Quite a few people have sought my opinion on this. I have read what is the PR Practitioners’ displeasure and the purported response of the fed ministry of finance. This is not a full response, but a brief comment.
Without mincing words, the government should have gotten a competent Nigerian PR agency involved in the process even if the campaign target was outside Nigeria.
One, it is doubtful if anyone in the min of finance adequately understands what it means and how to engage foreign PR agencies. A Nigerian agency would have consulted for them to help the ministry navigate the road.
Two, the Nigerian agency would also have served the purpose of helping pick the right offshore agency and helped to manage the process and ensuring compliance and effectiveness.
Three, it would have been very good learning for the Nigerian agency and the experience would have been valuable.
Four, globally, most countries first give such briefs to their nationals who then manage the engagement of the foreign agency. This also would have been in line with the requirements of the local content act.
If the ministry continues to argue that it went directly to a European or american agency because the required skills were not locally available, then how does it want to help develop local capacity? This is an area where the Chinese have helped develop the skills of their people. The Chinese would first give such a brief to one of their own which would then line up a competent local agency in the area of engagement.
The Minister of Finance at the start of her tenure did not have any foreign experience and yet took on many key assignments, learning along the way. If what her ministry is doing were to be duplicated, then the fed government would have assigned many of her functions to financial agencies in Europe or America because of her limited international exposure and competence. If today she does a better job, it’s simply because she learned in the job.
The government must support local skills development by a deliberate policy.
By Lolu Akinwunmi
Akinwunmi is the GMD, Prima Garnet, a advertising firm and former APCON chairman.