The race to elect a new governing council for the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) has begun. The incumbent President of the Institute, Professor Ikechukwu Nwosu; former Vice-President of the Institute during Bobo Brown’s regime, Auwal Haruna; Ben Ahiante, former Chairman of the Abuja Chapter of the Institute; and Alhaji, Yusuf Mohammed, two-time Chapter Chairman, Kaduna and former government nominee in the NIPR Council during the Jibade Oyekan regime, are top contenders for the presidency of NIPR, if elected to Council.

This will be the highpoint of the forth-coming annual general meeting (AGM) and national conference of the institute scheduled for Lafia, Nasarawa State between November 7 and 10, 2007. The theme of the conference is: “Public relations, Nation Reforms and Sustainable Development”.

By the NIPR code and bye-law, the 23-man Council of NIPR comprises 17 elected and five government nominees. After the composition of this council, electoral college would be conducted amongst all the 23 Council members to determine the President of the Institute, a position that so far has the four afore mentioned Fellows of the Institute mentioned as contenders, according to THISDAY findings.

So far, various state chapters are already holding shadow elections to present their aspirants to the national council elections.

This has been the practice of the chapters, though; it does not guarantee that victors at the shadow elections would win their states’ seat at national elections.

There have been occasions in the past where people lost state shadow elections, and yet emerged state’s representative in the Council ahead of the victors at the chapter elections. This is because the national elections are done by all members of the Institute where cognizance is not given to who is representing which State. All aspirants presented at the elections are voted for based on the impression the voters have of them.

To this end, Lagos Chapter held its shadow elections last week with immediate-past Chairman of the Chapter, Yomi Badejo-Okusanya having 41 votes; Rotimi Oladele, also a former Chairman of the Chapter and former Managing Director, Tribune Newspapers had 35 votes; a former Vice-Chairman of the Chapter, Mrs. Agnes Shobajo came third with 30 votes; Simeon Adelabu, former Public Relations Executive of the Chapter got 28 votes; while Kunle Oshodi-Glover, former national Council member pulled 4 votes. THISDAY checks revealed that the incumbent Chapter Chairman, Mrs Nkechi Ali-Balogun, who was strategically position herself for the next National Council, could not vie for the Chapter shadow elections because members called her attention to the NIPR law that makes it mandatory for any incumbent Chairman of any Chapter to resign his/her position at the Chapter before vying for a National Council position.

Another build up to the election was the re-emergence of the PR for PR Group anchored by Rotimi Oladele, who maintained that the Forum was not revived for positioning towards the forth-coming elections, but as an interest group focusing on improving the practice of PR in the country by reviving PR practice in Nigeria. The Group comprising of some senior practitioners and some other young ones, at a meeting in Lagos on October 1, 2007 set up sub-committees to put together a working document for the next Council of the Institute. 

It would be recalled that NIPR has been enmeshed in series of controversies in recent times the height of these controversies was the last election in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State that produced Professor Nwosu, at a properly constituted AGM, though, some Chapters boycotted. During the milieu, the ministry of information ordered the stoppage of annual subvention given to the Institute, alongside APCON, another regulatory body supervised by the ministry. The move the government says is to make them private sector driven and untie them from the apron of government. APCON is the regulatory body in charge of advertising profession in Nigeria established by Advertising Practitioners Act 55 of 1988, while NIPR was established under Decree 16 of 1990 (now an Act of National Assembly) regulates the practice of public relations in the country. They are both until recent under the supervision of the federal ministry of information, as a parastatal of government.

THISDAY reliably gathered that, though the information ministry was yet to inform the two former parastatals of government, a memo has already been sent to the bodies by the federal budget office.

Despite this situation, NIPR during Nwosu’s tenure was run debt free, with flamboyant expenses cut to the barest minimum. THISDAY gathered that Nwosu had never attended any NIPR event by air, in other to manage meager income occasioned by the subvention withdrawal. Moneys for membership forms, induction for corporate members and other sources have been mainstay of NIPR. During the present regime five induction ceremonies were held for new member times, with October 15, 2007 fixed as the date for another induction ceremony. Up till date, NIPR is said not to be owing salaries, except the staff increment that has not been done for sometime.

Source: Thisday October 8, 2007

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