ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT NIGERIAN INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS, MALAM MUKHTAR ZUBAIRU SIRAJO, FNIPR ON THE OCCASION OF PRESENTATION OF THE CITIZENS SUMMIT REPORT,
TUESDAY 18TH JULY, 2023
AT NATIONAL PRESS CENTR, RADIO HOUSE, ABUJA
On behalf of the Council of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), the Partners of the Citizens Summit, including those who are not able to join us
, and the entire members of NIPR family, I wish to state that it is indeed a moment of great joy for me to receive the final report of the Citizens Summit and to present same to the public.
2. As we may recall, the Citizens Summit, was borne out of an objective assessment of the state of the nation, analysis of findings from credible sources on certain challenges confronting our country Nigeria, and a clear conviction that Nigerian Citizens, at home and abroad were yearning for a platform that would offer them the opportunity to not only peacefully ventilate their concerns, but also contribute to the dialogue on nation building and proffer realistic solutions.
3. Our situational analysis revealed among other issues that all was not well with the state of affairs in the land. While there was loss of hope among the youth, the trust gap between the people and state institutions was widening fast; social tension mounted across the land and violent aspirations and agitations threatened the very foundation of our national existence.
4. It became apparent that there was an urgent need for a new approach to consensus building among citizens and between citizens and the leadership. There was also the need to widen the space for inclusion and participation in national conversation and foster mutual understanding among the various segments of the country.
5. It was therefore against this background and in furtherance of its mandate that the leadership of the Institute felt that we could no longer continue to fold our arms and watch the situation deteriorate further. Consequently, we decided to take the bold step and with the immense support of our partners, organized the summit for a robust citizens’ engagement with a view to evolving implementable solutions to address those identified national issues. Looking back, I feel satisfied that our modest efforts indeed helped to a reasonable extent to douse the high tension in the land. Now that conversation has been reopened, we must move further to rebuild trust.
6. The journey of the summit
7. In line with the focus of the summit, several thematic areas were identified for discussion covering the youth, women, security, education, economy, industry, foreign investment, national reputation, inclusive governance, Nigeria in a globalized economy among other key national issues. After exhaustive syndicate deliberations, solutions and recommendations were proffered towards addressing the identified national challenges.
8. I am therefore pleased to announce that this Report has collated those laudable contributions of Nigerian Citizens during the summit for implementable policy interventions by the governments at various levels, relevant private sector players and other stakeholders.
9. It is our hope that all concerned will muster the needed courage, will and resources to ensure that the recommendations of this report are translated into concrete actions.
10. It is also our hope that as the new administration in the country settles down with the business of governance, it will find this report useful, especially in policy formulation in the areas that the summit deliberated upon and made recommendations accordingly.
11. Let me therefore use this opportunity to congratulate all the elected political office holders at the various levels of the government: The President, the Vice President, the President of the Senate and the Senators; the Speaker and Members of House of Representatives; the Governors, Speakers and Members of the State Houses of Assembly; as well as all the political appointees so far at the federal and state levels.
12. There is no doubt that our nation is currently being confronted with some serious challenges at various levels and dimensions which the new administrations at both states and federal levels have inherited.
13. We are particularly happy to note that some of the issues raised at the Summit and contained in this report are already being addressed - such as the protracted fuel subsidy debacle and unification of foreign exchange rate windows. The citizens eagerly look forward to reaping the fruits of these policies in no distant future. However, we hope that Government will quicken the process of putting in place the needed measures, to cushion the impact of the new petroleum products policy, especially in the area of public transportation for the citizens.
14. The issue of insecurity, remains critical to the growth, development and survival of our nation. We pray that the new service chiefs will surpass expectations in delivering effective and dynamic security to the nation.
15. We are delighted to note that the President, His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR has begun the process consensus building and reconciliation at certain level. We commend the recognition and understanding of the Federal Government that this is a major area of priority and appreciate its efforts so far in that important direction. However, the NIPR strongly recommends that these engagements should be professionally coordinated and managed to ensure that the outcome meets the desired results. As perception and reputation managers, we clearly understand the dynamics that being a very sensitive matter, the process could possibly backfire, if the professional expertise required is not properly deployed.
16. The NIPR and its partners are therefore making ourselves available to work with the Federal Government in managing these important engagements to ensure credible and sustainable outcomes. We are also extending our willingness for collaboration with States and Local Governments, as well as other interested stakeholders and development partners in nation building.
17. One of the flash points that generated tension and trust deficit in the recent time, is on distribution of resources and appointments into political offices. We commend the Federal Government in the relatively equitable appointment of Service Chiefs and encourage the Administration to do more. This is one sure way to not only restore a sense of belonging to all citizens, but to equally foster national integration.
18. We will like to encourage Governments at the state levels to equally key into this process of inclusion as a sustainable way of building unity and cohesion at state and community levels.
19. As a new dispensation dawns on the nation, we must all join hands with governments at all levels to build a strong, united and prosperous country. As citizens, in our respective spheres of influence and callings, we must rekindle the flame of patriotism; be alive to our civic obligations; respect one another; and practice peaceful co-existence wherever we find ourselves. We have a responsibility to encourage one another, beginning with members of our families, to always toe the path that strengthens our relationships and brotherhood. As a people joined together by love and faith in our nationhood, our greatness could only be guaranteed by unity genuinely derived though fairness, equity and justice.
20. Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I will like to use this opportunity to express the immense thanks of the NIPR family worldwide, to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR for honouring our profession by appointing one of our own, our Vice President, Mr Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, MFR, fnipr as Ag. Comptroller General of Customs. Having worked with Mr Adeniyi for the past decade, initially as a colleague on the Council and subsequently as my Vice President, I know that Mr. President got this appointment very right. I also congratulate the Nigeria Customs Service for the good fortune of having this decent man and a thoroughbred professional as its head. We will work with Wale, to ensure that he transforms the Nigeria Customs Service to a national reputation icon and a global brand. We therefore, look earnestly forward to his early confirmation.
Let me at this juncture pay my respects to the report writing committee headed by Professor Andrew Haruna for the painstaking efforts put in preparing and presenting this very important report that we hope will lead to the process of changing our dear country for good. **** Gratitude to God for Gombe meeting
This address address would be unfair if it fails to acknowledge the tireless efforts of the committee that midwifed the Citizens’ Summit and has continued to nurture the post summit activities to ensure a smooth sail and a safe berth. I seize this opportunity therefore, to pay tribute to the National Planning Committee for the Citizen’s Summit under the leadership of Dr Ike Neliaku, for packaging a very memorable and successful programme that not just this generation, but upcoming generations of Nigerians will derive immense benefits from.
21. As I conclude, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, let me reaffirm our belief in the capacity of Nigeria to succeed and overcome its current challenges, hence the need for all Nigerians to join hands with the government in rebuilding trust, in strengthening our unity, in rebuilding the peace, in ensuring our security, in stimulating the economy and in healing the wounds of the past.
22. It is therefore my honour and privilege to formally present the Citizens Summit Report tagged: Rebooting Nigeria 2.0,first to our Partners, then the Citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Report will also be presented to Governments at all levels and other stakeholders. The NIPR will continue to work very hard, with its Partners and Citizens, to ensure that the contents of the Report are duly implemented across board. Please continue to pray for us for more grace and greater favour.
Long live Nigerian Institute of Public Relations and Partners.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Thank you very much.