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NPA Boss Highlights Roles Of Media, PR, Politicians In Changing Nigeria’s Narrative

Hadiza Bala Usman, MD, Nigerian Ports Authority

The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman has emphasised the importance of all stakeholders to work together to change the nation’s negative narrative.

She pointed that the media, public relations and politicians have key roles to play to change perception about the country. She made this known at the 2019 Strategic Discourse (a leadership lecture) of the Lagos State Chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) held at Sheraton Lagos Hotel, Lagos recently with the theme: Projecting the Nigerian Narrative: The Role of the Media, PR and Politicians .

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The event was part of activities to mark the 2019 PR week organised by the NIPR Lagos State Chapter. The Chairman of the chapter, Olusegun McMedal said it is imperative for all stakeholders which include practitioners, politicians, media and the citizens to work together to change the narrative.

She stated that the current perception of Nigerians about the country is not what any citizen should have as a thought, rather she called for a change of attitude and positive thinking about the country.

“Imagine a scenario where we allow all Nigerian children think that there is no hope for the country. We would most certainly lose them all to countries with better promises and such brain drain does no country good.  If we were also to let foreigners see our country as that unworthy, unsafe one where anything goes, and nothing works, we would end up being an island, metaphorically speaking. A country that no one wants to travel to or do businesses with. And we can now ask ourselves whether we really aren’t already seeing snapshots of this type of future and if they reflect the kind of future we want for our country,” Usman disclosed.

Furthermore, she explained that the idea of a national narrative involves an all-encompassing ethnically or politically based story that unites a whole nation. Often, a national narrative is based on a widely accepted founding story. These forms of stories give shape to the beliefs, the aspirations and the sense of identity of national groups or nations as a whole.

She therefore pointed that they are positive stories and happenings in the country which media and public relations practitioners can use to sell the country. “The media and communicators should concentrate their efforts on what currently is the integration of Nigeria, in making the people believe in their country and coming to an agreement on what national narrative we want to project to the world. We must have a country before we speak to the world,” she pointed.

However, she stated that power belongs to the people not politicians, that Nigerian politician is not significantly different from the politicians in every other part of the world, citing the popular quote of former French leader and Statesman, Charles de Gaulle, “politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.”

Thereafter, emphasising that “The power behind the throne of democracy in the world is not the politician but the citizens who have been vested with the rights to vote for people and vote them out. But for as long as we do not recognise this power and exercise it judiciously, it would be impossible to define what Nigeria represents to its people and get them to love her.”

To change the narrative, she urged Public Relations and Media practitioner to let the people know that there is no absolutely good or bad politician; and let the people know that they are an essential part of democratic governance and that they must not abdicate their role as a constant check on politicians without which democracy cannot grow.

Adding that they find the thread of unity and promote same across the country; draw people’s attention to the selfishness and hypocrisy of the political elite that promote the ethnic and religious division and use the people as cannon fodders.

Also, constantly remind politicians of the oath that they took and the very important need to deliver a truly united Nigeria.

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