Nigeria PR Professionals are Legally Preferable than Hired Foreign Consultants-Falana
By Afam Belolisa
A foremost human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana, has called on professionals in politics to “take over from professional politicians” in order to bridge the trust gap in the country’s governance.
Falana spoke recently in Abuja as the keynote speaker during the 2018 AGM/Conference of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), FCT Chapter, with the theme: ‘Bridging the Trust Gap in Governance: Implications for Emerging Democracies’.
He called on professionals such as public relations practitioners, lawyers and journalists to occupy the political space in the same way as their predecessors who led the struggle for the nation’s political independence, and help to prevent the country from descending into a failed-state status.
The Senior Advocate advised political parties and political actors to desist from engaging foreign PR consultants in preference to existing substantial PR expertise in the country, citing presidential Executive Order No. 5 of 2018.
“Please obtain a copy of the Executive Order and challenge government and its agencies to comply by ridding the country of so-called foreign PR experts, so that your organization can handle the PR for politicians,” he said.
He expressed confidence that the country’s situation could be turned around for the better, stressing that “the intervention of accomplished professionals in our politics is the solution”.
The keynote speaker expressed concern that the political system in the country had been hijacked by a few who possess most of the financial muscle, stressing that governments had failed to address the issues of poverty, ignorance and illiteracy, thereby widening the trust gap between the government and the governed.
“All Nigerian governments know that the people don’t trust them,” the keynote speaker said, pointing out that the outcomes of various town-hall meetings were never addressed.
Falana warned that potential foreign investors in the country might also be scared away if impunity in election-related matters as well as infidelity to the rule of law were not seriously addressed.
In his goodwill message, APRA President, Mr. Yomi Badejo-Okusanya called on Public Relations practitioners to take PR profession seriously, noting that PR is important in every facet of human endeavour.
“PR is the salt, and it must be added to every cooking to make it taste right,” he said.
Declaring the Conference open earlier, the NIPR President, Malam Mukhtar Sirajo, said that trust gap in governance is a major problem that constitutes a setback in the nation’s democracy, and commended the Institute for setting the agenda on the issue of trust in governance.
He urged the citizens to engage their leaders and ask questions that would engender accountability as a way of addressing the challenge of trust deficit in governance. “We need to deploy our critical faculties,” he said.
The President expressed satisfaction with the choice of theme, which he described as timely and apt, and lauded the FCT Chapter for always making the Institute proud.
In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the FCT Chapter, Dr. Tayo Haastrup, said that the theme of the AGM had been carefully selected to discuss the issue of the widening trust gap in governance, with the aim of proffering solutions for national development.
Haastrup cautioned against hate speech as the nation prepares for the 2019 general elections, adding that the nation’s democracy needed to be strengthened.
Culled from the December edition of “PR Monthly”, a publication of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, FCT Chapter. E-mail: [email protected]