There is a purpose for the emergence of every profession in any given society and environment. So also is the public relations practice in Nigeria, which started before the country’s independence. According to Fassy Yusuf, (2000) public relations practice commenced in the country in the early 1940s as a result of World War II. The country, which was then under the British colony, participated in the execution of the war. Knowing the importance of information to Nigerians on happenings in the war front, the government created a Special Information Centre for that purpose. With this, there was better understanding between the colonialists and the colonised Nigerians, especially, when the citizenry realised the necessity of their independence. The centre later metamorphosed into the Public Relations Department in 1944, when Nigerians were employed to manage it for better and further information dissemination.
In the private sector, the first company to establish a public relations department was the United African Company, popularly known as UAC. The unit was known in 1949 as Information Department. The Nigerian Railways Corporation, a government parastatal, also established its own unit in 1956 where Dr. Sam Opelle served as the first public relations officer. The Shell Petroleum Development Company, then BP, created its own outfit in 1969.
It was the effort of people like Sam Opelle, Chief Olu Holloway, Alhaji Ade Thani, Adewale Fashanu and Mr. Malafa that the first umbrella organisation of public relations practitioners was established in1963, known as Public Relations Association of Nigeria (PRAN). The association was renamed Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) in 1969. It was later legally empowered by the Decree 16 of 1990. The decree made NIPR a chartered body and empowered to determine what standards of knowledge and skills are to be attained by all persons seeking to become registered members of the PR profession. The decree was signed through the efforts of past presidents of the institute, which include Chief Alex Akinyele, Chief Bob Ogbuagu, Mr. Mike Okereke and Alhaji Sabo Mohammed.
The first known affiliate of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations is the Public Relations Consultancy Association (PRCAN), which according to Cajetan Otuekere-Ubani, was established and inaugurated in 1984 by Major General Tunde Idiagbon, the then Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters in General Buhari’s administration. Mr. Toye Ogunmorin was its first president with four consultancy firms as its pioneer members. They are Bloomel Public Relations Practitioners, Progan Promotions, Good Contact Public Relations Services and Philips, Johnson and Associates.
Some of its aims and objectives are to raise and maintain standards in the practice of the profession; and to provide facilities for government, public bodies, professional associations, industrial concerns, financial institutions, social, cultural and religious organisations. It also aims to improve the relationship of public relations professionals with employers and clients, with government and its agencies, with communications media and their agencies.
Some names have been mentioned of those personalities who are the doyens of public relations consultancy in Nigeria. Festus Akande confirmed that consultancy commenced in the late sixties and early seventies with the late Ebun Adesioye, Dr. Clarkson Majomi, Chief Dotun Okubajo, Mr. Olu Ademulegu, Otunba Kunle Ojora and Peter Hospdales as the doyens in the practice. He added that all these practitioners were practising their consultancy service individually with no merger between them.
It is said that as the human society becomes more complex and diversified, the professions of man become more specialised. In most developed societies, there are alliances of people of specialised occupation and professions coming together to form associations for the protection of such concerns. Some emerge from already existing unions as affiliates. For instance the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) is another compartmentalisation with other affiliates like Correspondents Chapel, Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN), Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), etc. In fact, a further scrutiny reveals that the NUJ itself, according to some quarters, is just one of those organisations under the umbrella of Nigeria Press Organisation which includes the Nigerian Guild of Editors and Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria. The same thing applies to advertising where the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) regulates the practice of the profession with bodies like Association of Advertising Practitioners of Nigeria (AAPN) and Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN) carrying out their activities under the umbrella of APCON.
The Nigerian Institute of Public Relations too witnessed the same situation where affiliates like the Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN), and Association of Corporate Affairs Managers in Banks (ACAMB), emerged in 1996 and as the case with the latter has the objective of evolving and implementing strategies to improve and sustain a good image for the nation’s banking industry.
One notable researcher who has successfully identified the problems of financial public relations in reference to the distress in the banking sector is Abubakar Alhassan who states that the idea behind the emergence of ACAMB was first mooted by the corporate affairs managers at the 1992 Bank Directors Seminar organised by Financial Institute Training Center in Abuja. Subsequently, discussions were made informally among some of the Banks’ Public Relations managers in Lagos. He continued that the machinery for formal discussion of the idea was set in motion after a media management seminar held at Badagry also in Lagos in 1996 at which suggestion for the formation of the body was extensively discussed. Subsequently, a series of meeting were held at Eko Hotel, Lagos, during which the PR managers of banks agreed to have an association. They set out the association’s aims and objectives and also laid conditions for membership.
Membership of the association is open to all Heads of PR in the banking sub-sector. In addition, all members of the association must have been duly registered with the NIPR as required by decree 16 of 1990. A member who ceases to be a PR manager in the banking industry, has automatically relinquishes the right to membership but may be considered for Associate membership. There is also the Code of Conduct for membership, which states, among others, that erring members whose acts contravene any rule or regulation of the association will be reprimanded.
The first Annual General Assembly of ACAMB was held in September 1996, during which elections were held into offices of the association’s Executive Committee. The Executives were sworn in during the Committee’s inauguration on 3rd December, 1996. Those sworn in were Kabir Dangogo,as President; Tunde Thomas, Vice President; Waheed Olagunju, Secretary General; Aduke Gomez (Ms), Financial Secretary; Steve Osuji, Publicity Secretary; and Emeka Adio,as Assistant Secretary General; and five EX-officio members are Abubakar Minjibir, Tony Ede, Toyin Abayomi-Banjo, Gbade A. Zanda and Ogie Eboigbe.
Since every serious body must have a legal framework, which is to guide it in its operation, ACAMB has its constitution and Code of Conduct. As a non-profit making body established to foster interaction among PR managers of the banking sub-sector and advise the leadership of the sub-sector on the PR implications of policies and development, the association is registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Decree of 1990.
Some of the objectives of the association include to evolve and implement strategies to improve and sustain a good image for the nation’s banking industry; educate the public on relevant banking laws and policies; represent the industry as a group on public relations matters; promote and protect the interest of the banking industry as well as carrying out public enlightenment campaigns on behalf of the industry. It is also intended to promote continuous public confidence and trust in the nation’s banking industry and to promote facilities for training the members of the association on banking practice and other related matters.
CODE OF ETHICS OF NIPR
Professionals in Nigeria belong not only to some international professional bodies optionally, they also belong compulsorily to the local professional body known as the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), one of the few in the world backed by a state statutory instrument in Decree 16 of 1990. The institute’s codes of practice has 12 articles which include the following:
Every member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations shall:
a. respect the moral principles of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” and the freedoms entrenched in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the performance of his/her own duties;
b. recognise that each person has the right to reach his own judgement by himself;
c. respect the right of parties in a dispute to explain their respective points of view;
d. encourage the free circulation of public information and preserve the integrity of channels of communication;
e. put trust and honesty of purpose before all other considerations;
f. safeguard the confidences of his present/previous employers or clients;
g. represent interests which are not in conflict;
h. refuse to enter into any agreement which requires the attainment of certain results before the payment of professional fees;
i. protect the professional reputation or practice of another member, but make it his duty to report unethical behaviour on the part of any member of the institute;
j. not seek to displace any other member with his employer or client, except with the mutual agreement of all the parties concerned;
k. Not operate any front organisation;
l. Co-operate with any other members in upholding and enforcing this code.
These articles are a superb adaptation of some international codes and the British codes of ethics to suit the Nigerian institution. The extra-ordinary general meeting of the institute held at the Bristol Hotel in Lagos on January 30, 1981 approved the Nigerian codes.
This information is an excerpt from a book on Financial Public Relations(2001)www.yashuaib.com/fpr/book.htm