BY GRACE EKPOANWAN ACHUM
The Federal Government of Nigeria has been urged to embark on deliberate steps to partner with the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) to plan government policies at the appropriate ministries that have the cumbersome responsibility to conceptualize and draw up appropriate strategies which should begin to change both the micro and macro levels of Nigeria’s global image and the Federal Government must ensure that reasonable resources are made available for the envisaged change.
This call was made by Dr. Chuks Osuji Executive Director and Public Opinion Analyst, Research and Communications Incorporated at the NIPR SAM EPELLE Annual Memorial Lecture held recently at the Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja.
In his paper titled “Effective Communication as a change Agent in Repositioning Nigeria Global Image, Osuji Commended NIPR under the administration of the current leadership, Dr. Rotimi Oladele for his doggedness, and agility in repositioning the institute, Challenging the Federal Government of the day which he said came in with a mantra of change, promising Nigerians a holistic change in most of the Nations’ Political, social and economic behaviours.
He views the policy of change as imposing on all Nigerians an important demand to be part of this crusade of change; Osiji posited that it is imperative on the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations to drive the wheel of this crusade of change more than any other profession.
Commenting on the theme of this year’s memorial lecture as our intriguing one because the pinnacle of the practice of 419 to many countries of the world. Today, there is the unfortunate belief in foreign countries that Nigerian are using technology to the fullest in committing what has come to be known as “Cyber Crime”. At every foreign embassy in Nigeria in Lagos or Abuja, prospective Nigeria Visa seekers are too numerous. In order to succeed, many get themselves involved in the procurement of fogged or fake documents just to beat straight visa procurement conditions.
Apart from those mentioned criminal acts by some Nigerians, there is the corruption damnation. Unfortunately, transparency international has persistently continued to rate Nigeria very poorly among many countries of the world. Few years ago.
Nigeria was rated one hundred and sixty on corruption index. Although the rating has grudgingly appreciated to one hundred and thirty six, it is still very negative indeed.
Nigeria’s internal and external challenge is pure and simples “the image of the country” and since Public Relations and its practice mainly is about Image Making, Image Laundering, Image Sustenance and Reputation Management, it becomes incumbent on the profession and its practitioners to play a special collaborative role with the appropriate government ministers to ensure the success of the crusade of change mantra.
As reputation managers, NIPR has a lot to do in order to redeem Nigeria’s Global image perception.
Evidently, in Chinese, Malaysian, Singapore and, Indonesian prisons, reports of Nigerians awaiting trials or execution, having been found guilty for hard drugs trafficking are quite alarming, in the last few years. Nigerians were known to have exported.
Imports and Exports
In this sector, there is a widespread perception among world leading exporting and importing nations that one could get into Nigeria through her port anything and everything under the nose of Nigerians Custom Officials. They believe that Nigerian exporters and importers have well designed strategies to import or export anything.
Contrabands, arms, ammunition, fake drugs, substandard equipment and merchandises of different categories including expired materials could be imported into Nigeria with ease, making Nigeria a dumping ground.
In many countries in the far East, and Orient, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Burma, Singapore, India and Japan etc.
Manufacturers in those countries have been compromised by Nigerian importers to lower the standard of their products meant for the Nigerian Market, yet those substandard materials, equipment, drugs, etc, are being imported into Nigeria with ease.
Examination malpractices have taken a toll on our education system, cheating, sorting teachers, and lecturers compromised standards for mundane things. They abandoned teachings to pursue commercial enterprises including regular traveling overseas for brisk businesses. Pupils and students were virtually abandoned without accurate and proper teaching. This product of our Educational system became notoriously ill-Equipped at various overseas tertiary institutions. Conversely, many Nigerian parents began in large number to send their children and wards to some foreign countries remain staggering and frightening. Evidently, the ranking of Nigeria universities among other Africa or world universities is not a pleasant one indeed.
However, in the face of all these gloomy pictures, there are still quite a number of institutions both at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels that refused to be compromised. Yet their efforts are not enough to change the Global perception of Nigeria’s Educational standard. Why?
NIPR to partner with this sector to draft policies that could improve and boost the image within and internationally.
In the twilight of colonial administration as the country was itching towards independence, Nigeria’s Global image began to rise positively. This was made manifest in the 50s when Nigerian athlete performed very well in both common wealth games at Cardiff and van cover in Canada. In addition, Hogan kid Bassey won both the common wealth and world feather weight title in boxing, while his fellow country man Dick Tiger achieved another feat in boxing at heavy weight level, infact, the exploits of Nigerian Sports men and women were globally acknowledged.
Nigeria’s profile as a sporting nation reached its Zenith when in 1996 the country won the Olympic title as the first Africa nation to do so.
From then on, it qualified for the world cup competition, and for few years the country registered its name on the Global map of Sports. Unfortunately, in recent years, things have changed incontestably, this decline could be traceable to what goes on in the glass house, the country’s Sports headquarters, where all kinds of corruption, Mismanagement and high level of nepotism has robbed the country of its shining profile. Today no foreign coach of accept a coaching assignment in Nigeria because of high level of corruption which has become so pervasive in the country what can NIPR do to redeem the shining profile?
Apart from the negative global perception of Nigeria in several areas, it appears that of security is more intense.
Admittedly, it has become a world perception that Nigeria is a lawless country with all types of criminal activities. The Global Community points at various criminal activities such as armed banditry, Kidnapping, Car, snatching, rape, sea piracy, swindling and above all, people’s behavior on the road, on the street and in the public places where there is no order or decorum. The Global Community finds it difficult to reconcile the proficiency and professionalism which the Nigerian Police display in foreign engagements with the magnitude of in security in the country. Challenges in crime control and management by security operatives point to the fact the bane of the society is rooted in corruption which has eaten deep into the society fabric and has become pervasive.
There is no doubt that the Nigerian Police, and the security agencies have among themselves those who are determined to sanitize the society and to rid of multiple criminal activities but sometimes they wait for other arms of government to reciprocate their own determination.
Although what appears to be a gloomy picture has been painted of the global perception of Nigeria’s Image, tackling this enormous challenge may be difficult or intractable, but given the knowledge and experiences of PR practitioners in our society today and given the right resources by the Federal Government of the day, such a herculean task would be surmounted.
It is now time for the NIPR and the Federal Government of the day to find the drug and apply their adequately and professionally.
In his welcome address at the Sam Epelle Gold Paper Lecture, the NIPR President, Dr. Rotimi Oladele said the lecture was indeed timely, coming under a government President Muhammadu Buhari who was indeed expected at the lecture as a special guest of honour but could not because of playing host to the visiting German President to Nigeria. Oladele posited that the current administration of change mantra, believes in professionalism. He identified effective communication as goal change immediacy, impact as the feeling of effectiveness, reach as the extent of accessibility; understanding as evidence of assimilation; action/reaction as proof of responsiveness; feedback as a result of reciprocal responsibility, remedial efforts as a signal of mutual collaboration.
Continuous and interactive partnership as the key to sustainability and as well as permeative evaluation as an aggrievement for continuos mutual improvement.
The event which was a threefold event commenced with the induction ceremony, one of the fellows, who is also the chief of staff to the president, and secretary NIPR membership service committee took the centre stage by addressing the inductees on the NIPR Professionalism Ethics and standard best practice of the institute which included the Bye-Laws ethics, code of ethics, code of professional conduct and best standard world practice.
The grand event ended with an Annual Presidential dinner and Award to Corporate Agencies of NIPR best standard practice and citizen Award of Excellence of best PR Practice. In his remarks, the Institute President Dr. Rotimi Oladele said that NIPR is determined to reposition Nigeria for a befitting global reputation, in 2013, and ethical revolution was launched, quackery was tamed and many prospective practitioners were trained via the NIPR Master class and recertification innovations, and this time, the new phase of support to the purposeful leadership of president Muhammadu Buhari to drive the change mantra across sectors of the economy, we owe the government our expertise, experience and human capital to push Nigeria and Nigerian off the Mono-product economy based on oil.
Our first attempt therefore, is to partner with the Federal Ministry or Agriculture and Rural Development to drive a national shift to green love – He enjoins all Nigerians to divert their love for the country from the air to the soil, to cash crops/food crops and to livestock. Let’s have yam month, mango month, cow month, fish month and so on. This means that Agric Education should be free from primary to tertiary institutions. Agro-allied start-up entrepreneurs to have loans with not more than 5% interest and a long enough moratorium of a season in accordance to the kind of crop or livestock of investment.
Major objectives should be woven around food processing and storage. Let foreign investors come in to develop franchises for local manufacturing of equipment, spares, production of consumables, preservatives and packaging materials; agro-allied businesses to be encouraged with barest minimum or no taxes at all.