Well Done But Not All Done: A Review Of Mr. Gideon’s Stewardship As PRO

By: Utibe Emmanuel

“Shall be the Chief Image Maker of the hall.” These are the opening words of Article VI, section III of the Indy Hall constitution which outlines the primary duties of the Public Relations Officer of the hall. Like a great commission, it charges whosoever finds himself occupying the office of the PRO with the primary goal of shaping the public perception of the Katanga Republic within it and without.

Mr Babalola Gideon, who was elected to the position has now served two semesters, an ample amount of time for him to have fulfilled this constitutional commissioning and even more importantly, those things which he promised to the people of Katanga Republic during his election that he would do. In this article, we will be taking a critical view of Mr. Gideon’s delivery so far as PRO looking through the lens of both what the constitution has fundamentally charged him to do and also what he has charged himself to do in line with what the constitution asks as stated in his manifesto.

Through Constitutional Lens

Aside from being the chief image maker of the hall, the constitution goes on to charge the PRO with several other things which include: being responsible for the publicity of the activities of the hall, being the executive that interfaces with the Independence Hall Literary and Debating Society and taking the minutes of the meetings of the executive council in the absence of the Secretary of State or when he is in acting capacity.

In light of these, as regards the minutes of the executive council meetings,an article by Indy Press revealed that minutes were not taken down at the executive council meetings, rather, “recommendations” were noted down. To avoid overflogging the issues, we would be leaving it at the fact that it is unacceptable that minutes of executive meetings were not taken. Regardless of whom it falls upon to write minutes, it is ultimately important for these records to kept.

Now to the main things we all alike associate the office of the PRO with: the issue of publicity of the hall’s activities and, invariably, the shaping of the public perception of the republic, we must say that, so far, the current PRO gets a pass on that. Why? We must acknowledge that this year, more than in previous years, publicity of Indy activities most especially on social media has improved and a casual scroll through the social media pages of the hall shows that there has been an increased sense of liveliness and far more engagement. But then when this is juxtaposed with the fact that in line with the decline which has been seen in the use of the physical PR systems mounted up in the hall to adequately inform and entertain Katangites, this leaves a bitter-sweet taste in the performance of Mr. Gideon. 

All But a Few 

Aside from what framework the constitution has laid down for each office, promises are always made in the form of manifestoes which are put forth by aspirants as a summary document outlining all the plans they would be working to achieve when they eventually enter office. Now it’s good to note that Mr Gideon in his 4-page manifesto tried to keep his plans simple and clear which would make implementation easy when he eventually got into office. We would now be looking at how well he has performed through the lens of his very own manifesto.

Firstly, Mr. Gideon promised that he would increase the social media presence of the hall most especially by making the social media pages of the hall more engaging by constantly posting relatable content and promoting members of the hall who are noteworthy in one aspect or the other. As seen above, we already acknowledge that the current PRO has tried very much in this regard as indeed Indy can boast an increased social media presence for which we acknowledge the effort of the PRO. But what is left to be said here is the fact that despite how well he has tried there are still some aspects which he mentioned he would do, like the showcasing of Katangites which he could have done better. He also spoke about introducing vox pop interviews which were not seen to for unclear reasons.

Speaking to him though generally on the first point of his manifesto, when quizzed on if it was possible to do better despite how well he has done so far as regards this, he answered in the affirmative and talked about his effort to always see that Indy’s social media presence could be improved substantially.

Next, Mr. Gideon talked about forming a media team that would consist of talented Katangites who would help in proper coverage of the social activities that are done in the hall and also give these persons the opportunity to properly hone their skills while contributing to the Republic. Truly, the PRO had formed a media team that was largely responsible for much of the various contents which are put out to the Indy social media platforms.

Thirdly, he said that he was going to set up a Whatsapp TV; the idea was to further use the large audience that can be garnered from it to publicise the hall’s activities further but in the end, the idea never came to be. This was a case of an outright failed promise of Mr PRO. To date, there is no WhatsApp TV and nothing of it has been voiced right from the start of his administration.

In the interview we had with the PRO, he acknowledged that sadly he has so far failed in the aspect of delivering on the promise of WhatsApp TV. He said that he tried but due to the issue he had time with his device at the time, that had stopped him from actualizing it yet. He said that he might still make an effort to set it up in the remaining weeks of his tenure and pass it on to his successor. 

The next two promises of the PRO in his manifesto hinged on the continuation of  Indy Radio and the provision of a portable public address system. Indeed, the portable PA was gotten and it has served well in several instances in the hall, notable among which was its use in mobilizing Kantangites to go and support our LnD speakers during this year’s Jaw War. It was also confirmed that the PA system is still in good working condition. But as regards the Indy radio situation, it still leaves so much to be said.

As we have noted in the opening parts of this article, the PRO has not been able to reverse the decline that has befallen Indy radio, thus steadily transforming the tales of Indy radio into another relic from the past like the one-time health post. 

As regards the radio, the PRO had in his manifesto said he would work to address the technical issue which was the main hindrance to the deliverability of Indy Radio. He also talked about creating online avenues to listen in just like what we once had three years ago. While it would seem that at one time, repairs were made on the cones, that did not seem to solve the issue of the sound, and the idea of revamping the online platforms remained ink on paper.

The PRO in responding to this in the interview said that the inability to fix the sound is his excuse for the inactivity of Indy radio. He said given that the repairs had not addressed the issue of the sound, all that was left was for them to revamp the whole system with new equipment but that is not easy to do. While we agree and indeed sympathize with Mr. PRO and the Republic as to the issue with the sound system but then as had been put to the PRO in that interview, despite his excuses, efforts could have still been made to manage with what we currently have. It is not like the issue with the sound started just yesterday, even during the golden age of Indy Radio during the tenure of AY Cent the sound was not at its very best yet Indy Radio thrived because there was a willingness to indeed make it work. Also, the PRO was not innovative about the problem as the issue of the not-so-reliable physical broadcast speakers could have meant that online broadcasting on different platforms like was previously done at one time would make all the more sense. In short, the PRO despite the excuse was not up to the mark as it regards Indy Radio. 

Lastly, in his concluding three points from his manifesto, Mr. Gideon talked about how he would work closely with the Indy LnD as required by the constitution, work closely with the health and defense commissioner to raise awareness on health, sanitation, and defense issues, and also that he would ensure that there be a proper feedback channel available for Katangites. 

Indeed, it is seen that the PRO has delivered in two out of these, there has been a synergy between his office and the office of the health and defense commissioner in promoting awareness and it can be confirmed that he has also worked closely with the LnD even more this year.

But as regards the feedback mechanism he said he would inform Katangites of the availability of feedback boxes and also create a Google form, all that was not done. Speaking to him on these, he said that feedback boxes are indeed archaic when prompted and also made the point that he did not go ahead with the Google form because the SoS had put out an anonymous link that could be used to that effect. When quizzed on whether he had ensured that Katangites were well informed as regards the availability of these feedback channels, he said that he was sure that many Katangites were aware, adding that when faced with problems, Katangites have been able to meet him in his ‘DM’ or in-person to complain. On the contrary, though, a random sampling among freshers in A block to ascertain if they are made aware of these feedback channels showed that less than 4 in 10 show a glimmer of knowledge at all. While it can not be said that the PRO did nothing in regard to feedback, it can not also be said that his performance in this aspect was more than a fair performance. 

In conclusion, having looked critically at Mr. Gideon’s stewardship as PRO, we must say that indeed Mr Gideon has done well but there were still several aspects where he could have improved greatly and also other aspects he had failed to do. We would be expecting that at least for the remaining part of his tenure, he should make a move to do those things which can still be done and also to improve on those things which he should improve on.  

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