From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The federal government has called on the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) to counter those fanning the embers of disunity and discord in the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call when he received in audience, the President of NIPR, Mr Muktar Sirajo, and other members of the Governing Council of the NIPR in Abuja.
The visit, according to the Special Assistant to the President (Media), Office of the Minister of Information and Culture, Segun Adeyemi, came ahead of the annual general meeting of the NIPR in Bauchi State on May 20.
‘Each of us in our respective positions has a role to play to tone down the rhetoric and reduce the tension (in the polity), and I am glad that NIPR is lending its platform to work with the government to ensure that we have a country, which is peaceful and which is secured,’ Mohammed said.
‘Without security, there can be no development and that’s why this administration is doing everything possible to return peace and security across the country. This is where I think you can come in as a body of NIPR that we must put the nation first.’
Mohammed further welcomed the NIPR’s offer to make available its platform for a national engagement on national unity, peace and security, saying that the offer fell into the template of the town hall meetings on topical issues, which have been institutionalised by the federal government.
The minister also urged the NIPR to join the government in the fight against fake news in the country, saying the NIPR needed to rein in members who always throw professional ethics to the wind for pecuniary gains in order to advance fake narratives.
‘You have a powerful platform to actually ensure that the menace of fake news is confronted squarely. Regrettably, however, members of the institute have been found wanting. They most times place pecuniary interests and motives above professional ethics and patriotism.
‘If you recall the sad incident of the P&ID saga, it was a member of this institute, a firm of public relations consultants, which was hired to give the impression to the world that Nigeria indeed entered into an agreement with P&ID and actually reneged, and as such, Nigeria should pay over US$9 billion. It took this ministry and others to go to the UK to actually change the narratives,’ Mohammed added.
Speaking during the visit, Sirajo, condemned the politicisation of the security situation in the country by politicians, saying that the issue of security was beyond politics.
Sirajo added assured the minister that the NIPR was ready to provide a platform for national dialogue on peace and security in order to secure a consensus on the unity of the country.