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Published On: Mon, Jul 14th, 2014

Mike Omeri, hits the gold

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Mike OmeriBy Paul Odenyi

If it is not the mood of the nation, this is really the time to celebrate Mike Omeri. It is not about ostentation or any political outreach but a clear acknowledgement of his passion for our country which manifests so clearly each time he has a public job to do. The truth must be told that while the nation may not be suffering from a deficit of men of vision and capacity, one thing that is clearly in short supply is people of passion for public good.

Omeri is one of those with this passion for public good. As coordinator of the National Information Centre, he and his colleagues at the Centre

are demonstrably infusing clarity and cohesion to information management about the war on terror in our country. There is no point belabouring the observation of the past where almost everybody in government had not just an opinion but often send in material to the press on what government is doing about the situation. Today, the National Briefing Centre provides timely information on all aspects of the campaign that even international press find time to seek official reaction on anything they hear.

At the National Orientation Agency (NOA) where he is the Director General the period of inactivity is over. The soundbites and footprints of the Agency are everywhere to be seen. You may not agree with the style, but a clear effort to put back on the front burner issues of our ethics, morality, character and support for government programmes is being made. The hallmark of that is a charge to our people to Do the Right Thing; to transform our country. For many that charge resonates well because it is a direct call to the people of Nigeria to resolve all the issues about our country through personal responsibility for bringing change in their own areas of endeavor.

Omeri began quite early to show deep interest in the progress of our country. As a kid born in a police barracks, he lived among several other kids without the colouration of tribe or religion. Often he recalls the story of how his parents made it a point of duty to make new dresses for him and siblings during Christmas and Sallah. His father’s career in the police made it easy to appreciate the difference between what is legal and good and what is not. It was a job that made him live among every group of people whether Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba or Kanuri. For him, that was the generation of love, peace, unity and progress. He was inspired by several people including his father for the discipline of the police in the past, and other political and social thinkers whose ideas are progressive.

Though a native of Keana in today’s Nassarawa state, he lived and went to school in Mubi, Maiduguri, Jos and briefly in Kenya. His return to Keana for a stint as a teacher was essentially to ensure that the wind of popular education sweeping through the country in the seventies and eighties did not leave his people behind. He was satisfied after a period of one year that his people were part of the race for the acquisition of education. He believes that life itself will always benefit from knowledge and more knowledge. Knowledge in itself is derived from education and exposure. He readily reels out the names of great men and women from the zone who have contributed immensely to the progress of the Nigerian society.

But he is impatient with restricted ideas which thrive in local spaces. According to him, while ideas and initiatives spring from the minds of individuals, it can only grow through the tree that spreads over and across the walls of those individuals. However, he has a lot of passion for Kwararafa nationalism which seeks to unify the several nations of the middle belt of Nigeria in realisation of its strategic place in the unity, peace and progress of the country. He bemoans the seeming penchant for conflict among communities in the Middle Belt.

In all of these, Omeri loves communication and its strategic place in development of any people or nation. For him, the clear interpretation of his job in NOA is to communicate ideas and policies, programmes and activities of government to people as a bridge for that necessary buy- in for development. One of the first things in NOA in 2012 was to appraise the reason why the attempt to deregulate the petroleum industry failed. The simple result was the failure of designer of that excellent policy to incorporate a communication component of the implementation plan. To demonstrate how that works, he sought the understanding of the Ministry of Power and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to communicate fully the benefits and otherwise of the Multi Year Tariff Order. Today, it matters not to many consumers how much they pay as electricity tariff, what is more important is that there should be regular power supply.

A fellow of the Nigerian institute of Public Relations, Omeri believes in its creed of practical truth as a basis for gaining public acceptance or understanding of any policy. That is why each day at the National Briefing Centre, he makes it clear that he can only say that which is correct and true about the situation in the troubled North Eastern part of the country.

He is also an optimist who believes that the security challenge facing the nation would soon be gone.

Omeri loves his family both extended and immediate. For him, the work of the NOA is also about handing over a cultured society to the future generation. That is why he is a great supporter of President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Assembly for the prohibition of same sex marriage in our land for the simple reason that it is alien and can never really find root in Nigeria. He believes also that the fight against moral decadence is one which must begin at home, with parents and other siblings playing active parts.

As a man of faith, he exemplifies the liberal attitude which is finding root in many religions believing also that the destiny of man is in His hands. At fifty, his destiny and that of the country is in the hands of all Nigerians hence at every point he says: Do The Right Thing to Transform Nigeria.

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