NIPR’s strategy for sustainable democracy

A plan predicated on ridding public relations of quacks is being implemented, punctiliously, by the skippers of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), It is an exercise that is taking a cue from the slogan; “Good people, Great nation”, and thus to make it effective, it intends to liaise with the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) to prosecute erring individuals, governmental organisations and multi-national corporations – in consonance with Section 19 of the NIPR Act, which “criminalises quackery, impersonation of public relations practitioner and false entry into the register of members”.

For the president of the NIPR, Dr. Rotimi Oladele, the current democratic dispensation offers an ample opportunity of an expansive political space for some sorelyneeded reflections and crafting some strategies on the way forward for the NIPR. With more than ten thousand members nationwide, Olade believes that the NIPR is wellpositioned and equipped to project the image of Nigeria in the comity of nations.

Indeed, as Oladele said, the past 15 has been characterized by a plethora of less cheerful developments – if it’s not the daily menu of corruption in high places, it’s the blood-curdling stories of kidnapping or abduction of highly visible public officers; if it’s not the Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east of the country, it’s the plucking of airplanes from the sky with attendant colossal loss of life and destruction of property; if it’s not the scorched earth policy at Odi, in Bayelsa State, it’s election-related violence, disastrous explosion or destruction oil pipelines, ritual killings, vandalism of public infrastructure, etc.

These negative developments could be helped stupendously, Oladele thinks, by the NIPR. The first assumption, in Oladele’s argument along that line at a recent retreat in Lagos for state chapter’s chairmen and Secretaries of the NIPR, is for every Nigerian in a leadership position to offer service and be responsive to the needs of the Nigeria on the basis of transparency and accountability as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended). The second is that by 2019, by which time it would have been two decades into the Fourth Republic, there ought to be a new Nigerian system of good governance as a basic thrust of a sustainable democratic dispensation. The third assumption is that there’s a need for a people-focused development in the steeling of security and provision of infrastructure.

And for the NIPR, the Fourth Republic springs an auspicious tide with which it has to swim. Oladele calculates that henceforward the NIPR would, through painstaking and meritorious intervention, be seen as one of the major and strategic forces engaged in refurbishing Nigeria’s image as an influential power in both African and world affairs. Besides, the NIPR would endeavour to maximise its law potentials to record some gains by giving itself a well-deserved facelift. To that end, it would embark on prosecution of unrecognised actors on its turf, strive to improve upon recognitions accorded its practitioners, improve upon training services and research, enhance professional market share for its members, particularly in promotion to top management level in public and private sectors and active collaboration with local and international associations, like the Nigerian Institute of Marketing, the International Public Relations Association (IPRA), the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), the United Kingdom, the African Public Relations Association (APRA) etc.

The NIPR is desirous of regaining its firm grip on the oil and gas sector of the Nigerian economy, where, as in the past, it was quite gratifying that its members were top decision-makers and the creative hands behind headline-grabbing annual general meetings (AGMs). Oladele, for one, says not only is it gratifying that a fellow of the NIPR – Major-General Chris Olukolade, is the Director of Information, Nigerian Defence Headquarters, but, as well, an assuring testament concerning the intent of the NIPR to rebrand itself. Equally gratifying is the trend in having state ministries of information and strategy manned by seasoned public relations specialists with proven record of information dissemination and control, crisis management and control, and applied human psychology.

The NIPR, said Oladele, has specialised programmes that encompass effective intelligence gathering and information management that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can buy into – even after it would have indoctrinated would-be Nigerian envoys at its Foreign Service Academy (FSA) in Badagry. Through such a long- term, capital-intensive programme aimed at professionalism, excellence and sanitising the NIPR, Oladele believes that Nigeria’s democratic dispensation would be better for it, in that all the three tiers of government and the press would have been augmented, as a result, and recognised as co-pilots in the advancement of Nigeria’s democratic dispensation.

The NIPR’s confidence that success is certain is freighted on the zeal and commitment being shown by Oladele in running the affairs of the Institute. Indeed, a vote of confidence was cast in him during the Lagos retreat. With almost nil in the body’s purse when Oladele assumed office not so long ago, its activities are fast attracting public goodwill and financial in-flow.

At the Lagos retreat, Oladele told participants from nearly all the states of the federation that the era of the NIPR relying on government aid was over. A nominee at the just concluded National Conference held in Abuja, Oladele said the NIPR under his captaincy would strive to have as many districts in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, for instance, as is the case with some highly visible professional bodies, like the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).

Uzuakpundu is a Lagos-based journalist.

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