Hon. Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris Malagi
Hon. Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris Malagi

Esteemed guests, communication experts, scholars, enthusiasts, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen. It is my pleasure to join the President of NIPR to welcome you all to this maiden National Spokespersons Summit and Awards, organised by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) in collaboration with my Ministry.

This summit is a pivotal event aimed at transforming the landscape of communication in Nigeria. The theme of the summit, “Change Narrative, Change Society,” resonates deeply with the challenges facing us as a people. Nigeria, a diversely blessed and vibrant country, grapples with the need to create a cohesive national identity; one that transcends ethnicity, religion, and political affiliations. Crafting a compelling national narrative becomes paramount as we strive to live up to our vast potential.

I am glad to note that this summit brings together spokespersons from both the public and private sectors, spanning national and sub-national levels. As communication professionals, you must be aware that you play a crucial role in shaping perceptions, disseminating accurate information, and fostering trust. Indeed, the nation’s peace, stability, growth, and development can only be attained by how we communicate.

As we gather here, we must recognize the critical role that effective communication plays in shaping narratives, building trust, and fostering understanding. Whether we are seasoned PR professionals, budding communicators, or someone curious about the power of words, this Summit provides a platform for growth, learning, networking, and collaboration.

As we embark on this workshop journey, let us remember that communication is not just about words. It’s about impact. Our world is in a constant state of flux. Technology, globalization, and evolving societal norms have transformed the way we communicate.

Just two decades ago, social media was nonexistent, and reaching our audience required a well-connected contacts book. Today, we grapple with information overload, striving to tailor messages to the right people at the right time.

Let us delve into the essence of this summit and its significance. As communicators, we face both challenges and opportunities. With information overload, our audiences are bombarded with content. Cutting through the noise requires creativity, precision, and relevance.

The future of communication points towards technology, but for technology to make a meaningful impact, it must be anchored on trust. Trust remains a critical element in building relationships; be it at personal, group, and even community levels. As spokespersons, we need to make conscious efforts to build trust and restore hope wherever we are. Building and maintaining trust must be a collective responsibility. For trust to have value, it must be anchored on authenticity, transparency, and consistency.

The current trend of communication is driven by technology. While technology allows us to personalize messages like never before, collaboration enables us to build consensus among colleagues, stakeholders, and experts.

I expect that at the end of this Summit, the capacities of spokespersons will be strengthened. It will also equip the participants with the skills needed to craft compelling narratives for national development. To meet this expectation, I am happy to let you know that, experienced and successful resource persons, have been invited from within and outside Nigeria to facilitate different sessions at the summit.

I do believe that the summit would facilitate the emergence of a national consensus for effective communication, based on a collective narrative of our shared values, regardless of our backgrounds.

In the Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation, we are on the verge of unveiling the Nigeria Values Charter, which embodies a social contract between the country and its citizens and will serve as a blueprint and policy for a national value system, defining us as Nigerians and reinforcing our personality as citizens.

The new policy, which will be launched this year by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, consists of the Nigerian Promise and the Citizen Codes, which have seven pillars each. The government intends to incorporate these values into formal, informal, and vocational educational policies to ensure that they are not only imbibed but engrained in the minds of our citizens.

The unique thing about this Values Charter is that it is a Social Contract between the government and the citizens and it contains Seven Core Obligations of the Nigerian state to its citizens as well as Seven Commitments of the citizens towards their country. The premise of the Values Charter is that the government as represented by elected and appointed representatives must fulfill some basic non-negotiable promises, in return for fundamental commitments from the citizens. This will ensure the fulfillment of the Social contract between the government and the citizens.

It is equally heartwarming to note that the bold economic reforms being implemented by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is recording incremental successes across various facets of our economy, reflecting our commitment to addressing critical issues such as inflation, foreign exchange stability, attracting Foreign Direct Investment, growth in our foreign reserves, post fuel subsidy interventions among other indices of economic development.

I am delighted that the summit will culminate in awards later tomorrow, to recognise and celebrate outstanding spokespersons for their dedication, resilience, and commitment to standards and virtues that have contributed significantly to the nation’s development and progress.

I would like to thank the Vice President for finding the time to be with us and accepting to open the Summit. I also immensely thank the Chairman of the Nigerian Governor’s Forum and the Governor of Kwara State, for accepting to chair the maiden edition of the Spokespersons Summit.

As we settle down to the business of this Summit, let us continue to be givers of hope to our respective communities. Our narratives should reflect hope, unity, and progress.

May our voices resonate, our stories inspire, and our commitment to excellence endure.