By Yushau A. Shuaib
The 2023 Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) has cleared 29 candidates vying for the seats of 18 Governing Council members of the institution.The election will be held at NIPR’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Conference, with the theme, “Leadership, Public Relations and Value Creation,” in Abuja, today August 24, 2023.
The Chairman and Secretary of the electoral committee, Chief Casca Ogosu and Mr. Uzoma Onyegbadue told the Spokesperson’s Digest, a sister publication of PRNigeria that among the 29-list candidates, 18 of them have achieved the esteemed status of being Fellows of the Institute, with an additional nine candidates entering the fray as Members, while one person is an Associate Member.
According to the NIPR Act, after voting, the elected Governing Council members will form an Electoral College to further elect the President and Vice President of the association, who would double as Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Governing Council of NIPR for a tenure of two years each.
The major contenders for the presidency of the institute are two Fellows, Mrs. Nkechi Ali-Balogun, of the Lagos Chapter, and Dr. Ike Neliaku of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Chapter.
While I am reluctant to get involved in the typical politicking around the candidates, I must say that the two major gladiators are exceptional PR professionals whose professionalism, competence, capability, and performance on the job I can vouch for.
I have known Dr. Ike Neliaku since 1994 when I was deployed to the Federal Ministry of Information as a staff, after winning the 1993 Presidential National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) award, which came with automatic employment in the Federal Civil Service.
Neliaku, who had previously won the same award in 1991, was then the Personal Assistant to the Minister of Information, who not only guided me through the rudiments of work in the civil service but equally gave me unforgettable moral and kind support to ease into the new work environment.
I recall vividly how he had strongly urged me to sustain my regular article writings, which were being recognised for awards and honours at that time. In fact, he was delighted with some of the books I wrote subsequently whose endorsements he facilitated with the Minister, while also helping secure written Forewords by Ministers.
He has also been a guest at our events, including the Annual Spokespersons Communication Awards (SCA) and book presentations. The more recent instance was during the book I unveiled in honour of the most charismatic minister in the immediate past administration, Professor Ali Isa Pantami.
On the other hand, while I know Mrs Nkechi Ali Balogun as the quintessential Woman in PR, going by her activities and accomplishments as Chairperson of the Lagos chapter of NIPR in the past, our paths have equally crossed on several occasions at national and international PR events.
She always has kind words of appreciation for encouraging efforts, presentations and performances at such occasions.I can attest to the fact that both Neliaku and Ali-Balogun are highly creative, result-oriented, widely networked and well-grounded, yet they are distinct personalities with peculiar strengths and senses of purpose.
A Fellow of NIPR, and a Senior Member of the African Public Relations Association (APPRA), Mrs Nkechi Ali-Balogun is the Principal Consultant/CEO of NECCI Limited, a PR firm based in Lagos.
She had previously worked as Head of Corporate Affairs at prominent banks, NEXIM and Equitorial Trust Bank. She holds a first degree in English/Education and a Master’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos.
She also obtained an MBA in Management from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.On his part, Neliaku attended the University of Jos, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Arts in 1989 and thereafter a Master’s degree in Political Economy, and a PhD in Development Studies, both from the University of Abuja.
Having served as Special Assistant to the Ministers of Information, as well as that of Cooperation and Africa Integration, he was later appointed as Senior Special Assistant to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria between 2010 and 2015.
He is currently the Executive Vice Chairman, of Rightangle PR and Executive Secretary/Member of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Prize for Leadership.
While NIPR members, mostly from the Lagos axis, testify to the fact that Nkechi’s track record is steeped in competence, unwavering ethical values, and proven leadership ability, the PR professionals in the Abuja axis have described Neliaku as emotionally intelligent, relationship-driven, skilful in managing different interests and tested in managing power and public assets.
The two candidates have both unveiled their different agendas ahead of the election. While Nkechi unveiled a 7-point Agenda, Neliaku’s promises for taking the NIPR to great heights are anchored on a 9-point Agenda.
In a statement titled, “Let’s Make History Together”, Nkechi outlines her vision for the institute, as she listed her agenda to include: “’ Caderisation’ by strengthening professional cadres to ensure excellence at all levels; organisational renewal, by breathing new life into our institute; a befitting secretariat by providing NIPR with the infrastructure it deserves and increased revenue generation by sustaining and expanding initiatives.”Other pledges she is making to members comprise: “Digitization by embracing technology for efficiency and reach; Improving Chapter Capacity and Collaboration and Global Recognition and Affiliations”.
Similarly, in his agenda, Neliaku promises to work towards the establishment of the first African Public Relations University in Nigeria, having conducted project feasibility and viability studies for the NIPR-owned PR university with the support of the Education Advisory Board, as a finishing school for PR practitioners.
He listed his agenda as follows: “Reposition the National Secretariat for effective administration; enhance membership value and professional development, Ensure digitalisation of the institute’s operations and elevate the institute’s national recognition; empower state chapters for greater viability and sustainability.”
More so Neliaku seeks to: “ensure regulatory compliances and strengthen the rank and status of NIPR Fellows; special projects for sustainable revenue generation; initiate the development of Nigerian Reputation House in Abuja and facilitating the establishment of Africa’s First Public Relations University in Nigeria.”
Both candidates have been assuring their colleagues that they have the reputation to deliver on their campaign promises of making NIPR a beacon of professionalism and excellence.
While I wish my sister, Nkechi Ali-Balogun, and my brother, Ike Neliaku, the very best in today’s AGM and election, I urge them to see the election as a contest among siblings and not war, as this will sustain and improve the relationship not only among them but also among all the members of the perception and reputation management profession.
Yushau A. Shuaib. Author of “A Dozen Tips for Media,” “Writings for the Media,” “Financial Public Relations” and “Award-Winning Crisis Communication Strategies”www.YAShuaib.com, email@example.com