By Michael Eboh
The Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, weekend, said it has suspended all its programmes scheduled to hold between March and April 2020, following efforts by the Federal Government to tackle the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.
In a statement in Abuja, President and Chairman of the Governing Council of the NIPR, Mr. Mukhtar Sirajo, also commended the Federal Government and other state governments for their efforts at taking proactive steps towards handing the pandemic in the country.
He maintained that the new strategy of the government in providing periodic updates on the response actions would help counter rumours, assuage fears and build public confidence.
However, he said, “We observe that the quest for a solution to this problem should go beyond saddling political office holders, rather than professional and technical hands, with the responsibility of driving the process, even as we suggest that the strategic communication and information management aspect of the process, should also be improved upon.
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He further explained that the decision of the NIPR to suspend its forthcoming programmes was in conformity with the steps of the government aimed at preventing the spread of the virus, as well as to refrain from jeopardizing the health and safety of its staff, members and participants at the programmes.
He said, “The health challenge that the entire world has been forced to grapple with is by the day becoming a reality beyond denial. The rate at which the COVID-19 (Corona Virus) is spreading around the world is alarming, more so now that the number of those infected in Nigeria seems to be steadily rising.
“The NIPR calendar for the year is replete with many crowd-pulling activities. The most major of which is the Annual General Meeting (AGM) slated for Bauchi in the middle of April. However, given the reality on ground as well as measures being taken by various governments across the globe (ncluding Nigeria) to arrest the spread of the disease as well as safeguard the wellbeing of their various peoples.
“The Institute, bearing in mind the need to be proactive and refrain from taking any step(s) that would not only put the welfare of our colleagues in jeopardy, but also portray us as being out of sync, with reality, has decided to put on hold, for the time being, all public programmes.
“This, therefore, means that the Annual General Meeting slated for Bauchi on the 15th of April will no longer hold as scheduled. This also applies to the Induction Programme slated for Abuja on the 27th of March; the Sam Epelle Memorial lecture scheduled for Port Harcourt on the 7th of April; the MasterClass programme also slated for Port Harcourt from 6th to 8th of April as well as all Mandatory Continuing Professional Development Programmes (MCPD).
“State Chapters are also advised to key into this by suspending similar activities at their level, including monthly general meetings. As we remain hopeful of the containment of the scourge, we will continue to monitor developments with a view to fixing new dates for the programmes as soon as situation permits.”