LIKE old war veterans recalled into the army during on emergency, they came in droves from retirement for one purpose: Re-awakening a rear-comatose profession to which they all belong – Public Relations practice. 

Indeed, from the immediate past National President, Nigeria Institute of Public Relations, Chief Jibade Oyekan, former General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Odu’a Investment Company Limited, Chief Lekan Alabi and Drs. Vikky Ajala and Yinka Lamihun from Babcock University, Ilisha Remo and University of Ibadan in that order the gathering could not have been more colourful. 

Behind the facade of conviviality and Long-time-no-see banters of these old folks, were rueful smiles bemoaning the fate of a profession that makes up the face of others while neglecting its own. 

There is no gainsaying that the institute both at national and state levels has witnessed a slide in fortunes in recent times, such that it has almost lost the allure necessary to attract fresh blood.

But mindful of this scenario the Oyo State chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) at the weekend, took a bold step to rev up the fortunes of the profession through a stakeholder’ forum, which sought to tackle some of the problems bedevilling it and by extension the profession.

It was a real homecoming for these PR gurus as they relived their younger days in the profession.

Oyekan set the tone when he went down memory lane to regale the audience with how people of like minds in similar employment’s in organisations in Ibadan came together to form an association about 40 years ago.

According to him, this association was what later metamophosised into the Oyo State chapter of the NIPR.

He said that with commitment and zeal to succeed the Institute rose to its glorious era and he benefited immensely from this by rising through the ranks to become its national president some years ago. 

The current chairman of Oyo State chapter of the Institute, Mr. Kayode Akinpelu corroborated Oyekan’s story when he said “Oyo State NIPR had its good and glorious times and had produced PR practitioners, who were able to hold their own in the comity of PR practitioners not only in NIPR, but also in FAPRA and IPRA.”

He said the institute could not but seek wisdom from elders who are now in retirement, “so that the present and future generations of PR practitioners in Oyo State could do as well as the older generations.”

According to Akinpelu, the association had gone through various stages of life’s development and it’s at present in its old age.

He noted that “in African tradition, when a man reaches old age, he calls his children together and shares with them the secrets of successful living so that they can carry on after his exit,” adding that such is the essence of the gathering.

Chairman of the occasion, who is also the Executive Chairman, Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State, Chief Adebisi Adesola stressed the need to re-invigorate PR practice in view of rapidly changing socio-political and economic system in the country. 

“Public Relations, going by all what it does, is an indispensable tool of any serious minded organisation because the need for continuous explanation and education on many aspects of an organisation’s operation has never been as serious as it is in recent times.

“This is because an organisation’s survival now depends largely on public approval and this comes as a result of understanding and knowledge of the organisation’s relevance. The turbulence and high rate of changes in our social, political and economic system has made the free flow of information more compelling than ever before, ” Adesola reasoned. 

While defining Public Relations as the deliberate, planned and sustained efforts to establish and maintain understand between an organisation and its publics, Adesola, who retired as head of service and secretary to Oyo State Government, urged practitioners to embrace training and retraining so as to cope with various challenges of the profession engendered by the globalisation.

He said public relations practitioners should avail themselves of opportunities offered by higher institutions of learning to acquire new ideas of skills and further up-date their knowledge in the profession and information communication technologies. 

The BCOs chairman urged the state chapter of the institute to en-liven its monthly meeting by making it more educative and attractive to members and potential members so that they would find it irresistible to attend at all times. 

According to him, this can be done through organised lectures, talks, clinic or problem solving sessions, adding that practitioners in different areas of professional practice can also be attracted from within the fold to deliver lectures on regular basis.

“I charge the elders and veterans as well as all those, who had made their marks in public relations practice not to sit on the fence but to continue to be in the vanguard of efforts at consolidating the past gains. You still have a great role to play in giving necessary visionary leadership, advice and sustained encouragement to younger ones and new comers.

“They still need you as mentors or role models. Let the young ones continue to see you beside and behind them always. New members still need your wealth of experience and great wisdom,” he admonished. 

While admitting that economic realities in the country has made it compelling for professionals to look inwards in face of high rates of unemployment and poor remuneration, which ultimately dwindles the financial fortunes of the institute, Adesola said, the institute, should shrewd investment.

“There is great need for more sacrifice, discipline, strong will, commitment and sustained interest on the part of all and sundry as well as public relations practitioners to survive in the present economic situation.

“You can also look for alternative or legitimate means to complement your monthly salary through investment in stocks or by engaging in small businesses. These would make you to be financially empowered to take care of your personal and association’s need,” Adesola said. 

He also admonished the association to start thinking of befitting image house (Public Relations Centre) where practitioners can interact informally in a relaxed atmosphere, while it also serves as an income-generating centre for the institute. 

Earlier, the State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaja Risikat Oyebimpe, had enjoined practitioners to uphold the ethics of the profession and hold firmly to the noble objectives of the institute. 

She said the stakeholders forum should be continuous adding that “it is only when we have cross fertilisation of ideas and experiences that we can fashion a way of progress, understanding and development amongst ourselves.”

The commissioner noted that PR practitioners as image builders; bridge builders and frontline five fighters of the institutions that pay for their services, are important gatekeeper whose roles must be fulfilled with integrity and genuine professionalism. 

At the end of deliberation, the Institute resolved as follows: 

· That there was need to rejuvenate NIPR in Oyo State

· That members should strive at professionalism and excellence, which is the hallmark of public relations.

· That members should endeavour to obtain relevant educational qualification(s) that will equip the adequately for the practice of the profession.

· That today’s attendance should be sustained at subsequent monthly meeting and other events through constant contact with members through text messages, calls and radio, television, e-mail and newspapers’ publication and announcements

· That activities of the Institutes should be well publicised through campaigns in the media

· That members should strive to be up to date financially

· That the State Chapter should step up activities by organising lectures, awards, seminars and workshops

· That the Institute should play prominent role in tackling national issues through reactions and opinion in the media

· That meeting should be involving and interactive to give young, upcoming practitioners a sense of belonging

· That the State Chapter assumes full responsibility in the recruitment of PR Practitioners by organisations in the State through the invocation of relevant legislations

* Source: The Guardian


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