Spokespersons Summit: Shettima Canvasses Effective Communication In Shaping Societal Narratives

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Vice President of Nigeria, Kashim Shetimma has emphasised the critical role of effective communication in shaping societal narratives in the face of the increasing prevalence of disinformation and propaganda.

He said this while giving his speech as the special guest of honour at the inaugural Spokespersons Summit organised by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and the Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation in Abuja on Tuesday.

In his address titled “Constructive Narrative Amidst the Chaos,” Mr Shettima, who was represented by his spokesperson, Stanley Nkwocha, highlighted the importance of building a positive image and reputation, stressing the profound impact of individuals’ reputations on the conversations surrounding them.

He stated the power wielded by spokespersons in maintaining social order and called for truthful communication to counter falsehoods and targeted agendas.

“Every one of us is as good as his image; this image can be revered or distorted, but that is the essence of image building. The story revolving around each person or entity is derived from the conversations about and surrounding them.

“This reality makes those who speak for them as powerful as the subject they represent. This makes you the most powerful force in the maintenance of social order. So, I am truly honoured to join the gathering of the shapers of the world as we know it.

“In the life of a nation, the power of a single word to stabilise or disrupt cannot be underestimated; therefore, it is crucial to exchange ideas as we share knowledge and as we build relationships, we do so within a framework of order, not chaos.

“This maiden summit of spokespersons arises at a timely intervention in the world where lies and propaganda vie for dominance amidst the complexity of our daily existence.

“Those of us in the public sphere know very well that at some point falling prey to false narratives and targeted agendas is inescapable. These are usually aimed at undermining and misrepresenting one’s ideas or perceptions. The importance of diligent and effective communication is never more evident than when confronted with the deceptive tactics of fake news merchants who dedicate their lives to casting shadows on lofty efforts and aspirations to inform and enlighten the world,” he said.

Speaking on President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to citizen engagement and accurate information dissemination, the VP echoed the call to craft narratives that reshape Nigeria’s story and reinvent society.

He said, “President Bola Tinubu has reassured the nation of his belief in citizen communication and engagement. He believes that the citizens of Nigeria must by right and necessity be informed truthfully, accurately, and promptly. This is the most practical antidote for ways of partisan and sectional agenda promoted by hacks invested in tearing the nation apart.”

He urged participants to navigate the complexities of the evolving media landscape with clarity and responsibility, encouraging active engagement with diverse perspectives to foster dialogue and consensus-building.

The vice president reminded attendees of the importance of inclusivity in the national discourse, urging them to respect differing viewpoints and embrace the diversity of perspectives that enrich the fabric of Nigerian society.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the President of NIPR, Ike Neliaku, rallied for a concerted effort towards non-violent communication in Nigeria.

He stressed the imperative of assembling top-tier experts from both domestic and international spheres, particularly those with firsthand experience as spokespersons who have weathered intense pressure.

Neliaku’s call to action comes at a critical juncture, as Nigeria grapples with multifaceted challenges that demand clarity and cohesion in messaging.

He underscored the detrimental consequences of individuals assuming roles beyond their capabilities, cautioning against the ensuing chaos and discord.

Emphasising the profound impact of words on shaping the nation’s collective consciousness, Mr. Neliaku articulated the NIPR’s core mission: to nurture the growth and development of Nigeria. His impassioned plea for spokespersons to recognise their role as stewards of the nation’s narrative underscores the pivotal role of effective communication in steering the country towards progress.

The event witness many dignitaries in attendance such as the Deputy Governor of Kwara State, Kayode Alabi, Chief Executive Officer, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, United States Embassy Spokesperson, Robert Gabor, Senate Committee Chairman on Open Market, Osita Izunaso, and Former Director-General, Nigerian Television Authority, Tonnie Iredia, who was the keynote speaker.

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