From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River has called on the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) to draw a line between lobbying and corruption.
Ayade, who made the call during a workshop organised by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations in Calabar with the theme “Lobbying & Social Change in Nigeria”, said it is high time the NIPR regulated the practice of lobbying as a profession as there is a thin line between lobbying and corruption.
The governor, who spoke as special guest of honour, said: ‘The use of money to influence a decision is corruption so how do you deal with a situation where you are advocating lobbying without necessarily bringing out the essential elements that brings the poison that comes with lobbying.
‘The age of Nigeria, our attitude and orientation does not allow us to see clearly the distinction between corruption and lobbying except such laws are so strong and stiff.
‘Those who will draft the laws, guidelines and framework that deals with lobbying must spell out clearly the essentials that constitutes corruption.
‘There must be structural and normative framework that will guide the regulation of the practice of lobbying as a profession. Until that dissection is done, you will simply be marketing corruption,’ the governor stated.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the NIPR Education Advisory Board, Professor Emmanuel Dandaura, said lobbying is a public relations function which should be legally protected.
He said lobbying allows voices of citizens, groups, associations, labour unions and others to be heard in the political arena.
He added that ‘without lobbying, governments will struggle to sort out the many competing interests of it’s citizens.’
On his part, the president and chairman of council NIPR, Mukhtar Zubairu Sirajo, said lobbying is fast becoming a potent tool for advocacy which is used by many groups or individual when a particular issue of interest is undergoing a legislative process.
According to him, the three day workshop will attempt to address the perceived overlap between lobbying and PR.