5 December 2017

Nigeria: Effective PR to Sustainable Foreign-Direct Investment

Speakers at the 17th yearly NECCI PR Roundtable held in Lagos have harped on the need for Nigeria to address its current perception challenges that have negatively impacted its potential, as a capital and investment destination. They also observed that poor communication of the nation's own perspectives on global issues is responsible for the negative perception that has been the bane of foreign-direct investment to the country.

They, therefore, advised that the country must deploy effective public relations if it intends to make a success of its current quest to drive sustainable foreign investment by engaging public relations strategies to effectively create positive investment ambience that would oil the value chain from production to consumption and manage conversations that define the road to attracting sustainable foreign-direct investment.

The event attracted participants and speakers from across the public and private sectors of the economy, including the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by Senior Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment Programme, Ismail Ahmed, former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, President, Africa Public Relations Association, Mr. Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, President, Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria, John Ehiguese, Mr. Olufemi Awoyemi, Managing Director, Proshare Limited, Mr. Ade Bajomo, Executive Director, Nigeria Stock Exchange, Mr. Sola Adebawo. Others were Manager, Communications Policy, Government & Public Affairs, Chevron, Ibim Semenitari, Former Acting Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Niger Delta Development Commission, Mark Anthony Chidolue Dike, former Director of Tax Policy, FIRS, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry, Trade and Investment among many others.

The discussants noted that the investment potentials of Nigeria was the most potent in the world, but that corruption, insecurity, lack of transparency and the ease of doing business are major threats. They said objectives of all communications about the country must be properly articulated with details that enable understanding, buy-in and engagement.

"Conversations must be as consistent as it should be dynamic. Running an 'Open government' will enable better content creation and engagement by those saddled to market the country and target prospective investors," they advised.

The media was also urged to strive to positively influence conversations about Nigeria through deliberate focus on positive issues, and the need for a paradigm shift to reposition the country from its present 'goodwill economic regime,' where government spoon-feeds the rest of the economy as an imperative.

One of the speakers, Ibim Semenitari, while presenting her paper on Reputation Management in a Volatile Environment, partly quoted Prof. Pat Utomi by saying, "Part of the reason many firms do not last is the challenge of procuring and sustaining goodwill... Unfortunately in many emerging economies, reputation management is not thought of as part of building the original model but an after-thought when the pocket gets deep process."

Participants further emphasised the need for financial service industries to provide stronger support for businesses, especially local investment portfolios. They pointed out that government must structure monetary policy issues to ensure they capture the critical demographic, which is the household, the need to create the enabling policy framework, which is fundamental to attracting and sustaining investment; the need for transparency in information dissemination and other critical aspects of a nation's global position and the need for transparency on fiscal issues, which the discussants agreed was important in managing perception of government's activities by both local and foreign targets for investments.

Convener of the NECCI PR Roundtable, Mrs. Nkechi Ali-Balogun, described the outcome of the roundtable as fruitful and insightful, and stated that she was glad that the roundtable was able to recommend workable ways of attracting investors to Nigeria whilst also highlighting the role of public relations practitioners, the role of investors and the role of government.

According to her, "We chose the theme of this year's roundtable because for us at NECCIPR, investor relations is critical to managing relationships between businesses and investors. It fosters a window for long distance investors to make decisions for investments outside their shores. I believe that sustained investor relations management will enable Nigeria adopt global best practices to position the country, as safe and potent capital destinations. Like we noted during the deliberations, government has a role in attracting investment but the PR industry has its role of creating the right image to attract those investments."

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