The Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN), the umbrella body of certified Public Relations firms in Nigeria, has condemned the disclosure by the All Progressives Congress (APC) that it had engaged the services of AKPD Message and Media, a United States-based Public Relations and Public Affairs Consultancy firm, to manage the party’s campaign for the 2015 general elections.
In a press statement jointly signed by the association’s President, Chido Nwakanma and Publicity Secretary, Israel Jaiye Opayemi, PRCAN faulted the move on the grounds of extant Nigerian laws, respect for Nigerian professionals and job creation.
PRCAN stated,”It is dumbfounding that a political party that positions itself as progressive and actuated by a desire to reposition Nigeria would by its actions show its preference for foreign professionals against tried and tested practitioners at home, thereby evincing a contrary desire to promote local unemployment.
“Political communication is country specific and follows from the dictum that all politics is local. Local issues will determine the direction of the pendulum in the next elections. Certified local professionals who live and do business in the country are in the best position to understand the issues, including the local nuances and peculiarities of our media.”
PRCAN said it would no longer be quiet in the face of disregard for Nigerian professionals and the enabling law for communication practice in Nigeria. “PRCAN gives notice to APC and other political parties of its resolve to ensure a stop to the practice of bringing in foreign communication firms to handle briefs that Nigerian agencies are qualified to manage. Enough is enough”, it stated.
The body of public relations consulting firms said the position of APC runs contrary to Nigerian law and history of successful political communication by Nigerian firms over the years.
It then reiterated the legal position. “Nigerian law is very clear. Only persons certified by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations can practise public relations in Nigeria. Only persons certified by the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria can similarly offer advertising counsel. ByeLaw No 3 of NIPR Act 16 of 1990 further requires certification for consulting firms who wish to offer public relations service in the country.”
PRCAN raised a number of posers for APC, among which are, “What message is this political party sending to Nigerians? Is this foreign-is-better mentality what it would bring to governance? Would it also hire American lawyers or Queen’s Counsels from England to handle pre- or post-election petitions?
PRCAN called on distinguished leaders of the APC who have displayed profound respect for Nigerian professionals such as its National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos State and Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State to speak up on this matter and return the APC to the path of honour and respect for Nigerian professionals.
APC had announced the engagement of prominent international political consultants, AKPD Message and Media to boost its electoral chances in the upcoming elections. According to Alhaji Mohammed, the party engaged the services of the Chicago based firm which he said was best known for its lead role in President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.
The APC spokesman claimed that the firm also worked with key Democratic Party candidates throughout the United States and has a strong reputation for supporting leading populist movements across the globe, citing its track record of success in political climates akin to Nigeria’s such as Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana to justify the party’s decision.