By Zainab Ejiro Owhoka
The Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN), the umbrella body of professional of 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 Nwankanma and Publicity Secretary, Israel Jaiye Opayemi, PRCAN said: “We received with utter shock the news that the All Progressive Congress has contracted a foreign Public Relations firm to manage its campaign.
PRCAN wonders why a party that positions itself as progressive with the interest of Nigerians at heart will ignore Nigerian professionals and give such a sensitive assignment to a foreign consultancy when there are the best breeds of public relations registered with PRCAN and under the relevant Nigerian law that can competently handle such an assignment.”
PRCAN reminded APC of the popular mantra and its inherent truth that, “all politics is local.” It stated further: “There are local issues that will determine the direction of the pendulum in the next elections. These issues can only be best understood by local professionals who live and do business here. The various Nigerian publics have their own local nuances and peculiarities that cannot be easily and expressly understood by any foreigner in just a few months before the elections.”
PRCAN raised a number of posers for APC, among which are, “for a party that prides itself as the government in waiting to act in this manner, is this not a hint of the disdain the party will have for Nigerians when it indeed gets into power? Is this action reflective of the penchant of our leaders for everything foreign and their psychological complex to always cringe before foreigners? Will APC also contract a foreign audit firm to audit the account of its interim executives ahead of its convention in June? Will the APC engage the services of American lawyers or British Queen’s Counsels for post elections litigations that may arise? Why will an interim executive of the APC that is scheduled to leave office in June hurriedly commit the entire party to a consultancy contract that will its destiny?
PRCAN also said it would formally notify the United States Embassy that there is a law governing the practice of public relations in Nigeria and the Embassy should therefore advise American public relations professionals willing to practice in Nigeria that they risk being arrested as PRCAN would work with the office of the Inspector-General of Police to enforce the law.
PRCAN called on the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) to investigate the investiture of the APC’s interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed as a fellow of the NIPR as the latest action of his party is unbecoming of a true member of the professional circle. “We are indeed miffed that Alhaji Mohammed, a fellow of the NIPR could announce this outrageous and nauseating decision of the APC with pride,” the association said.
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, SAN, 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.