By Dipo Olowookere
As a way of developing the capacity, skills and the expertise of indigenous public relations consultants in Nigeria, the Federal Government has promised to henceforth give them priority.
Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, made this pledge last Friday when President of Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PR-CAN), Mr John Ehiguese, paid him a courtesy visit at his office in Abuja.
Mr Mohammed noted that a policy would soon be adopted by the government to give the right of first refusal to indigenous consultants in its projects.
According to him, even when a foreign consultant is coming into the country, the company must involve indigenous consultants.
He recalled that “at the last Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, it was hotly debated that in all forms of consultancy we should as a matter of policy insist that no consultant should come without his own Nigerian partner. That way we believe that it will make it easier for us to develop the capacity, skills and the expertise of our home-grown consultants.”
He said when enacted, the policy will not only give impetus to job creation but it will also assist in the development of the capacity of the indigenous consultants.
“When you involve your own consultants in your projects, you are not just taking expert advice, you are also employing people who have already bought into the project and who appreciate the fact that the success of that project is the success of the country.
“We believe in skills and technology transfer but if you don’t give your people a chance, who is going to give them a chance? People argue that the Nigerian consultants don’t have the requisite experience. Even if that is the case, how will they get it if you continue every time to shun them and you prefer foreign consultants? These foreign consultants got to where they got to because they were given the opportunity from their country,” the Minister said.
He said once the policy is active, government ministries and agencies will begin to involve consultants like PR-CAN in their programmes.
Mr Mohammed said even in the development of the “Change Begins With Me” Campaign, indigenous consultants also made their contributions to the project and he expressed the willingness to continue to engage them in the national re-orientation campaign.
In his remarks, the President of PR-CAN, Mr John Ehiguese, sought to make available the skills and expertise of the association to support the government’s policy communication programmes.
“Honourable Minister, the overriding reason for our seeking this audience with you today is to share some of our thoughts and ideas with you on how we, as professionals in the area of strategic communications can, with your assistance, contribute our quota to supporting the numerous policy communication programmes and campaigns which you superintend by virtue of your office,” he said.
He expressed the optimism that the numerous challenges confronting the government can be effectively tackled through effective and proper communication.
Mr Ehiguese expressed the association’s appreciation to the Minister for “the great job you are doing in trying to bring about genuine change in our country, as well as to market the government’s policies and programmes.”
He also extended an invitation to the Minister to serve as Guest Speaker in the 2017 PR-CAN Gold Medal Lecture coming up in Abuja, an invitation which the Minister has accepted.
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