A Communique of the 2019 Annual National Conference of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations on ‘Optimizing Public Relations Strategies for National Cohesion’ –held on Thursday 2nd May, 2019 at the International Conference Centre, Area 10, Garki, Abuja, FCT.

The purpose of the annual national conference was to address a critical issue that has become a clog in the wheel of the nation’s steady and sustainable progress; to review and reconsider what has gone wrong and how we got to this point of disconnection as a nation; to lend professional counsel on efforts towards restoring the trajectory of peaceful co-existence in Nigeria; and to re-evaluate negative impact of relationship breakdown occasioned by absolute erosion of once revered cultural values as one of the problems threatening the unity of the nation; etc.

Other Objectives:
To appraise and evaluate the practice of public relations among members in the out-going year according to NIPR calendar.

To train and educate members on contemporary strategies and methodologies that will enhance PR practice among members.

To critically analyze PR issues in Nigeria’s polity and seek for ways of addressing such.

To receive reports of activities of the Governing Council and the National Secretariat as well as financial report of the year in line with the NIPR Act.

In laying the tone for the Conference, the Chairman of Council and President of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Mallam Mukhtar Sirajo underscored NIPR commitment to its role in bridging national cohesion. According to him, NIPR as the sole body entrusted with the responsibility of managing reputation, promoting friendship, deepening relationship, and regulating activities of Public Relations in the country, is poised to once more lend its professional competence on efforts towards restoring the trajectory of peaceful co-existence in Nigeria. He further noted that no entity grows or develops in disunity. ‘Let’s go back to our unique culture of love for one another, strong bond of brotherhood that knows no tribe or religion, habit of hospitality that does not emphasize state of origin, and let’s embrace tolerance as an option for co-existence’, he said.

The lead paper presenter, Bishop Matthew Kuka, stated that the problem with Nigeria is inability to manage capacity. He observed that we, as Nigerians are in trouble because we live in a country where people are only comfortable appointing their brothers, sisters, nephews, cousins etc, to work as special assistants or commissioners over much brighter Nigerians with more appropriate capacity. He also decried the current state of Nigerian Universities, a supposed citadel of unity, now turned to ‘Provincial Enclave of Bigotry’.

In his opening remark, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, represented by Charles Ojugbana, Director Documentation and Publication in the Ministry, challenged the institute to work very hard to eliminate quacks in the practice of public relations profession in Nigeria.

Arising from papers presented and discussions at the conference the following observations were made; Nigeria is a poor country due to bureaucratization of institutions and government functions. Education and capacity building are fundamental to building national cohesion
One of the key challenges of Nigeria’s development and cohesion is the absence of intellectual and professional counsel. There exists a wide delusion of constitutional provisions on the rights and privileges of Nigerians. There is increasing fragmentation of the Nigerian polity along ethnic, religious and tribal lines. Appointment of non-professionals and quacks in frontline public relations positions in Ministries, departments and Agencies.

Non adherence to the professional ethics and code of conduct of public relations in Nigeria,
The reign of mediocrity in key sectors of Nigeria economy, political and social landscapes fueling disunity was observed NIPR facing enormous challenge of owning and discharging its constitutional mandate as a result of increasing number of quacks was noted.

Poor understanding of the professional role of Public Relations by MDAs is a major setback in NIPR contribution to building national cohesion. There is systemic resistance in appointment of certified PR professionals to man strategic PR and Communication functions of MDAs.
Increasing focus of elected and appointed leaders on preferred ethnic and religious groups and Lack of political-will in policy implementation is negatively fueling disunity among Nigerians.

Reports on State of cohesion in Nigeria should be published annually, widely disseminated and effectively utilized by relevant institutions for sustained cohesion and unity of the country.
The government should initiate and implement effective national cohesion monitoring framework and indicators – in short, medium and long term.
Government and institutions alike should prioritize capacity building which is imperative for building and sustaining national cohesion.

The process of hiring and appointing leaders in MDAs should be reviewed to make room for multi-talented and non-tribalized administrators to manage institutions in Nigeria.
To make Nigeria functional again, capacity building must be fed Bottom-Up for optimum benefits in all sectors of the economy.

Government and private organizations should appoint only certified professionals in managing public relations, communication and brand building services.

NIPR must step up processes to eradicate quacks in public relations practice in Nigeria.
NIPR Leadership should intensify discussion with Head of Service of the federation for proper placement of NIPR professional Diploma holders and certified professional in Civil Service schemes.

Elected and appointed political officials should engage the services of NIPR certified professionals to guide national narratives.

Government should collaborate with NIPR on every issue concerning the National reputation, sustenance of the Nigeria brand, communication across borders and overall decision on the Nigerian Brand.

Ministry of Information should mandate all MDAs to create a space for Certified PR Professionals in line with the decision of the national council on information formulated three years ago.

The NIPR expresses her appreciation and gratitude to the institute presiding Minister and Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; our lead paper presenter, Bishop Matthew Kuka, the panelists and discussants for taking out time to share their experiences and also reinvent this conversation for revitalization of NIPR promises to Nigeria. We also thank our vibrant participants for their invaluable contributions.

Eric Adile Iroajugh
For Communique Committee

Mukthtar Sirajo
President NIPR