University Don asks FG to deploy unconventional tactics in enforcing COVID-19 guidelines

From left, Resident Representative of Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung in Nigeria, Dr Vladimir Kreck; Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba; and, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mrs Olusola Idowu at the closing ceremony of the capacity-building programme for ministerial aides in Abuja on Monday.


A professor of Mass Communication at Baze University, Abiodun Adeniyi, has advised the federal government not to give up its campaign on COVID-19 prevention protocols, saying Nigeria could lead the way by using “guerilla marketing communication” tactics in enforcing the guidelines.

Adeniyi spoke at the just-concluded workshop series for special advisers and technical assistants of ministers, organised by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in collaboration with the ministry of finance, budget and national planning in Abuja.

He said behaviour change communication was one of the most difficult types, and required a higher level of creativity if success was to be achieved.

He said the elements of “guerrilla communication” involved surprise messaging, novel channels of multiple dissemination, and intense campaign themes, to impact on audience emotions.

“What we need, therefore, is shock messaging that would invade the consciousness and imagination of receivers, overwhelm them and get them to rethink their patterns and particularities,” he said.

“This tactic is uncommon but effective; unusual but legitimate, and looks more at a quicker achievement of results, given the lethargy of citizens to imbibe COVID-19 prevention protocols, like regular hand washing, social or physical distancing, and the avoidance of crowd or gatherings.

“It is that fear of death that messaging can play on, even if not morbid, but through a creative thematization, weaved around fears, expectations, and a hope of going beyond tomorrow, and another tomorrow.”

According to the professor, “campaigns can now be easier through divergent language, multiple channels, other than the conventional, and in a way that the receivers would be awed and forced to comply to save the self and the society.”

He stated further: “The form of communication does not also envisage single, regular messaging, where people become too familiar with it and take things for granted, but one that is creative, constantly changing, appreciated and liked by the receivers, not just because the messenger is determined to stay on the theme, but because he is respected for being innovative, leading to effectiveness.

“We have a pandemic that requires the adoption of non-pharmaceutical methods to interrupt its spread. This non-pharmaceutical method is obviously the raising of awareness on pattern change, an urgent need to cultivate a new normal. But the change won’t come easily if you cannot fund it, or pay attention to it.”

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