TEXT OF PRESS CONFERENCE BY MALAM MUKHTAR ZUBAIRU SIRAJO, FNIPR, PRESIDENT AND CHAIRMAN OF COUNCIL, NIGERIAN INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS, ON THE FORTHCOMING CITIZENS SUMMIT FOR NATIONAL INTEGRATION, PEACE AND SECURITY BY NIPR AND PARTNERS. 15TH AUGUST 2022
On behalf of the Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), I welcome you to this press conference signaling the official commencement of activities towards the forthcoming finale of the Citizens Summit for National Integration, Peace and Security, billed to hold next week Tuesday, 23rd and Wednesday 24th, August, 2022 at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
This Summit is a product of research conducted by the Governing Council of the Institute to identify factors responsible for current sad and unfortunate developments in our country. The outcome revealed a widening trust deficit at three levels – between government and the citizens, between and among the various ethnic and sociology cultural groups, and generally among the citizens, which have have tended to weaken the fabrics that have held us together as a people. The research also revealed a collapse of core national values, citizens despondency and apathy on issues of national development.��It was therefore, the need to address the identified challenges that birthed the idea of the programme named “Citizens Summit for National Integration, Peace andSecurity, a programme, carefully designed to promote national cohesion, peaceful co-existence among citizens, rebuild trust, and lay solid foundation for a new and prosperous Nigeria.
Today, it is a common knowledge that relationships amongst our people are not what they used to be; mutual suspicion and antagonism seem to have taken over the place of our once beautiful and relatively peaceful coexistence that was least influenced by ethno-religious and other primordial differences. Realising that at the core of the mandate of the Public Relations profession is the birthing and sustenance of mutually beneficial relationships (and mending them where they crack or even break down) the Institute came to the conclusion that our beloved country, Nigeria, needs more than a shot in the arm in this regard. No nation thrives and progresses in an atmosphere of distrust. The Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) recognizes trust as a key element in nation-building and the role of dialogue in societal well-being and development, and has decided to take up the challenge of rebuilding the broken trust through reopening channels of effective dialogue and development-oriented conversation. It is for this reason that we chose the theme of the Summit to be, Reopen Conversation, Rebuild Trust.
We are very much aware that the task of rebuilding Nigeria is enormous and demanding, but we are ready to join efforts with government and other wellmeaning Nigerians, individuals and corporate, to drive the process to a logical conclusion. The Institute believes that no sacrifice is too much for a nation so blessed and so loved. It is for this reason that we challenge organizations and individuals to always place Nigeria first above personal and any other interests.��There is need to entrench a culture of social justice for national integration and sustainable peace; there is need to develop a new communication culture and thrust for Nigeria; there is need for effective national mediation, reconciliation and investment in peace building for national integration; there is need to reengage and include the Nigerian youths, women, and people with disabilities in leadership and governance; there is need to strive for balance, equity, fairness, and justice as our way of life. These are part of what this Summit intends to achieve.
For the country to move forward, we must change the paradigm on how we engage the citizens and the techniques of dialogue. Government must learn modern art of citizens engagement and the people must on the other hand appreciate the fact that the task of nation building is a collective responsibility in which the citizens too, have great roles to play. The country belongs to all of us(young and old, men and women) and until we realize and internalize this, all of us will remain slaves in the hands of a few.
In the cause of our consultations across the country, we discovered that Nigerians love Nigeria. They, certainly are not be happy with the state of affairs, but none wants to see Nigeria fail. For this reason, they want to express themselves, but in most cases, they lack the credible platforms to engage. That authentic and trusted platform for objective expression of views is what this Summit is providing for both the citizens and government.
The Summit will address at the plenary, issues such as – Nigeria: Where We Missed it, the Need to Rethink; it will also look into the Path to Reinventing our Nationhood; Rebuilding Trust and enabling the Culture and Practice of Non-violent Communication.
The whole idea of the Summit is to activate the process of rebuilding a new Nigeria that works, based on raising the new Nigerians that will build the new Nigeria. A nation that will be governed by strong national values that promote oneness and equity among the diverse people of the country.
It is also important to state that we are not in this alone; the Institute is undertaking this project in collaboration with 70 other organizations, who share same vision and hope of a greater Nigeria. May I on this note express our profound thanks and appreciation to the organisations that are partnering with us to achieve this milestone. These include organisations that are governmental, non-governmental, labour, ethnic/socio cultural, professional, traders, traditional, religious, women, youth, students, the media and more
The Nigerian Institute of Public Relations is also very concerned about the the rising case of insecurity in the country and calls on both state and non-state actors to intensify collaborations and redouble efforts at federal, state, and local levels towards ensuring effective protection and security of lives and property in Nigeria. Also, the Institute is greatly worried over the prolonged ASUU strike, which has affected the academic calendar of our children. There is no gainsaying the fact that we can only assure the future of the country by ensuring an assured future for its future leaders. This cannot be brought about without consciously and deliberately preparing them for the challenges ahead. A solid educational foundation is therefore absolutely a necessary first step towards achieving that. We must therefore quickly return to the path of giving education of our children the urgency and importance that it more than deserves. Government should as a matter of urgency, engage more determinedly with the concerned unions to resolve the lingering and embarrassing strike and should be seen to be doing that.
We are delighted to announce that prominent, experienced, and well enlightened Nigerians have accepted to speak at this summit. The speakers cut across all divides, in terms of age, background, and other socio-cultural and economic considerations to ensure balanced views on issues. We have a total of two plenaries and 2 syndicates, across 14 thematic areas. Such speakers include Prof. Anya O. Anya, Chief Audu Ogbe, Barr. Mrs. Adepeju Jaiyeoba, Mallam Bashir Yusuf, Mr. JJ Omojuwa, amongst others. The Summit will be chaired by Dr. Mrs. Dere Awosika, Chairman, Access Bank.
The Citizens Summit is expected to come up with creative ideas, sustainable solutions, and implementable outcomes. To this end we have engaged core professionals to document the entire summit processes and ensure that, we have a comprehensive and implementable report of the summit. One of the major outcomes is the initiation of a “Citizens Charter”, with focus on national reconciliation, integration, and development.
To you gentlemen of the media, we thank you for coming and look forward to your support in promoting and giving visibility to this effort that is aimed at changing the narrative for Nigeria.
Thank you for your attention. God bless Nigeria.