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Shettima To Public Relations Experts: Reinvent Nigeria’s Story With Truthful Narratives

Shettima has called Nigerian PR professionals the “pillar of the nation’s security framework.”

Vice President Kashim Shettima has charged public relations professionals in the country to serve as guardians of truth and national integration through effective communication in the face of a growing threat by purveyors of disinformation.

Shettima, who spoke on Tuesday, in Abuja, when he declared open the maiden edition of National Spokespersons Summit organised by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), and the Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation, emphasised the critical role image-building and narrative construction play in maintaining social order.

The two-day summit with the theme, “Change Narrative, Change Society,” which had in attendance spokespersons from both public and private sectors seeks to address the challenges of communicating in an era of information overload.

The Vice President who was represented at the event by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Communications (Office of the Vice President), Mr. Stanley Nkwocha, said, “Through your commitments and sacrifices, the voices of the misrepresented and the misunderstood are amplified, and the vision of a better tomorrow is brought to fruition.”

Shettima stressed the immense responsibility spokespersons hold as the voice of their “organisations or principals, representing their values, visions, missions, and aspirations to the public.”

Cautioning against the threat of misinformation, he stated: “You are not only the spokesperson, a gatekeeper of truth, but also a defender of the public at the mercy of fake news merchants and their impressionable mercenaries.

“We can never win the war against misinformation and disinformation unless our responses to them are timely and evidence-based,” he warned. “You are a pillar of the nation’s security framework.”

The Vice President lauded President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to citizen engagement, saying, “This is an invitation for you to partner with us in crafting the right narratives to change the Nigerian story and reinvent our society.”

Shettima, also urged spokespersons to be inclusive, saying, “Always leave a seat empty for any group to join your table and don’t treat anyone as inconsequential because their views don’t align with yours.”

He expressed hope that the summit would, “strengthen the enthusiasm of all spokespersons to bridge divides, inspire commitment, and induce actions that drive the change we desire.”

On his part, Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, emphasised the pivotal role effective communication plays in shaping perceptions and fostering trust.

According to him: “Nigeria, a diversely blessed and vibrant country, grapples with the need to create a cohesive national identity; one that transcends ethnicity, religion, and political affiliations, crafting a compelling national narrative becomes paramount as we strive to live up to our vast potential.”

Idris noted that the future of communication is driven by technology but must be anchored in trust. “Trust remains a critical element in building relationships. As spokespersons, we need to make conscious efforts to build trust and restore hope wherever we are,” he said.

He revealed that this year, the Ministry was set to unveil the “Nigeria Values Charter”, embodying a social contract between the nation and its citizens to define shared values and reinforce national identity.

The Minister praised President Tinubu’s economic reforms, stating that they are “recording incremental successes across various facets of our economy.”

Deji Elumoye

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