A Keynote Address at the Inauguration of the New Governing Council of NIPR on June 5, 2008)
By John Ogar Odey
It is with great delight and due sense of fulfillment that I welcome you all to the inauguration of the newly constituted Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR). Today’s event is the outcome of the hard work and transparency in the recently concluded elections of the 2007 Lafia Convention.
Let me start by congratulating all the 22 newly elected and appointed members of this Council. I will also take the advantage of this opportunity to congratulate the President, Prof. Ike Nwosu on his re-election for a second term.
It would be recalled that NIPR was established by the Federal Ministry of Information in 1963 as Public Relations Association of Nigeria under the inspiration of the late Dr. Sam Epelle, who was then the Federal Director of Information. It was a body set up to assist the Ministry in the discharge of its statutory responsibilities.
This new body under the Ministry later grew to become the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR). It became chartered in 1990 through Decree No 16, 1990, now an Act of the National Assembly. This was at the instance of one of my predecessors, the then Hon. Minister of Information, Chief Alex Akinyele. By the Act setting up the Institute, this Council has a statutory role to play in the regulation of Public Relations practice in Nigeria in all ramifications.
However, it has been observed that the Institute has for sometime now lost its zeal and focus. It has not really actualized its mandate in terms of its role in government viz a viz the role of the Federal Ministry of Information. This august body is supposed to be a resource base in the Ministry’s stride to position itself in the governance of this great country.
Nevertheless I am glad to note that the NIPR Fellows and Senior Members Forum which is an initiative to provide focus, guidance and a think-tank of sorts for the NIPR, is giving a thought to this situation with a view to reversing the trend.
I believe that this new Governing Council waiting to be inaugurated will pick up the statutory roles and expectations and run with them to achieve our desired goals and objectives in the Information and Communication Sector in terms of its contribution to national development.
Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a lot that the Public Relations practitioners as individuals and as a professional body under the NIPR can do to turn things around for good in this country. Democracy all over the world today strive with Public Relations internally and externally to build confidence. Our case can not be an exception. We as a nation have so many challenges which can be tackled positively through well packaged Public Relations strategies. For instance, how can this Council make Nigerians and citizens of other countries think Nigeria, believe in Nigeria and buy Nigeria?
What professional solutions do you have to the Niger Delta issue? How will you use Public Relations to attract the goodwill of prospective foreign investors to Nigeria with a view to generating more jobs for Nigerians, especially our restive youths? How will you as council members use the Institute to create and sustain a two-way communication process with in-built feedback mechanism that would advise and facilitate government’s articulation and modification of its policies and programmes.
As a professional body, how can you key-in to this Administration’s Seven Point Agenda, which include Power, Energy, Food security, Wealth creation, Transport sector, Land Reforms, Security and Education to make Nigeria one of the 20 top nations of the world by the year 2020 – That is making 20 – 2020 realizable for all Nigerians? How will you use Public Relations to ensure that the rule of law is entrenched and sustained in Nigeria in order to reach a situation where justice and peace reign to engender national development.
My dear Council members, I am also advocating that during your tenure, Public Relations will achieve the highest point in professionalism and excellence. There is the need to check the use of Public Relations in the negative sense in an effort to rid our nation of all forms of corruption. This is because many people engage in corrupt practices all in the name of PR. The Institute as a body must rid itself of quacks who masquerade as Public Relations practitioners.
This new Council will achieve these and much more if your members maintain and sustain the standard for which the profession has been known in the past.
NIPR as a body must be alive to its responsibilities. It must be committed to the reason of its existence. It should have greater visibility, enhanced respectability, commitment to responsible practice, integrity and credibility. This will also go a long way to restoring and re-shaping positively, public perception of the institute and its practitioners.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, while NIPR tries to achieve its goals for the overall growth and enhancement of the Public Relations profession, it will be pertinent to look inwards to throw more light to those dark spots that tend to portray the industry in bad light.
The Ministry is fully aware of the past infighting and the struggle for leadership that nearly led to the extinction of the Institute. I am equally aware that the Institute is currently facing such problems as fractionalizations, politicization of issues, lack of compromise, arbitrariness and lack of will to discipline erring members. These are serious issues that NIPR must be willing and ready to confront and wield the big stick where necessary, no matter who is involved.
The President and his Governing Council must therefore do a thorough soul searching exercise, and reach out to all aggrieved members so that the institute will become one big family once again.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am confident that this new council will rise up to these challenges victoriously. I say this because, your 2007 annual General Public Relations Conference which held in Lafia in November last year had as its theme “Public Relations, National Reforms and Good Governance”.
On our part, the Ministry, under my leadership will continue to assist and encourage the healthy growth of Public Relations as a worthy profession for the overall development of Nigeria our great nation.
I wish you a very successful tenure.
It is my honour and privilege to hereby inaugurate this newly constituted NIPR Council.
God bless you indeed.
John Odey is Hon. Minister of Information and Communications
Federal Republic of Nigeria