By Emmanuel Elebeke
ABUJA – The Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), has commended the leadership of Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs for putting up a new structure that paved way for the use of public relations tool to launder Nigeria’s image.
The national president of the institute, Dr. Rotimi Oladele gave the commendation on Wednesday, when he led a delegation of the NIPR management on a courtesy call to the minister of foreign affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama in Abuja.
The NIPR President said the establishment of a department for inter-communications, crisis management and feedback analysis by the ministry of foreign affairs was a good omen for Nigeria as it had led the foundation to rebrand Nigeria and portray the country on a good light before the international public.
He lamented the appointment of non-professionals as heads of public relation departments in both public and private sectors, which he said had done great damage to the country and their respective organization’s images and urged other agencies to emulate the ministry.
‘‘Nigerian Institute of Public Relations came here to commend the ministry leadership for allowing a structure that paved way for the use of public relations as a tool for achieving their objectives, especially where it set up a department for inter-communications, crisis management and feedback analysis.
‘‘They have put back the power of immediacy, making sure that social media is robust and also putting in a professional to be in charge of the department of public relations with expertise and experience when he was in foreign service and coming back home to do the same. How the leadership found him, and encourage him do that was interesting to us.’’
Dr. Oladele also informed that the second reason for the visit was to identify the area of partnership with the ministry, so that they can do things better.
‘‘We believe in causative approach, where we bring in inputs at the beginning level. That is why we want to partner with the training and development department and the Foreign Service academy, which they own in Lagos, so that we can boost the public service curriculum to the academics curriculum.
‘‘We can also partner with them in capacity building for In-Service course for those who are in the service to be part of the new entrants when they are recruited or political appointees all over the world. The idea is that before they go they must know the brand very well, understand Nigeria as a brand, and be able to build strategies on their own to market Nigeria, analyze Nigerian policies, and to get feedback for planning and also to manage crisis of reputation wherever it occurs all over the world,’’ he added.
The NIPR President, said ”Nigerians are known for doing so many exploits all over the world but receive poor publicity back home and urged the media to stop championing bad news more than the good news if they truly care to give Nigeria a good reputation.
‘‘As at today, we have changes in rebranding Nigeria, unlike before when we did not care about reputation of Nigeria. The image has improved a lot because there is no nation you mention that you don’t see a Nigerian that has achieved something tangible.
‘‘The only thing is that we have not talked enough about out achievements. Rather than championing the bad news more, the media should champion the good news. We are not saying, don’t air bad news, but in doing this, let us air good news equally if not more.’’
Also speaking the NIPR chairman, Abuja chapter, Prince Tayo Haastrup, said the institute was embarking on aggressive membership drive to ensure that only certified NIPR professionals head all public relation departments in both public and private organizations.
Haatsrup, who deplored the operation of quacks noted that steps were being taken by the institute to enforce compliance of the law, which permits only the NIPR to regulate the practice of public relations in the country.
‘‘What we are preaching is that for us to work effectively, every public relation appointee in government must head the PR department must be our member. Anybody practicing PR has to be a professional certified by NIPR.
‘‘If those handling the image laundering of the country and companies are not NIPR people, it will be difficult to launder any image. That is why we are campaigning that people that heads this department should be NIPR members.
‘‘The level of compliance in Nigeria is very low and that is why we will take punitive actions. Even quacks have gone ahead to organize trainings for our members, forging our letter headed papers. We know it is not only in PR that this happens, it is applicable in other professions. We are not taking it light that is why we are already prosecuting some scape goats.’’
Responding, the minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bamgbose Olukunle, said the ministry take training of staff seriously and promised to work with the NIPR to improve the capacity of the ministry staff and also launder Nigeria’s image.
‘‘We will look at what you have said and see how we can incorporate them in our training programmes.
‘‘In this ministry, we believe so much on staff training through partnership. We have training programme for foreign service officers and we will look into these proposals and see where PR comes in. For us, the professional inputs and engaging the right people in PR department is our primary concern.’’