Being the text of an inaugural address by the newly elected president, Public Relations Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (PRCAN) Israel Jaiye Opayemi at the 2019 annual general meeting of the association in Lagos on Friday 6, September 2019
Dear Professional Colleagues,
I thank you all my distinguished colleagues on behalf of the newly elected leadership of our esteemed professional association, the Public Relations Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (PRCAN) for entrusting us with the sacred responsibility of leading this great professional association. We will justify the confidence you have reposed in us by affirming our elections today.
My heart is heavy on this occasion however in view of the two recent but unfortunate developments touching on our nation and the nation brand – Nigeria. On Thursday 22 August 2019, we woke up to the sad news that the FBI had obtained a grand jury indictment of 77 Nigerians for alleged involvement in some mind-boggling online fraud schemes. Just before we could recover from that national embarrassment, were again greeted with the sad news from South Africa where property worth millions of dollars belonging to Nigerians were said to have been damaged by angry South Africans in one of the worst xenophobic attacks ever known or seen in recent history. It is comforting to know from the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa that no Nigerian was actually killed contrary to the volley of fake news flying around the social media. Our prayers are with all those who have lost their property in the despicable attacks in South Africa and back home here in Nigeria.
Let us talk about the FBI investigation for a moment and its wider implications for our nation brand. The truth is, a narrative has been created about us as Nigerians. A wrong perception with its attendant generalisation has also been created. Not a few Nigerians have cancelled their planned trips to the United States for fear of the horrible treatment they will be subjected to by the United States Immigration. The PRCAN leadership takes the view that rather than engage in the needless game of blaming the government for the character of its response to this issue, we on this occasion offer the professional assistance of our member-firms to the Federal Government at a time like this. In times like this, governments the world over would rely on the professional advice and expertise of practitioners who are not in any short supply within the Nigerian Public Relations community to help craft a response strategy and a campaign plan to manage the narrative and shape the perception. This has not been the case here. The situation at hand does not call for hasty rebuttal press releases. This is not a time for too many government officials to be speaking on this vexatious subject. This requires a strategy! This is what our members can offer the Nigerian government at a time like this. We missed the timing to tell the story of the rare exceptionalism of our people, but we must never miss this opportunity.
PRCAN hereby calls on President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, that now is that time and the opportunity to tell the Nigerian story. It is incumbent on us to tell the world, that the reality of our case is that, it is #NotAllOfUs. Not all of us are fraudsters. This is the country of origin of Aliko Dangote, Dr. Mike Adenuga, Femi Otedola, Wale Tinubu, Anthony Joshua, Professor Wole Soyinka and Chimamanda Adichie. Let us remind the world that the immortal Chinua Achebe was from amongst us. This is the time to remind the world that this is the country of Ayodeji Balogun aka Whizkid and Innocent Idibia aka Tuface Idibia. This is the time to tell the world that this is the land that produced legendary Olu Jacobs and Pete Edochie. Never must the world forget that Genevieve Nnaji and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde of Nollywood; Alex Iwobi of Everton, Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester City, Victor Osimhem of Lille are from this great nation. Let us remind them that this is the country of origin of Texas-based Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, who shocked the world with a rare surgical feat by operating on an unborn child who had tumour right from the womb. Dr. Olutoye removed the tumour, restored the foestus back to the mother’s womb. He exemplifies the story of our exceptionalism.
The State of Public Relations Practice
As you are aware, the Public Relations profession in Nigeria has sadly become a ‘Banana Republic’, a sector of anything goes and an all-comers corner. Unlike Medicine, Law and Accounting and even Advertising, ours is a profession in which practically just anybody, and I mean anybody can wake up and call himself or herself a “PR Consultant”. Let it be known, Public Relations is a profession regulated by an extant law in the form of the NIPR Decree 16 of 1990 (now an Act of the Parliament). We will work hand in hand with the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) to get that law amended, strengthen the sanctions for infringement and work with the Office of the Inspector General of Police to enforce that law. For those practising public relations illegally in Nigeria, let me assure you on behalf of the new PRCAN leadership, your days are numbered. It is for this cause, that I threw my hat into the ring to be the President of this great professional body. We come humbly to the stage with the assets of courage, conviction, connection, exposure, and, more importantly, a readiness to tap into the wealth of experience of our esteemed members to deliver what we promised – BETTER BUSINESS. We are convinced we can together build a BETTER BUSINESS for PRCAN member-firms anchored on these seven pillars:
- Clearer Identity
- Stronger Legislation
- Stricter Enforcement
- Increased Revenue
- Better Value
- Fair Trade and
- Professional Dignity
In closing, let me publicly reiterate a promise I once made which has now become the collective resolve of our new leadership. It is a resolve that we will be standing on the shoulders of giants and be leaning on the chest of the icons of our profession. We will be drinking from the table of Mazi Mike Okereke, Mr. Nn’emeka Maduegbuna, Mr. Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, our own Amazon Mrs. Nkechi Ali-Balogun, our other past presidents Dr. Phil Osagie, Mr. Chido Nwakanma, and the outgoing president Mr. John Ehiguese as well as many of you here seated today who have made great contributions to the growth and development of this noble profession.
My task is to lead the battles ahead with a courageous heart. I will work with members of our new Executive Council towards delivering BETTER BUSINESS for all. I put my calling on the line.
Let’s build a BETTER BUSINESS together!
Israel Jaiye Opayemi
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