(By Iheanyi Ezinwo)- The Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, NIPR, Thursday in Port Harcourt awarded the Rivers State governor, Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, with Honourary Felowship of the Institute and also recognized him as Patron of the Rivers State chapter of the institute.
Speaking at the occasion christened: 2018 Conference and Investiture of Rivers State Governor as Patron/Honourary Fellow of NIPR and with the theme: Public Relations and Social Influence, the excited Governor Wike, who thanked the institute for the double honours, said he accepted them wholeheartedly and that they are not just to him but to the people of Rivers State he is representing.
The governor however charged the professionals not only to be concerned about their institute but also where Nigeria is heading to, just as he maintained that one can only have an institute when there is a peaceful country.
“Don’t just talk about professionalism in your institute, also talk about where the country is heading to. If the country is not doing well, your institute will not do well”, Wike said, insisting that ” we must talk about the unity and survival of the country”.
The multiple award winning Rivers governor harped on the need for Nigerian’s to carefully appraise where the country is presently and where it is headed: “If we get 2019 right, I know what will happen; if we don’t get it right, I do not know what will happen”, hinting that where the country is now does not signal hope for the future.
He promised to ensure that all those working with him who should be members of the Institute but are not comply in order not to be seen to be breaching the law, while promising to play his part as patron of Rivers State chapter and honourary fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations.
Earlier, the National President of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Mallam Mukhtar Sirajo, had hinted that only about three awards of honourary fellowships as well as recognitions of governors as patrons of state chapters of NIPR have been performed in the last five years because, according to him, the honours are given to only those who meet the performance and good reputation criteria.
He said their investigations, after the Rivers State chapter began to mount pressures on the National Secretariat showed that Wike has done very well in infrastructural development, promotion of peace and unity among the various sections of the state; enjoys cordial working relations with the other two arms of government and working hard to ensure security of lives and property, thereby making Rivers State safe for people to visit, stay and also do business.
Mallam Murktar Sirajo however appealed to the governor to use his positions as Honourary Fellow of NIPR and patron of the Rivers State chapter to direct all those working with him and who should be members of the institute to do so in order not to be seen as quacks, and also reach out to his colleagues to do likewise.
The 2018 conference of NIPR, Rivers State chapter also featured election of a new executive led by Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, Permanent Secretary in the Rivers State Ministry of Information and Communications as chairman; Dr. Rita Inoma- Abbey, former Police Public Relations Officer as Vice Chairman among others.
In his remarks, chairman of the Rivers State chapter, Mr. Dike Bekwelle, thanked members for their support and urged them to extend similar support to the new leadership. It would be recalled that, Mr. Samuel Oseloka, now elected Council Member of NIPR, had since resigned his position as Rivers State chapter chairman of NIPR upon that election, paving the way for his vice chairman, Dike Bekwelle to become the immediate past chairman.
Another highlight of the occasion which was chaired by Bro. Emma Ogodi, National Vice – Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in the South- South, was a keynote address by Barr. Karibi George, Fellow of NIPR, and he spoke on the theme: ‘Public Relations and Social Influence.
People from all walks of life attended the colourful ceremonies including the immediate past National President of NIPR, Dr. Rotimi Oladele, traditional ruler, including HRM, Disreal Bobmanuel of Abonnema, HRH Bokumor Orukari of Sagbagrea, Bayelsa State and HM Felix Otuarikpo of Upata kingdom and members of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations students Association.