By Segun Oniyide
The Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN) has strongly condemned the recent appointment of a foreign brand consulting firm to manage the political communications of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in its build-up to the 2015 general elections.
In a press release signed by its President, Chido B Nwakanma and Publicity Secretary Israel Jaiye Opayemi, the association observed that the move was antithetical to the ideals of a group that claims to be progressive. The full text of the release goes thus:
“The Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria and all Nigerians received with consternation and concern for the future of our country the declaration by the All Progressives Congress that it has engaged the US public relations firm AKPD to manage its political communication for the 2015 general elections in Nigeria. APC’s interim National Publicity Secretary Mr Lai Muhammad announced this step in a press statement as reported in The Nation of Tuesday, February 18, 2014.
It is dumbfounding that a political party that positions itself as progressive and actuated by a desire to reposition Nigeria would by its actions show its preference for foreign professionals against tried and tested practitioners at home, thereby evincing a contrarian desire to promote local unemployment. Political communication is country specific and follows from the dictum that all politics is local. Local issues will determine the direction of the pendulum in the next elections. Certified local professionals who live and do business in the country are in the best position to understand the issues, including the local nuances and peculiarities of our media.
Nigerian law is very clear. Only persons certified by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations can practise public relations in Nigeria. Only persons certified by the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria can similarly offer advertising counsel. ByeLaw No 3 of NIPR Act 16 of 1990 further requires certification for consulting firms who wish to offer public relations service in the country.
Beyond law, Nigerian communication agencies have successfully managed political communication in elections over the years. It is heartrending that APC would throw away a rich history of political communication strategy and messaging in Nigeria for the quixotic notion of being associated with the strategists for US President Barack Obama.
PRCAN is astounded that APC would ignore the clear provisions of Nigerian Law on professional practice by its conduct on the matter. What message is this political party sending to Nigerians? Is this foreign-is-better mentality what it would bring to governance? Would it also hire American lawyers or Queen’s Counsels from England to handle pre- or post-election petitions?
PRCAN gives notice to APC and other political parties of its resolve to ensure a stop to the practice of bringing in foreign communication firms to handle briefs that Nigerian agencies are qualified to manage. Enough is enough.
We are disappointed that a public relations practitioner such as Lai Mohammed, who ran a PRCAN agency, would be the one promoting this perfidy against Nigerian professionals in communication.
PRCAN calls on distinguished leaders of APC who have displayed respect for Nigerian professionals by engaging our member firms such as Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Ekiti State Governor Dr Kayode Fayemi and Governor Raji Fashola of Lagos State to call their party’s communication team to order.”