By Felix Obiekezie Udefuna
One of the American’s greatest philosophers of his time, Dr William James Stated that “The greatest discovery of our life is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitude of mind”. This century old saying still holds the truth in a new concept known as FOOD HYIGENE INITATIVE OF NIGERIA now about to be signed into law at the National Assembly. At the moment, the Bill has passed through Public hearings.
Consequently, the Director General of the organization, Ambassador, Dr JN Karimu, disclosed that the “World Health Organization (WHO)” has confirmed that unsafe food has been a long term human health challenge and hence many health safety issues encountered today are not new. It has estimated that 1.8 million people die each year as a result of diarrhea and most of the case can be attributed to contaminated food and water”
The director general who was speaking during the passing out ceremony of the 9th Bath of Staff Officers of the organization on January 27, 2021 in Abuja noted that the situation needed to be contained. For instance, he disclosed that a research conducted by “Mead,P.S“ in 1999 revealed that more than 200 known diseases are transmitted through food intake. He added that since inception, the organization had been aggressively been promoting food hygiene standards and practices all over the nation with a specific mandate of ensuring food for better health.
According to him, “our commitment to promoting health by setting food hygiene standards and practices as well as fight against food, and water borne diseases in Nigeria through coordinated food water handlers’ educational training and programmes has indeed created a new wave of awareness and capacity among Nigerians in this important aspect of human life”Karimu, further pointed out that the Food Hygiene Initiative of Nigeria is dedicated to education and training of food handlers, food operators as well as administrators
to apply the best hygienic and safe handling standards and practices in Nigerian.This opportunity, he explained had exposed the training officers to the new knowledge that would enable them to assist health workers in adopting modern techniques of preservation so as to reduce food poisoning across the country. To this effect, the director- general charged the newly trained officers to make good use of the new knowledge, information and skills they had acquired in the discharge of their duties.He urged them to carry out the work with great responsibility as the task ahead of then required to be done with utmost- regard to succeed. In addressing the bad level of food safety and hygiene practices which to a large extent, is responsible for the high frequency of food disease in Nigeria, he said that all officers must always work in synergy to do well.Dr. Karimu has also announced with delight that the fight against food and water borne diseases was making progress and that the new organization had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Katina State Ministry of health in this regard. In addition, he commended the National Assembly for passing the Bill seeking for an act to establish the NIGERIA FOOD SAFETY AND HYGIENE SURVEILLANCE CORPS which had already passed through second and subsequent public hearing stage.
Enthusiastically, he stated that, “at this development stage of our life as a nation, it is pertinent that we have an Agency that is fully responsible for regulating, supervising and overseeing food safety and hygiene practices in markets, eating places, training rounds and issuance of national license to persons participating in raw, cooked, hawking businesses in order to avoid food and water contamination and mishandling. The Food Hygiene Initiative of Nigeria (FHIN) is a non – profit, non political and no- religious which aims at promoting of health by setting food hygiene standards and preventing as well as fighting against food and water borne diseases in Nigeria.It works to mobilize and promote welfare of Nigerians to make sure that every Nigeria receives adequate training, registration and license on food hygiene, water hygiene, personal hygiene and sanitation before embarking on any food and water business in Nigeria. The officers were trained to build a healthy relationship with security organisations such as DSS, Police and Civil Defence etc. In addition, they were trained to work with their sister Organisation such as NAFDAC, SON, CAC, and others.
THE OVERALL OBJECTIVES OF THE ORGANIZATION ARE AS FOLLOWS:
1. Food safety and hygiene/enlightenment.
2. Environmental and personal hygiene education.
3. Organization and executing program, project, workshops and seminars on life saving courses and activities.
4. Food hygiene inspection to all food business owners and operators.
5. Prevention of food contamination through government enlightment and public private partnership (PPP).6. To educate farmers and food producers on measures to control post- harvest losses.
7. To go into partnership and collaboration with corporate persons, organizations, federal, state, local governments and authorities at the ward and international levels.
8. To organize food hygiene education at all education levels. In order to the apply the above eight- point- objective for Proper perspective and better unblerstanding of what FOOD HYGIENE INTIATIVE OF NIGERIA stands for, it is imperative to adopt “Burt Swersey’s bright idea of Bell Study. Bell Labs Study is a case in which stars in an engineering division seemed to owe their success more to emotional intelligence skills than to technical ones, and it inspired Swersey to try something with his new engineering students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute USA. It is known as “ five simple secrets of success:”Rapport, empathy, persuasion, cooperation and consensus building. Nigeria must wake up from its present slumber and wage war against the impending doom of food epidemic, poisoning, water and air borne pestilence now eclipsing the nation. Right thinking Nigerians should not be told that:Food hygiene and safety practices in Nigeria are below standard, unsatisfactory and to a large extent are responsible for the high prevalence of food borne diseases arising from consumption of contaminated foods in this country. They are a lot of junks foods in our streets roads food establishments and services area and markets awaiting confiscation and destruction because of their deadly contents and poor nutritional values. Hawking or vending is a common sight on our highways as one travels from one state to another. Who prepares such food? Where are they prepared and when they were prepared should be the concern of everybody given the great consequences of injesting un safe food. The open display and exposure of raw, cooked and ready- to – eat food meant for human consumption are exposed to contaminants such as dust and flies and other environmental factors is a common practice which has largely contributed to the cause of food borne diseases.These diseases which manifest in form of gastro intestinal disorders, kidney dysfunction, cancer and even death have continued to form significant of morbidity and mortality in the country. Most of those involved in the food business, food handling are neither aware of the importance of food hygiene and safety nor the environment in which these foods are produced is conducive.
Food borne illness is as a result of foods containing significant amounts of harmful micro organisms, poisons of biological or chemical origins of harmful chemicals which are used to enhance food production or preservation. Food borne illness may occur from contamination arising from poor or careless food handling at any stage between production, preparation, cooking and consumption). The importance of FOOD HYGIENE INITIATIVE OF NIGERIA cannot be overstressed as its strategic role in the life of more than 200 million citizens of Nigeria depends on the success of the project. And in order to make the organization achieve its lofty objectives, a comprehensive public relations campaign is needed so as to spread the good message of the organization to all nooks and crannies of the nation.
DEFINITION AND THE ROLE OF PUBLIC RELATION TO NATIONALS DEVELOPMENT.
A. Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Public Relations is a deliberate, planned and sustained effort aimed at establishing and maintaining good will and mutual understanding between an organization and its publics.
B. The Mexican Statement The world Assembly of Public Relations Associations gave its own definition of Public Relations in Mexico in 1978.
It said “ Public Relations is the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organization’s leadership and implementing planned programmes of action that will serve both the organization and public interests.
C. Sam BlackPublic Relation is the art and science of achieving harmony with environment through mutual understanding based on truth and full information.D. Frank Jefkins Public Relations consists of all forms of planned communication outwards and inwards between an organization and its publics for purpose of achieving specific objectives concerning mutual understanding.After critical reviewing of the four definitions here, are eleven (11) facts about public Relations.1. PR IS A DELIBERATE ACT (CIPR)Public Relations activities are intentional, done on purpose or for a purpose and are intentional, done or purpose or for a purpose and not accidental. They are carefully set out to achieve an aim or objective.PR activities are carefully planned and organized or arranged as events, programmmes or campaigns. They are never carried out done haphazardly.
3. PR ACTIVITIES ARE SUSTAINED (CIPR)Public relation activities are continuous. They have a time frame during which specific objectivities and purpose must be achieved. PR activities are always carried out as a project or effort to take care of certain situation that evolve. They are meant to exist for a period of time without interruptions.4. THE GOAL OF PR IS TO ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING AND GOOD WILL.The objective of PR is to ensure that the activities, programme, products services and policies of an organization are understood by others. This is carried out through de liberate actions and programme which are meant to create knowledge that will actually generate the understanding and goodwill of the publics.5. PR is an Art (Mexican Statement 1978) Public relation is an activity or skill that can be learned, studied or developed through training and practice. It is therefore not an all comers’ affair. It requires special training like other specialist function such asmedicine, law and accounting.6 PR IS A SOCIAL SCIENCE(MEXICAN STATEMENT ) PR is about the responsibility of an organization to society or public interest. It has to do with social behavior of an organization which eventually determines its goodwill and reputation in the society.
7. ANALYZING TRENDS AND PREDICTING CONSEQUENCES (MEXICAN STATEMENT)This means that RP makes use of research. Therefore, it is a science .
8 COUNSELING , IMPLEMENTING PROGRAMMES (MEXICAN STATEMENT)Public relations is a top management function. Therefore, it must be part of the hierarchy of the organization where it can be in a position to counsel the management or the organization’s leadership. This position ensures that it is able to also plan and implement various activities and programmes to effect necessary changes and achieve the desired objectives for achieving harmony (Sam Black).
The ultimate objective of every public relations activities is to achieve harmony in the internal and external environments. That is ensuring peaceful existence of the organization and to be in agreement with its publics.
10 TRUTH AND FULL INFORMATION (SAM BLACK)Public Relations does not think about individual or organization alone. It is not out to create good impression based on selfishness and self- centeredness. Its aim is to create mutual understanding through communication. It gives full information and says the truth no matter the situation. This is one area when Public Relations is totally different from propaganda. It does not tell lies. Instead, it achieves its purposes and objectives by educating the people, telling it as it is and getting the people to understand the situation. In this way, it is able to reach an agreement that will eventually create harmony and peaceful existence between the organization and its environment.11. SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES (FRANK JEFKINS)Public relations communication is planned and targeted towards achieving specific objectives. Its objectives are not only the creation and sustenance of mutual understanding, though these are its fundamental or basic objectives. However, definite and specific goals like establishing new corporate identity, creating interest of people in the organization and its activities , advocacy on certain issues and changing wrong attitudes of the Public towards an organization may be the objective of a public relations activity, or programme is clear: It is to achieve a stipulated or expected goal.The fact that Public Relations activities have specific objectives also means the results must be evaluated at the end to find how far such objects have been achieved. This proves that Public Relations activities are subjected to evaluation or measurement to determine if the actual rate of activities are tangible. The activities that are intangible or not measurable are those purposeless , non- objectives public relations targeted at some narrow desires like creation of good impression or seeking good mention in the press.
NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTAfter definition and the role of Public Relations to National Development, we now move to what is Development According to Professor Udeze (2005 p32) development is one word that everybody in every nation and of every language and culture is aware of and talks about. It means different things to different people but all agree on one major thing, which is that development means a positive, quantitative and qualitative in the life of people. It is like the story of blind men and the elephant and each person describes it from his or her own perspective.This has led us to a situation, which leaves us with no accepted operational definition of development or best way to pursue development.The author of “How The Europe Underdeveloped Africa”, Walter Rodeny defined Development thus: Development in human society is a many – sided process. At the level of the individual, it implied increased skill and capacity, greater freedom, creativity, self-discipline, responsibility and material- wellbeing. A society develops economically as its members increase jointly their capacity for dealing with the environment and is dependent on the extent to which they put that understanding into practice by devising tools (technology), and on the manner in which work is organized. Taking a long term view it can be said that there has been constant economic development with human society since the origin of man because man has multiplied enormously his capacity to win a living for future.A notable Indian journalist and Author, M V Kamath in his famous book “The Journalist’s Hand Book asks: what is Development? The removal of poverty, the lessening of disparity between regions and classes, the building up of the technological infrastructure, modernization of society through shedding
feudalism, tribalism, and superstition, the gradual achievement of economic sel- reliance.Development is measured in the improvement of the lives of the people and the strengthening of the family’s or the individual’s capacity to deal with the rest of the society and of the nations capacity to deal with the world.The above three definitions of development exquisitely fall within the purview of what the philosophy of the Food Hygiene Initiative of Nigeria (FHIN) stands for.The Mission Statement of (FHIN) is: To work in collaboration with Federal, State Governments, to prevent and fight all forms of food and water vending and handling practices on daily basis from food production/ water catchment to consumption.And its vision promises to be a class and formidable international organization that would recognize influence towards promotion of hygiene and produce good food for better health in the world. *Udefuna (MNUJ, ANIPS, JP), a veteran journalist, lives in Port Harcourt