(By Ihenyi Ezinwo) – The worsening security situation and the increasing levels of suspicion among Nigerians on tribal and religious lines have been attributed to lack of equity and fairness in the way and manner the affairs of the country have been administered. This was the position of the President of the Mallam Mukhtar Sirajo, FNIPR, President and Chairman of the NIPR Council of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations at the 2021 Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations on Thursday at the Nigerian Bar Association hall in Port Harcourt.
The Chairman of Governing Council of NIPR, noted that the Institute was unhappy with the growing insecurity in Nigeria .
” It has never been like this until now; as we enjoyed living without fear and looked at one another as brothers and sisters. We related freely with one another without discrimination based on tribe and religion. We had a better country than we have today. Every one saw each other as one but the situation has changed.
“ We are retrogressing because certain elements that are supposed to be in place – equity and fairness are not in place. We need communication to resolve issues: all of us are devils as long as we don’t come together to fix this country.
“Nigerians must be educated that no one chose where he is born, and that it is our leaders who are ones sowing the seed of discord, especially when they get short end of the stick” Mallam Sirajo, further declared, while calling on public relations professionals to deploy their skills in relationship and reputation building to address to rebuild the lost confidence in one another and in the country.
In his opening address, the chairman of the occasion, Eze Ukpata, King Felix Otuwarikpo, Regent, Eze Epkeye Logbo and Chairman, Ahoada- East Council of Traditional Rulers, observed that insecurity has become a serious challenge that is affecting all Nigerians, and lauded the NIPR for taking the bold step of proffering solutions to the plague.
The royal father charged members of the NIPR to see themselves as ambassadors of the Institute, adding that their dedication to the ethics of the profession and their performance in the society will help to boost the reputation of the institute.
He suggested to the President of NIPR to consider giving waivers to members of the Institute who are 70 years and above on the payment of annual dues, and promised to take up the payments for members in that category in the Rivers State chapter from January 1, 2022.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Rivers State chapter of NIPR, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim observed that the relationship between the Rivers State government and the chapter has blossomed during the administration of Governor Nyesom Wike.
Pastor Nsirim, who is also the Commissioner for Information and Communications in Rivers State, recalled how the governor has been supportive in the programmes of NIPR, a response which he said could have only come from a visionary leader.
He said the Institute chose the theme as its own way of contributing to national discourse, and called on participants to make their contributions at the appropriate time to enable the Institute produce a blueprint that would guide the re-engineering of national security for sustainable development.
Also speaking, the Council Member representing Rivers State chapter of NIPR, Mr. Oseloka Samuel recalled that NIPR was established in 1963, and was then known as Public Relations Association of Nigeria. According to him, the Institute became Chartered in 1990 via Decree 16, and has since 1989 become an Act of the National Assembly.
The council member, who noted that the Institute has achieved maturity, explained that NIPR has been regulating the training and retraining of Public Relations professionals, and that members of the Institute have become experts in communicating polices and processes of corporations and governments, and promoting goodwill.
Since its founding, he said, the NIPR has produced 14 National Presidents, with the current president, Malam Sirajo being number 14, and that out of the 17 elected members of Council, the Rivers State chapter has always produced a council member. He also pointed out that, out of the 36 states producing the president, Rivers State has produced 3 out of the 14, including the founding president, Sam Epelle.
In his own address at the occasion, the Governor of Rivers State, Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, described the theme of the conference as apt, adding that it could not have come at a better time in view of the hydra-headed and fragile security situation in Nigeria.
Wike, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, commended NIPR for ensuring high standards in the practice of Public Relations in Nigeria.
“ Nigeria used to be giant of Africa and contributed to peace and development in the sub-region of Africa. Our soldiers also participated in peace building missions globally. At the time, our reputation and economy soured, but today the situation has changed drastically. We are facing dare socio-economic and security challenges in the country.
“ It is difficult to manage reputation in the kind of situation that is confronting Nigeria because there is no reputation to manage’, he posited, lamenting that, though security of lives and property remained the primary responsibility of government, that the problem is becoming more complicated and worrisome, especially with bandits mustering the courage and successfully entering the Nigerian Defense Academy to abduct and kill a senior military officer, and non of the terrorists was apprehended.
Governor Wike said that the NIPR has a crucial role to play in terms of letting Nigerians understand the imperatives of changing the trajectory for survival, even as he harped on the need for reputation managers and other concerned citizens to call on government and other stakeholders to begin to act in ways and manners that will help to restore Nigeria’s battered image.
In his paper on : ‘Nigeria’s Security Situation: A factor in Reputation and National Development,’ Dr. Ike Neliaku, Fnipr, Dr. Ike Neliaku, further explained that, “the rising insecurity situation in Nigeria has negatively impacted on the welfare of the citizens in the last 12 years, and that it will continue to influence corporate reputation and the course of national development until deliberate actions are taken to check the drift into anarchy in country.
The guest lecturer regretted that the country was facing the challenge of insecurity on several fronts, stressing that no region or religion is marginalized on the matter of insecurity in Nigeria, with the citizens losing confidence in security agencies, and some resorting to self-help.
On the way forward , the guest lecturer recommended that everybody citizen sees security as his business because the security agencies are too few and cannot cope with the emergent challenges.
He also recommended that leadership should begin from the home to mold future leaders, while emphasizing the imperative of every citizen being proactive to nip grievances in the bud before they boil into violent crises.
At the end of the proceeding to elect new executive council members of the Rivers State chapter of NIPR the following officers emerged. They include Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, Chairman;
Dr. Rita Inoma-Abbey; Vice Chairman; Akiyata Anyanwu , Secretary;Boma Waribor – Assistant Secretary, Golda Nkomadu, Financial Secretary; Parry Saro Benson, Treasurer; Karina Igoniko, Public Relations Executive, and Dr. Helen Chimezie, who emerged as Welfare Officer
In his address to the new executive council members, the President of NIPR and Chairman of Governing Council, Mallam Sirajo, who inaugurated the new state executive council, congratulated the Rivers State chapter of NIPR for a successful election.
He commended the maturity exhibited during the process and called on politicians to borrow a leaf from the experience.
In his response, the re-elected chairman of the chapter, Pastor Paulinus thanked God and members of the Rivers State chapter of the NIPR for another opportunity to serve, noting that was a vote of confidence in his team’s performance in the first term.
He pledged that the new executive would prioritize professional development, national visibility and new vistas of professionalism that would make the chapter to stand out among others in Nigeria.
The returned chairman also solicited the cooperation of members to enable the new leadership take the chapter to greater heights in the next two years.