It gives me great pleasure to be invited as the Guest of Honour to the 2018 Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) being hosted by the Abia State Chapter of the Institute.
You would recall that I personally declared open last year’s Annual Conference of the NIPR in Ilorin, Kwara State, in April, where I also performed the inauguration of the new Governing Board of the Institute. Before that event, I also personally attended the Annual Conference of the Commonwealth Institute of Public Relations in Lagos in 2017. This clearly demonstrates the passion I have for the development of Public Relations Practice in Nigeria.
Let me commend the President, Members of the Governing Council and the entire members of the Institute for their continued efforts at developing, sustaining and advancing the cause of Public Relations Practice in Nigeria, even in the face of daunting challenges.
Distinguished Audience, the theme of this year’s Annual General Meeting, which is “Sustainable Development in a Fragile Economy: The PR Perspective,” could not have come at a more auspicious time than now, considering this administration’s commitment to revamping the economy and returning it to the path of growth and sustainability.
Recall that at last year’s Annual Conference of the NIPR in Ilorin, I highlighted the challenges confronting Public Relations professionals in the discharge of their duties, particularly with the advent and evolution of the Social Media, which has placed the power of communications in the hands of many individuals who lack the maturity and skills to handle news and information materials.
The Institute would be required in the years ahead to bring to bear its expertise in management of materials and human resources in achieving corporate goals and objectives, as well as the overall national growth and development.
The democratisation of the media is a good development, especially in a liberal democracy. But on the flip side, it has also empowered some people who exercise this power without restraint or discretion.
This is so because despite the verifiable and giant strides recorded by this administration, the naysayers have remained unrelenting in their efforts at distracting the government and misleading the people into believing that the government has achieved nothing.
Some commentators in the Social Media have now made it their full time job to twist the remarks and comments made by public officials in order to malign those officials or cast aspersions on them. We are not unaware that this hatchet job has scaled up in view of the forthcoming general elections.
Let me say that contrary to the fake news being circulated on the Social Media, Nigeria is in safe hands and making steady progress, especially in revamping the economy, tackling insecurity and fighting corruption – the three cardinal programmes of the Buhari Administration
This Administration’s achievements should be evaluated against the background of the tough challenges that it has faced since coming into office on 29 May 2015.
When the Administration came into office, there was a backlog of pensions, which ran into billions of Naira in many states, contractors had abandoned sites across the country because they were being heavily owed, there was a dearth of infrastructure, power generation was 2,690 Megawatts, it was to the knowledge of Nigerians that illegal money running into Billions were being paid as ‘fuel subsidies’.
No doubt, the general insecurity being experienced in many parts of the country then negatively impacted on the socio-economic activities of our people especially in the North-East.
Today, this ugly trend is being reversed, and the results are showing:
Foreign reserves is now over $47b, the highest level in four years,
inflation has fallen for 18 consecutive months to about 13%, 108 billion
Naira has been saved from removal of maintenance fees payable to banks before Treasury Single Account (TSA), the nation is being saved 24.7 billion Naira monthly with the full implementation of the TSA and the elimination of ghost workers has saved the nation 120 billion Naira.
With improved macro-economic indicators, capital inflow is on the
rise, reaching $1.8 billion in the second quarter of 2017, which is
almost double the figure of $908 million in the first quarter of the same period, Nigeria’s stock market is one of the best-performing in the world, delivering returns in excess of 40 percent.
Nigeria jumped 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking, and earned a place on the List of Top 10 Reformers in the world.
The Administration’s Agricultural Revolution is a huge success, with agriculture export up year-on-year by 25%, rice import from Thailand dropping 644,000 Metric Tonnes to 22,000MT and rice farmers growing from 5 million to 12.3 million.
The Social Investment Programme of the administration is recording resounding success with the employment of 200,000 graduates under the N-Power Programme and the impending addition of another 300,000. The home-Grown School Feeding
Programme has created jobs for 61,352 cooks, and it is providing 7.5
million school children in 24 states with one
meal a day.
Power generation has been stabilised at 7,000 megawatts, with more from new NIPP projects and improved system upgrade on the transmission and distribution end of the value chain.
The Administration is embarking on a massive infrastructural renewal. With the N100 Billion Sukuk Bond, the government is constructing 25 roads in all the six geo-political zones.
We have increased, many times over, the budget allocated to roads (from 18 billion to 198.25 billion Naira), power (from 5 billion to 91.2 billion Naira) and housing (from 1.8 billion to 71.559 billion Naira), hence the government was able to construct or rehabilitate a total of 766 kilometres of roads across the country in 2017.
On the fight against corruption, Nigeria is now leading the way in Africa because of the successes this administration has achieved in taming corruption.
I can go on and on but clearly these are some of the achievements that the naysayers do not want Nigerians to know, hence their resolve to spend millions of Naira on churning out fake news and disinformation.
In order to defeat the naysayers in their own game, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture will soon embark on the physical inspection of most of the projects executed by the present administration across the country. This will be done in the full glare of the both conventional and social media.
This administration has acquainted itself creditably and has remained focused on the implementation of laudable programmes that will turn around the fortunes of the country.
On the NIPR, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture will continue to support the Institute in charting a course for a virile Public Relations practice in Nigeria, devoid of quackery and interlopers.
In this regards, the Ministry will continue to support the Institute towards its ideals of high professional standard expected from all its members, hence the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture will, within her limited resources, ensure that more of her Information Officers are inducted into the Institute to ensure that the Ministry and indeed the nation derives maximum benefit from the Institute’s continuing education/training modules.
Thank you for your attention.