NIPR Taskforce Moves To Sanction Unlicensed PR Practitioners – General Olukolade
…plans sensitization visits and awareness campaigns
…advice firms/agencies to appoint registered members
The Chairman of the Compliance and Enforcement Committee of the Nigeria Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), General Chris Olukolade (Rtd), has said that machinery is being put in place to sanction individuals who are practicing public relations without certification as required by relevant laws.
General Olukolade, a former Director of Defence Information (DDI) disclosed at the inaugural meeting of the committee which comprises top public relations practitioners in the security, paramilitary, public service, and the private sector.
He said the institute is putting in place appropriate structures at all levels to effectively enforce NIPR laws and practices by liaising with the council of the institute to set up chapter-level Compliance and Enforcement Committee in all states.
“Apart from our plan to mobilize and engage in sensitization campaigns with various stakeholders and the public, we are working towards setting up the NIPR Tribunal for the prosecution of quacks who are practicing PR illegally without proper registration as required by the NIPR Act,” he said.
He said the committee would soon commence monitoring of advertisements and recruitments relating to public relations practice and initiate the process of the prosecution of individuals and corporate bodies operating in violation of the NIPR Act.
Also speaking at the inaugural meeting, the secretary of the Committee, Dr. Igwe Chibueze, said the committee’s terms of reference include liaising with the state chapters to establish functional monitoring and compliance team that would ensure nationwide monitoring and maximum compliance with the NIPR Act; identify organizations that recruit non-members of NIPR for appropriate actions, secure the support of relevant regulatory and professional bodies to appreciate the implication of NIPR Act with regards to employment and contracts for PR jobs and consultancies.
Other members who attended the inaugural meeting include former Army, Navy, and Police Spokespersons Brig. General SK Usman (Rtd), Commodore Kabir Aliyu (Rtd), CP. Dr Emmanuel Ojukwu (rtd) respectively; Director Public Relations, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Wilson Uwujaren and Customs Spokesperson Chief Superintendent Abdullahi Maiwada.
Others included Mr Israel J. Opayemi, President Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN); Mrs Comfort Obot Nwankwo, Chairperson NIPR Lagos State chapter; Mohammed Rabiu Wada, Chairman NIPR Bauchi; Mr Goke Adelabu, Chairman Oyo State chapter NIPR and General Manager Oyo State Radio, Pastor Yemisi Femi-Oyekola of the National Assembly among others.
During the recent inauguration of the committee, the NIPR President, Dr Ike Neliaku, charged the members to be firm, decisive, and uncompromising in enforcing the content of the 1990 NIPR Practitioners Act, now Cap N114 Laws of the Federation, 2004.
He said the appointment of thoroughbred professionals, including serving security officers like DIG Frank Mba of the Nigerian Police, Dr. Peter Afunanya of the Department of State Services (DSS), Brigadier General Tukur Gusau and Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu of Defence Headquarters and Army Headquarters, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet of Air Force and Navy Commodore Kayode Ayo-Vaughan (DINFO), Compt Dr. Ben Oramalugo of Customs, DCM Bisi Kazeem of FRSC, Deputy Compt Dotun Aredegbe, ACP Muyiwa Adejobi (FPRO), Chief Superintendent Afolabi Babawale of NSCDC is part of the Governing Council’s response to the growing demand by certified public relations practitioners to rid the profession of unlicensed interlopers, otherwise known as quacks.
Neliaku said the NIPR Act in section 19 (2) prohibits any person from practicing public relations without certification from the NIPR and in same section 19 (4a & b) prescribes appropriate punishments for offenders, which include fine, imprisonment, or both.
He added that with the inauguration of the NIPR Act Compliance Committee, any fresh appointment of a non-registered member of the Institute from Tuesday, 24th of October, 2023, will be prosecuted in accordance with the provisions of the law.
He called on defaulting organizations to ensure that their appointees register and regularize with the Institute between October and 31st of December, 2023 as the full enforcement regime for this category of offenders will commence from 1st of January, 2024.
The NIPR boss had condemned the consistent violation of the Act by many government establishments that appoint non-registered persons as Spokespersons, Officers of Public Relations, Corporate Affairs, Public Affairs, etc., especially in this present dispensation.
“The NIPR has noticed with great displeasure, the increasing trend of corporate rascality in appointing Spokespersons by most agencies of government, which we must all rise to stop forthwith, noting that every institution of government ordinarily should be a ‘respecter’ of the law and not a violator,” he said.
The NIPR has for several years embarked on advocacy campaigns to enlighten members of the public on the provisions of the Act.