Reinvent Nigeria’s Story With Truthful Narratives, Shettima Charges Spokespersons

Nigeria’s Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima @officialSKSM, on Tuesday left public relations professionals in the country with a task to serve as guardians of truth and national integration through effective communication in the face of a growing threat by purveyors of disinformation.

The Vice President who spoke 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 emphasized 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.

VP Shettima 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.”

Delivering the Vice President’s address, Nkwocha stressed the immense responsibility spokespersons hold as the voice of their “organizations or principals, representing their values, visions, missions, and aspirations to the public.”

Cautioning against the threat of misinformation, Senator Shettima 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 Ahmed 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.”

VP 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.”

In his remarks, the Minister of Information and National Orientation @FMINONigeria, Alhaji Mohammed Idris @HMMohammedIdris, emphasized the pivotal role effective communication plays in shaping perceptions and fostering trust.

“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,” the Minister stated, adding that “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 is 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.”

Dignitaries at the opening ceremony of the summit include Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State represented by the Deputy Governor, Kayode Alabi; Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohaneye; Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Adewale Adeniyi; Chairman, Senate Committee on Capital Market and Institutions, Senator Osita Izunaso, and Chairman, Nigeria-Australia Group, and member representing Mayo-Belwa/Jada/Ganye/Toungo federal constituency, Hon. Muhammad Inuwa Bassi.

Others were Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa; former Niger State Governor, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu; Chairman of Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON), Salihu Abdulhamid Dembos, former Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Prof Tonnie Iredia, and Public Diplomacy Counselor to the United States of America’s Mission in Nigeria, Robert Gabor, among several others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *