A Communication and Public Relations Strategist, Dr. Walter Duru has called on public institutions across Africa to evolve plans for rumour management as part of their overall communication strategy.
Duru, an Assistant Professor of Communications and Multimedia Design made the call while contributing to a discourse on communications and citizens engagement during the just concluded ID4Africa Conference held in Marrakech, Morocco.
Describing rumour management as an important public relations function, the communication expert argued that rumours can puncture public trust, frustrate investments and adversely affect project implementation, if not properly managed.
He described as dangerous the failure of some public institutions in Africa to include rumour management as part of their overall communication strategy development.
“Rumour management is an important public relations function that every organisation must take very seriously. Rumours can trigger trust issues for public and private programmes/projects and organisations. Rumours lead to erosion of trust and morale. They increase anxiety and create serious distractions for organisations.
“Beyond the workplace, rumours can make project implementation difficult and they spread very fast. Contemporary public relations practise takes rumour management very seriously.
“Failing to have a strategy for managing rumour can lead to the failure of a project or policy, no matter how important they may be. Every communication strategy must have activities and a deliberate plan for rumour management,” he said.
On the importance of Identification for citizens, Duru described it as a right of everyone, calling on all Africans to join the campaign for a legal form of identification for all.
He added: “United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16.9 expects that by 2030, each and every person in the world should have a legal identity. The target is to achieve 100% Legal Identity by 2030. Identity is a human right. If you have no form of identity, you are invincible.
“Proper identification will enable the government to plan properly, in order to deliver good governance. Without an identity, you will have difficulties assessing government services.
“In Nigeria, the National Identity Management Commission – NIMC is issuing unique National Identity Numbers (NIN). Citizens are strongly advised to look for the nearest enrolment centers to enrol in order not to be left out. Ignore whatever misinformation that may have been out there and go and get enrolled, in your own interest.
“Today, the Nigeria Digital Identification for Development (Nigeria ID4D) project is here to support NIMC and other public institutions in Nigeria to realize their mandates. It is jointly funded by the World Bank, European Investment Bank and French Development Agency.
“Efforts are also being made to ensure that the legal framework on data protection in Nigeria is strengthened. Nigerians should get their NIN now, as it is a win-win for all citizens.”