Nigerian Institute of Public Relations: Advancing the cause of professional democracy

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Three years ago, before the election of the current President of the Nigeri­an Institute of Public Relations, Dr. Rotimi Oyadele, I had written an article in some national dailies entitled, “NIPR in the process of a new paradigm shift” on the eve of the Institute’s election AGM held in Abuja. As correctly predicted, Dr. Rotimi Oyadele was elected the President to replace Moham­med Adullahi, now late.

NIPR established in 1963 but was chattered in 1990 through decree No. 16 (Now an Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria). By virtue of this law, NIPR derived the power to register members, regu­lates and monitors the practice/de­velopment of the PR profession as well as monitors professional con­ducts through an established code of ethics and professional conduct. As it is the practice with respecta­ble professional organizations eve­rywhere, the law allows standard academic and professional quali­fications for admission into the In­stitute.

Since establishment till date, the institute has had 13 presi­dents. These includes: Dr. Sam Epelle (1963-1968); Chief Kanu Offon (1968-1972); Tonye Wil­lie Harry (1972-1976); Alhaji Ik­haz (1976-1980); Chief Bob Og­buagu(1980-1984); Chief Alex Akinyele (1984-1988); Mazi Mike Okereke (1988-1993); Alhaji Sabo Muhammed (1993-1998); Chief Jibade Oyekan (1998-2001); Sen­ebo Bobo Brown (2001-2005); Prof. Ike Nwosu (2005-2009); Al­haji Mohammed A. Abdullahi (2009-2013); Dr. Rotimi Oladele (2013 till date).

Interestingly and incontestably, the life of the institute could be broken into two phases: the nor­mative era and the technological phase. The first phase began with the founder Dr. Sam Epelle in 1963 and apparently ended with Jibade Oyekan in 2001, while the techno­logical era began with Bobo Brown in 2001 till date.

Although each of the presi­dents left an impressive landmark, the institute has assumed new di­mension beginning from Bobo Brown. This technological phase has been given a boost by the dy­namic and action packed leader­ship of the current president, who has initiated series of transforma­tional programmes and projects. These include the bold attempt to reclassify the membership in or­der to ensure that only those who are professionally and academi­cally qualified registered are effec­tively functional in practice and not in theory. The recertification programmes is at its threshold and will soon be completed. Part of the exercise will be the publication of authentic, correct and verifiable list of members of NIPR i.e. Fel­lows, Members, Associates, Stu­dents and Affiliates.

Another major programme un­dertaken by the Rotimi adminis­tration is the astronomical increase of dues payable by members. Al­though this has started to be im­plemented, it is still being resent­ed by many members who thought that the increase should have been more gradual because according to many members, increase in dues for fellows for example from 7,500 to 25,000: Membership from 5000 to 15,000 and Associates from 3000 to 10,000. Admittedly, the intention of this decision was to bring dues of members almost at par with other corresponding pro­fessional bodies in the country. However, as it has been opined, quite a number of members ex­pect the council which is the high­est authority in the institute to take another look at this in view of the prevailing economic circumstanc­es in our country.

Another major feat already achieved by the administration of Oladele is the streamlining of the secretarial functionaries by the cre­ation of two deputy registrar posi­tions, one at Abuja and the other at Ibadan. It is hoped that by this creation, administrative activities will be more effective particularly in terms of accessibility of records and other information by mem­bers especially chapter chairmen, who tend not to be comfortable with the secretariat at present time by way of correspondence interac­tions. However, a good number of members which to have more ac­cess to the president, despite the fact that the office has been very good in communication with state chapters, particularly with top members of the institute.

There are also changes which have been effected by the current administration.

One of the most significant things which the current adminis­tration has done is to encourage es­tablished conventions of rotation­al presidency among zones of the country. For example, since 1988, the office of the president of the institute has been rotational. And the current president who is from south west is by consensus likely to be re-elected for a second term without any ado, to enable him consolidate on his achievements as the AGM meets in Ibadan. From this, where the next presi­dent will come from is already pre­dicted, that is indeed professional democracy which Nigerian politi­cians can imbibe.

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