Effective Communication Between Orphanages And Government Establishment BY REV.GABRIEL OYEDIJI (National President – ASOHON)
- At Asohon Lagos State Chapter Seminar
Permit me to use the word relationship instead of Communication, since this sound more comprehensive than just information dissemination.
The need to build good awareness, deep caring, supportive, harmonious and effective relationship with government establishment is fast becoming more urgent than ever.
As the challenges of social care in Nigeria is fast advancing and escalating, the need to transform the perceptions of government officials and some members of the public to the right tracks as to the activities of homes and Orphanages in Nigeria is very important.
There are both real and also superficial barriers to relating with Government bodies in Nigeria and biggest of the barrier is distrust.
Operators are viewed as businessmen and women who have come to merchandize social services for personal gain.
Our aim in this seminar is how to develop tools for breaking this barrier and develop greater common understanding and more respectful, collaborative and sincere relationship between Asohon and Governmental Institutions.
It is also about how to develop and adopt a model of communication that is transparent, legal and respective, devoid of rude reaction, insultive disposition and unfair handling of serious matters when attention is needed.
The present approach to the Government relations is based on high handedness and technical disregard of efforts of operators. We now require as a matter of urgency an integrated Government – facing strategies that addresses the challenges we are facing as Orphanage Operators and we need to position our association for long term success.
We advocate that International Standard of Social Care that has come to change the customary approach and streamline Orphanage Operation in Nigeria requires deeper knowledge, broad network of relationships and more coordination with stakeholders to ensure coherence between home operators and the Government. It also require strengthened capabilities to plan, respond and adapt to on going change.
An effective government facing strategy will ease the path to Asohon objectives and help to forge strong working relationships with various state Governments around the country. This will mitigate the challenges and help to retain the social license to operate.
An effective government- facing strategy goes beyond building relationships with high – level Government officials because a narrow approach often overlook key lower officers who deal directly with homes and report to the top supervising officers.
The Governments across the country have been making so much demands on home operators beyond what they conveniently meet. They ask for so much without considering an investment in social care homes in the country. With good relationship with the Government, Asohon has a better chance of getting fund and needed facilities in the homes. It will help retain access to public funds, foster smooth operating conditions, enhance Asohon reputation in the country and elsewhere and bolter its standing a preferred partners with the Government.
WHEN GOVERNMENT RELATIONS GET STRAINED.
In a joint venture relationship between Asohon and Government, tension between the partners often create an atmosphere of mistrust and the shutting down of communications. Restriction of operators in decision making over matters that concerns them. Instead of addressing the underlying issues and developing a unified approach to Government relations, the members of Asohon try to manage relationships with the government individually and independently.
Sometimes conflicting messages from social welfare department cause us to become frustrated and disinterested. Decisions are generally made and policies are developed without consultation with operators. Enforcement of unacceptable policies from the government lead to violations. Unfortunately, we have not seriously addressed the issues with Governments.
At this point, a rigorous diagnostic will identify several issues affecting the Government relationship and these include lack of a coherent strategy and communication plan, unclear process on our responsibilities. These problems have been escalated by disharmony, disagreement amongst Asohon members.
Similarly, a productive relationship will help establish a positive enduring presence of Asohon in all Government Institutions and boost our reputation as trusted partners for Government.
How Are We Going To Achieve This?
Unity among Asohon members
No rancor, unnecessary competition, jealousy, malice, prideful disposition, self- respect.
- No malpractice –‘He who must come to equity, must come with clean hands’. All forms of illegal practices must stop – child merchandising, report manipulations, fraudulent behaviour etc
- Standard Operational Practice- We must follow our code of conduct and make our work authentic.
- We must build trust in ourselves and complement one another
- Cooperation with executive body regarding annual dues and attendance of meetings planned for constructive discussions.
- Standardize our operations and our homes.
- Have confidence in our work as social interveners
- Come out of our hiding – press conference, social visit to Governor, House of Assembly, the Police Commissioners, the family court Judges etc
- Bold approach in demanding our rights and respect from Government officials and other supervising officials
- Good public relations with other relevant organization (Good networking)
- Engaging the media in getting public attention, creating public awareness.
- Regular training on organisational development and management.
- Taking critical matters up with the Government in the most civil manner.
- Inviting key Government officials to our seminars and training and creating platform for good interactions.
Component of Government – Facing Strategy
The strategic plan should involve the following:-
- Objectives and Goals
The plan to engage the Government must carry goals and objectives. It must be properly made to carry good value of involvement in social care for the state
Ii. Position on Key Matters
The planned relationship must provide key opportunity for adequate representation in policy development and extension. Government expectation must be made clear and acceptable while could be compromise established.
SCOPE: The relationship scope and limitation must be established clearly. No party must have unlimited control and domineering stand. Relationships must be flexible.
Resource and capabilities formulating policies without consideration of capabilities should not be encouraged. Adequate training and education to cope with new laws and policies must be made.
- Importance Of Influence
Finding the right people for Government-facing – role is crucial. Asohon should seek the best talent and encourage them to come up in the exco.
Influence is the life blood of Government relations. It can help Asohon in negotiation on critical issue and smoothen out inevitable bumps in relationship with Government.
Winning and retaining influence requires strong executives, with experience in management and effective communications. To advance the goals of Asohon and improve the Asohon image before the Government, It is important that gifted, members of Asohon must come out and participate in the running of the association for the common benefit of members.
A robust, adaptable government- facing strategy will help Asohon navigate opportunities, facilitate the realization of our goals and objectives.
The resulting relationship with Government and the attendant mutual understanding will form the foundation for a bright future for Asohon.