the protection of lives and property.
This position has been confirmed at the just-concluded security summit and the official launch of the Police Campaign Against Cultism and Other Vices (POCACOV), Ogun State Police Command, held in Abeokuta, the capital city of the Gateway State, which was organised by the state command of the Nigeria Police Force and the Ogun State Government.
The gathering offered another opportunity for security experts and the citizenry to examine the state of insecurity in the nation and to forge a way forward.
The Chairman of the occasion was the Vice-Chancellor, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State, Prof. Kolawale Salako, enjoined youths, who are prone to cultism and social vices, not to compromise their bright future for criminal activities.
The Vice-Chancellor appreciated the state police command and the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu, for organising such an important programme that would promote constant police-community relations in the interest of the state and our dear nation.
Salako, Professor of Soil Physics and Fellow, Soil Science Society of Nigeria (FSSSN), disclosed that POCACOV had brought every stakeholder together with a view to resolve the issue of cultism and other vices, assuring that FUNAAB would continue to partner with the police to engender a safe society.
The IGP, who was represented by the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, CP Edward Ajogun, lauded the IGP on the formation of POCACOV, which he said was the first of its kind and involves the active participation of relevant stakeholders.
The police commissioner maintained that the country should entrust its future in the hands of youths with the right values and orientation to take the country to greater heights of competitiveness, recognition, and respect among the comity of nations.
He pointed out that if the nation fails to reorient its citizenry, the youth could have a wrong attitude and orientation by engaging whose way in gangsterism, secret rituals, and voodoo, which could ground the country to a halt in terms of development.
CP Ajogun advised that cultism and other vices should be confronted with the seriousness they deserve. Goodwill messages were delivered by the Ogun State Governor, Prince (Dr.) Dapo Abiodun, represented by his Special Adviser on Security, AIG Olusola Subair (retd), who promised that the state government would continue to support the programme by ensuring that cultism and other vices were mitigated.
The Special Adviser to Ogun State Governor on Primary and Secondary Education, Mrs. Ronke Soyombo also affirms that the summit and the launch of POCACOV would go a long way in setting children and young ones free, assuring that “The state government, through the ministry of education, will partner and work with POCACOV on the wonderful initiative of the Nigeria Police Force” while the Iyalode of Egbaland, Chief (Mrs.) Alaba Lawson thanked IGP Adamu for the initiative, as she advised parents, caregivers, and guardians to properly monitor their children and wards.
During the well-attended event, which was graced by top state functionaries and sister security agencies, a retired Commissioner of Police and former Force Police Public Relations Officer, Dr. Emmanuel Ojukwu presented a lecture titled; Cultism: A Growing Menace and Destructive Element in the Socio-Economic Development of Nigeria.
Dr. Ojukwu attributed the high rate of cultism and other vices in the country to corrupt practices, injustice and broken homes, pointing out that Nigeria had lost its cherished values of integrity, diligence, and hard work, resulting in making youths to seek justice through cult involvement.
He reiterated that the incidence of cultism and other vices can be tamed through the activities of POCACOV that could discourage young ones from getting involved in the vices.
The official inauguration of the state chapter of the POCACOV/National Youth Service Corps Community Development Service (CDS) also took place while the National Coordinator of POCACOV, CSP Ebere Amaraizu gave an overview of the programme.
According to CSP Amaraizu, the campaign is a public relations tool of the NPF involving different stakeholders and entails value reorientation and engagement to offer strategic leadership direction through advocacy, awareness creation and sensitisation, mentoring and reorientation.
POCACOV, which is an initiative of the incumbent IGP, was borne out of the desire to curb crime through community policing.
It is only hoped that after the summit, all the stakeholders would do the necessary follow-up as a key requirement to achieving virile public relations, going by the prescription of Sam Black, a former Professor of Public Relations at the University of Sterling in Scotland, who argues that the establishment of two-way communication would help to resolve the conflict of interest by seeking common ground or areas of mutual interest and the establishment of understanding based on truth, honesty, and full information.
What we urgently need to curb cultism and social vices are indeed truth, honesty, and full information.