By Sumaila Ogbaje
The President, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Malam Muktar Sirajo, has lauded the Nigerian Army over compliance with professional standard in appointing its public relations officers.
Sirajo made the commendation when he led the executive members of the Institute on a visit to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said that the visit was to seek the cooperation of the army on the plan of the institute to carry out compliance enforcement.
According to him, NIPR is the body that is solely mandated by the laws of this country to regulate the practice of public relations in Nigeria and set parameters of knowledge to be acquired.
“It was chartered by Decree number 16 of 1990 which is now an Act of Parliament, and part of the provisions of that law is the criminalization of the practice of public relations without license by the institute.
“The provisions that criminalises this aspect of our profession does not seem to have the requisite teeth to bite because government and the system generally does not seem to come clean in respect of that.
“But, I want to single out the Nigerian army for commendation in terms of the appointments of the spokespersons and directors of public relations.
“The Nigerian Army has substantially complied with this and that is why we have had Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade as a fellow of the institute occupying that position.
“The immediate past director too is a fellow of the institute and Col. Sagir Musa is not only a member but an aspiring fellow of the institute.
“Whenever we are with the army spokespersons, we are at home and I think that the Nigerian Army deserves the commendation and that is why we decided to come to Nigerian army first,’’ he said.
Sirajo said that the institute was ready to partner the army to address the national security issues and also to seek its support to host a planned ‘Reputation Summit’.
He also urged for the army’s partnership in organising a workshop for the army public relations officers on strategic security and conflict communications management and other mandatory professional development trainings.
In his response, Buratai said that the visit of the NIPR team was apt and timely as it came at a time when the army had discovered the missing link between it and the general public.
He pledged to collaborate and support NIPR on its programmes as well as ensuring the participation of army spokespersons in the training and courses offered by the institute.
According to Buratai, the army recognises the importance of public relations to its operations and activities.
“You will not know the impact of public relations until you have received several bashes and you discover that you are left alone but by and large, we have been working so hard.
“We appreciate the role of the Directorate of Public Relations; we had a dynamic director who really worked very hard to bring the Nigerian Army to what it is today.
“Be rest assured that the Nigerian army will partner with you fully on this workshop on strategic security and conflict communications management.
“It is very apt and timely and be rest assured that we will collaborate.
“The visit today will be a turning point between the Nigerian Army and NIPR in fostering our relationship and we will give you all the support to ensure that the law is enforced and practiced in the Nigerian army,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that members of the NIPR team included former Director-General of Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Prof. Tony Iredia and former Army spokesperson, Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade.
Also on the team was the former spokesperson for Nigerian Customs Service, Mr Wale Adeniyi, who is currently a Comptroller of Customs.