A keynote address delivered by Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, Ag Managing Director Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, on the occasion of the 43rd Annual General Meeting of Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), at Le Meridien Ibom Hotel & Golf Report, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on Friday, May 20th, 2016
Honourable Minister for Information,
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
My fellow colleagues in the field of marketing and communications
It is my pleasure to be here in the midst of what we may call Nigeria’s ‘creative cabal’, a collective of perhaps the best creative minds with uncanny abilities to win the hearts and minds of many in favour of a cause. I am particularly honoured to be Keynote Speaker on this particular occasion.
In my years of practice in the sphere of information and communications, I have had the opportunity of working with some very brilliant minds, who have consistently been able to produce impressive results even sometimes from the most limited of resources; a feat that convinces me beyond any reasonable doubt that our collective potential is sufficient to transform the course of our immediate environment and the country at large for the better.
First of all, I duly recognize the role of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) in the Communications space, particularly in the area of maintaining a very appreciable level of ethics of practice, which I believe is the precursor of the current sanity existing in the advertising landscape in Nigeria. I’m also convinced that this can be translated to a broader spectrum, which could usher in a whole new era in communications in our country as a whole.
Most of us recall the popular parlance “Good people, great nation”, a phraseology coined with good intentions but the preceding hype having superseded the process of execution itself points to the principle that there is no merit in good intentions unless they have first be instilled into the system. Hence in going forward, I would like to stress that in view of the “fantastically altered” perception about our great nation, there isn’t a better time to collectively bring to the fore strategies towards adequately using Communications as a tool towards Nation building and the role of Government.
The Role of AAAN in communication
There are two sides at least of this discourse that should be of interest to this audience. The first and really quite importantly is the role of yourselves. Practitioners and brand experts in enhancing government communication and indeed in telling the nation’s story. If not directly as Public Relations and brand consultants to politicians while they prepare for elections or sitting governments, then, indirectly through advertising, you are oftentimes beckoned on to tell the Nigerian story in its many shades.
As advertising practitioners and communications experts, our vocation is to champion the call to utilizing all available channels of communication to adequately project our joint image. I believe the diversity of experiences I’ve been graced with both in the private and the public sector, have the element of focused communication and determined brand building as the only ways I see to project our essence in a great light. The biggest brands understand how communication works best and naturally project the things that hold the people together most. Be it sports, music, tribes or arts and culture, the positives must be creatively and tactically portrayed. Imagine even brands like Kanye West that have taken their model from Cassius Clay, one that utilizes ‘bragging rights’ to sell itself to another level and picture the power of any form of consistency itself can make a brand world famous.
The role of government in development communication
The second side to this discourse that also affects you although less directly is the role of government itself in communication for development.
Providing citizens with information on priorities, programmes and activities is a vital government function which underpins state-society relations. Governments in the developed world are acutely aware of the need to communicate effectively both to influence public opinion and maintain their legitimacy, and often construct elaborate structures of press offices, and information departments or ministries to perform the communication function. But in many developing countries, governments lack communication capacity, and the development of the communication function is hampered by a combination of weak incentives (e.g. no culture of disclosure), lack of professional training and communication infrastructure, and lack of supportive legal framework (e.g. access to information laws). Institutional culture often plays an important role in shaping a government’s approach to communication, but changing institutional culture takes time.
How does government communication capacity contribute to good governance? What are the communication functions of government, and how can they be developed? The foregoing highlight the importance of addressing incentives for government communication, the role of ethics, and the need to develop an appropriate enabling environment.
I have isolated three core terms I shall be dealing with, and these are Communication, Development and Government. They are primary and have so been designated.
Those terms are not novel to organisers of this AGM as I’m sure they deal with them often. But for me to be able to tie my knots at the end of the rope, permit me do a bit expression of their basic meaning.