By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Mr Isaac Okoroafor, the acting Director, Corporate Communications, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says the apex bank resisted suggestions to float the Naira when the country was battling with economic recession.
Okoroafor spoke at the Capital Chapter Congress/Dinner of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), FCT chapter, on Wednesday in Abuja.
Delivering a lecture titled, “Managing Public Confidence in a Period of Economic Challenge -The Role of Public Relations’’, the CBN spokesman said the bank was vindicated afterwards for rejecting the suggestion.
A floating exchange rate is a regime where the currency price is set by the forex market based on supply and demand compared with other currencies.
This is in contrast to a fixed exchange rate, in which the government entirely or predominantly determines the rate.
“Several people both local and international made the suggestions that we float the Naira but we said no.
“ We resisted the option because we felt it was a wrong option and dangerous to the economy and we are very happy we proved them wrong.
“We believe we succeeded and what are doing now in to consolidate on the successes and address our failures,’’ he said.
He said that crisis was unavoidable; hence the need for public relations practitioners to be proactive.
Okoroafor advised the practitioners to be truthful and engage stakeholders continuously.
“You do not have to wait until there is a crisis before you begin to engage; during periods of normalcy, you need to engage people; make sure you supply people with information prior to the crisis because the crisis will come one day.
“ Once you engage people steadily, and crisis comes, they will be on your side because they already know the crisis will come.
“If you create a level of confidence with your stakeholders, especially the media, they will readily defend you when there is crisis.’’
Okoroafor said there was need for Nigeria to begin to add value to the goods it exported in order to strengthen the Naira.
He said that if Nigeria remained a nation of consumers – taking from other countries and hampering local production, the Naira would continue to be weak.
On his part, Dr Tayo Hastrup, Chairman, NIPR, FCT chapter, said that the decision to engage Okoroafor for the lecture was informed by his wealth of experience in public relations.
He said that the CBN spokesman and his team creditably acquitted themselves in public relations when Nigeria was in recession.
“The Nigerian economy is very important to us; we just came out of recession and the CBN is a very strategic agency in this country.
“We decided at executive level to get somebody from the CBN, who is our member, Okoroafor.
“We have the belief that as a public relations person heading the corporate communications department of CBN, he will be versatile enough to talk on the issue in question.
“The nation faced some serious challenges but the strategy adopted by CBN public relations was able to douse tension and professionally handled the crisis,’’ he said.
Hastrup said that he believed that the lecture would boost the professional capacity of public relations practitioners in handling challenges.(NAN)