NIPR moves for nonviolent communication at spokespersons summit

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By Ere-ebi Agedah Imisi

President of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, NIPR, Dr Ike Neliaku has emphasized the critical need for a shift towards nonviolent communication as the country navigates through a delicate time.

Dr Neliaku noted this on Tuesday in Abuja while delivering a welcoming remarks as the host of the spokespersons summit with the theme, “Change Narrative, Change Society,” which had in attendance spokespersons from both public and private sectors seeking to address the challenges of communicating in an era of information overload.

According to Neliaku, the Nation is filled with violent communicators adding that part of the objective of the summit is to foster the transformation and shift towards nonviolent communication in the nation.

‘‘Our nation is filled with violent communicators, and it is time that we begin the process of nonviolent communication. That’s one of the outcomes that we hope to have from this summit’’ he said.

Bringing together experts from both within and outside Nigeria, the NIPR boss emphasized on the invaluable insights that will be shared by experienced spokespersons during the summit. Recognizing the pressures they face, he stressed the importance of equipping them with essential skills, especially through specialized training clinics.

Amidst current challenges, Neliku lamented on the consequences of individuals assuming roles beyond their capabilities, resulting in chaos and conflict. He asserted that at the end of the summit, spokespersons will be equipped fit into their roles of Nation building and to embrace their identity as Nigerians and prioritize the nation’s development.

Highlighting the indispensable role of public relations in nation-building, Neliku added that the NIPR’s mandate to drive the process of reputation management in the country cannot be over emphasized as he applauded the federal government’s involvement in shaping the institute’s direction.

Also, Minister of Information and National Orientation Mohammed Idris noted that communication is not merely about words, but about making a real impact on people and organizations.

Idris who is also the chief host at the event maintained that “This summit is a pivotal event aimed at transforming the landscape of communication in Nigeria.

Speaking on the theme of the summit, the minister said the theme “resonates deeply with the challenges facing us as a people.

“I am glad to note that this summit brings together spokespersons from both the public and private sectors, spanning national and sub-national levels. As communication professionals, you must be aware that you play a crucial role in shaping perceptions, disseminating accurate information, and fostering trust. Indeed, the nation’s peace, stability, growth, and development can only be attained by how we communicate.” He said.

In the same vein, Nigeria’s Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima, while declaring the summit open tasked public relations professionals in the country to serve as guardians of truth and national integration through effective communication in the face of a growing threat by purveyors of disinformation.

VP Shettima who was represented at the event by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Communications, Office of the Vice President, Mr. Stanley Nkwocha, said, “Through your commitments and sacrifices, the voices of the misrepresented and the misunderstood are amplified, and the vision of a better tomorrow is brought to fruition.”

Cautioning against the threat of misinformation, Senator Shettima stated: “You are not only the spokesperson, a gatekeeper of truth, but also a defender of the public at the mercy of fake news merchants and their impressionable mercenaries.

“We can never win the war against misinformation and disinformation unless our responses to them are timely and evidence-based,” he warned. “You are a pillar of the nation’s security framework.”

Dignitaries at the opening ceremony of the summit included Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State represented by the Deputy Governor, Kayode Alabi; Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohaneye; Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Adewale Adeniyi; Chairman, Senate Committee on Capital Market and Institutions, Senator Osita Izunaso, and Chairman, Nigeria-Australia Group, and member representing Mayo-Belwa/Jada/Ganye/Toungo federal constituency, Hon. Muhammad Inuwa Bassi.

Others are Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa; former Niger State Governor, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu; Chairman of Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria, BON, Salihu Abdulhamid Dembos, former Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, Prof Tonnie Iredia, and Public Diplomacy Counselor to the United States of America’s Mission in Nigeria, Robert Gabor, among several others.