By Emmanuel Mogbede
The Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) says it has concluded plans to organise a Citizens Summit on National Integration, Peace and Security in November.
The President of the institute, Malam Mukhtar Sirajo, said this when he paid a courtesy visit to the Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr Buki Ponle.
“The NIPR has decided to convene a citizens summit on national integration, peace and security and we are seeking NAN’s support knowing the role it can play in this regards.
“The summit will bring all segments of the Nigerian society together to discuss any issue that will take us to the root of our problems and get them dealt with.
“Much as we will want to do it, it is such a big task that the institute alone cannot do it, it requires the support and buying in of Nigerians across board.
“We cannot deceive ourselves into believing that we can do it alone, before we came this far, we had been consulting with all segments of the Nigerian society,’’ Sirajo said.
Those consulted, he said, included trade unions, professional associations, socio-cultural groups, religious associations, government as well as civil society organisations among others.
He said the greatest take way from the interractions with some members of the various social-cultural groups was that in spite of their frustration, they all love the country and believe in its unity.
The NIPR president said the institute had received the support of 47 associations, including some in the Diaspora.
He also said the summit would provide a neutral platform for Nigerians to come together and talk, adding that it would adopt a bottom to top approach.
“We are starting from the state level with a little talk show to have a perspective of what they think the issues of the country are and how they could be addressed.
“From there, we will get to the zonal dialogue and then the national summit which we hope will hold before the end of November this year,’’ he said.
Sirajo hinged the country
s current situation on intolerance, lack of trust and breakdown of effective communication at some points in its history.s support.
“At a time in this country, once you have the same chemistry with someone, where you come from does not really matter.
“Those things actually made us tick, but along the line, something snapped and we now look at one another with suspicion and mistrust.
“ This was probably because we didn’t think it was anything serious when it started, we allowed it to fester, and now the trust gap has widened because no serious effort was made to nip it in the bud.
“Now the component units in the country do not trust one another as we ask questions that were not asked in the past,’’ he said.
He, however, maintained that addressing the country’s challenges is not impossible.
“All we need to do is to have some elements of retrospection and retrace our steps, asking the necessary and difficult questions to know where we missed it.
“We believe we missed it because we allowed effective and positive communication to break down along the line.
“As communicators and relationship minders, we believe that there is no problem that communication cannot resolve.
“We believe that if we get it right from communication as a starting point, we would have gone a long way in trying to bring the country back to the path of sanity,’’ he said.
Ponle, in his response, commended the leadership of the institute and assured it of the agency
He said NAN remains committed to positive reportage, development communication and solutions journalism.
“We present the story as it is all in the bid to promote the growth and development of our country and our continent at large.
“Since we started in 1978, we have never deviated from that principle of responsible journalism; everything is about relationships, not just from your end but all over the country,’’ he said.
He said it was the responsibility of all Nigerians to contribute to the country`s development through positive relationships, stressing that the institute should always portray the country in good light. (NAN)