The Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has called on government information managers and image makers across the country to beware of cynics, who are bent on distracting them from performing their duties.

Lai Mohammed was speaking at opening ceremony of the 2017 Annual National Conference/Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) in Ilorin, the Kwara State Capital, which had as theme: “Communicating Values for Development and Sustainability”.

According to him, it is imperative for government perception managers to be aware of naysayers, who are out to distract government and its government spokespersons from performing their duties so that they do not fall prey to their antics.

The Information and Culture Minister, while examining the increasingly tough and almost impossible job of Public Relations Practitioners, lamented that the challenges faced by perception managers have further been exacerbated by the social media.

His Words: “The perception manager today is engaged in an unending war with an opposition that is amorphously defined, an opposition who never sleeps, an opposition that has no rules of engagement, an opposition that has power without responsibility or control, one whose objective is not to inform, educate or provide constructive criticism but to set their own agenda from their own ethnic, religious, ideological and economic perspective, irrespective of what the challenges of government are.

Today’s perception manager, especially at the government level, can be likened to one who has signed a contract, the terms of which he or she is not aware of. As I said earlier, the opponents are not clearly defined. They could be friends today and opponents tomorrow. They are not interested in the vision of the government nor the welfare of the people. They insist on being heard and seen, and the privacy, reputation or integrity of the public official are of no consequence to them”.

Continuing, Lai Mohammed said:“”Today, anyone with a phone and data is a journalist, a blogger, owner of an online publication, an opinion moulder, etc. They invent stories and even spend money to push such phantom stories. Their mantra is to lie, misinform, malign and confuse. And they do all this simply because they can. No regulations, no sanctions. The spokesperson is at their mercy. Regrettably, they have a fanatic followership in the largely uninformed masses, whose experience over the years has primed them not to trust government and public office holders”.

He therefore urged government information managers to remain proactive rather than defensive, saying they must refuse to allow cynics set agenda for them but continue to inform, educate and polish the image of government.

Other dignitaries present at the event were the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, who was represented by the Honourable Commissioner for Information, Mr. Mamud Babatunde Ajeigbe; the NIPR President and Chairman of Council, Dr. Rotimi Oladele; the NIPR Vice-President, Mallam Muktar Sirajo; former Defence Spokesperson, Major General Chris Olukolade, rtd; Vice-Chancellor, Kwara State University, Prof. AbdulRasheed Na’Allah; Acting MD, Bank of Industry, Mr. Waheed Olagunju; and Executive Chairman, Kwara State Inland Revenue Service Board, Dr. Murtala Awodun, among others.

Caleb Nor

Media Assistant to ES