PR consultants form lobby group against marginalisation
Public relations practitioners in Nigeria have now resolved to speak up against the marginalisation of its members by government. The experts are insisting that government at all level must stop appointing non PR professionals for government PR and communication jobs at the expense of the trained and recognised experts.
This is one of the key fallouts from the 3rd Lagos Stakeholders conference organized by Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) in Lagos last Thursday. The aggrieved executives have now agreed to form a pressure group made up of operators to lobby a better appreciation of the PR profession by government.
The theme of the conference which was held at the MUSON Centre in Lagos was ‘communication, reputation and sustainable foreign direct investment in Nigeria’. And participants at the conference, drawn from different sectors of the economy including manufacturing, maritime, Telco etc, stressed that Nigeria must earn it reputation before it can communicate it.
They also insisted that for Nigeria’s reputation to be properly communicated, professional public relations persons should be put in charge of communications and also made a part of the decision making structure, adding that this was a major step towards attracting foreign investments and boosting domestic tourism.
Some of those who have volunteered to be part of the lobby group are Yomi Badejo-Okusanya CEO, CMC Connect, Emeka Opara, Director, Corporate Communications and CSR at Airtel Nigeria, and Nnameka Maduegbuna, Chairman/CEO C&F Porter Novelli.
According to Badejo-Okusanya the group will work to ensure that practitioners are accorded their rightful place and that government communications duties are given to PR experts and not journalists like it as always been the case.
Emeka Opara writing in a recent opinion was more emotional about the issue. “Where are the PR practitioners of Nigeria? Why are they not visible? Why are they not talking? Why are they not writing? Why are journalists, not PR professionals, still being considered for clearly public relations or communications assignments? Why are journalists only driving the Federal Government’s communications agenda? Why is the government losing the narrative to the opposition and anti-change elements?”
Indeed, since the advent of democracy in 1999 government communications job have mainly been reserved for journalists. For instance Remi OYo was Obasanjo Senior Special Adviser on Media, Segun Adeniyi, former Thisday Editor got the job when Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua became President. Then it was the turn of Reuben Abati, former Guardian Editorial Chairman during Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure and now under Mohammadu Buhari, two journalists, Shehu Garba and Femi Adeshina are in charge of communication.
The PR executives have promised to hold a meeting to iron out the modalities for forming the pressure group.