Tinubu elevating public relations practice in Nigeria, By Kehinde Olaosebikan
From the origination of human activities, history is replete with records of innovations, outstanding presentations and achievements by individuals and groups who have attained hitherto impossible feats with their God-given talents, creativity and hard work. In modern times, education, passion, vision, groundwork, courage, perseverance, and ingenuity added to integrity often produce the magic of a first.
The first man to farm, the first man to be educated, the first man to build a house, the first man to make a car, the first man to go to the moon, the first king or queen, first governor, president, chairman or councillor, even the first head of a department, all these firsts are regarded as heroes and celebrated. They are even called legends and immortals. Such is the adulation, recognition and honour given to great people who make a first. Their names are written in gold.
In education, the bedrock of development, Olaudah Equiano, the first Nigerian to be educated in 1847 who is also the first African writer, has become forever synonymous with education. Not only that, Equiano is celebrated yearly by the people of Isseke Kingdom in Ihiala Local Government of Anambra State, where Emmanuel Nnabuife reigns as King. Since his coronation, Igwe Nnabuife has made the celebration a global event.
Hippocrates, the father of medicine who died over 2,400 years ago, is a name that reverberates in medical classes till today because of his firsts in the study and practice of medicine across the globe. And on our soil here in Nigeria, William Davies, who became the first medical doctor in 1858, is a name that must be known by all students of medicine in our universities whether they like it or not.
And in contemporary Nigeria, Prof. Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, Fela Anikulapo’s brother who served as Minister of Health during the reign of military President Ibrahim Babangida, wrote his name in gold as the minister that first significantly enshrined primary healthcare in Nigeria’s medical practice.
Dr Kofoworola Pratt, the first Black person to train at the Nightingale School then based at St. Thomas Hospital, London in 1946, was on duty as the first Black nurse when the National Health Service was launched in 1948. She later became the first Chief Nursing Officer of Nigeria. So also was Mrs Victoria Gowon, the wife of a former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.), a nurse who used her position to elevate the nursing profession in the country to an enviable position that it enjoys till date.
We have them in all professions but for space constraints, permit me to limit it to education and medical practices that affect all of us. In great ways, these firsts contributed significantly to the evolution and growth of their professions that the old and young practitioners are now enjoying, living fulfilled lives, going places and becoming millionaires and billionaires.
Friday, October 19, 2023 became a fresh memorable day in the history of Nigeria as another first was recorded in the professional growth of the country with the elevation of the noble profession of public relations to the highest level of leadership.
President Bola Tinubu, in his well-known characteristic of enabling the best, always putting round pegs in round holes, confirmed the appointment of a public relations officer, Adewale Adeniyi, as the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service. The confirmation came after Adeniyi had proved President Tinubu right that he was truly the best and the most suitable for the job irrespective of his background as a public relations man and not what they call ‘core operations man.’
Adeniyi, within three months in acting capacity, effectively transformed the operations of the service, breaking all the existing records, climaxing in a gargantuan increase of 70 percent in revenue generation by the service. In two months, Wale Adeniyi led the Customs to generate a whopping N686bn, unprecedented in the history of the NCS.
In what is generally described as another master-stroke by Tinubu, Adeniyi was confirmed as the first-ever PR officer to head the service in its 132 years of existence.
Not only that, Adeniyi with the confirmation scored another first as the number one public relations officer to head any military, paramilitary, or security service in Nigeria. Overall in government establishments, parastatals, institutions, and agencies, except in communications-related concerns, Adeniyi is the public relations officer in the topmost position of authority.
And speaking largely on the attainment of any public relations practitioner in Nigeria since 1859 when the practice began in the country, Adeniyi’s accomplishment as the 14th indigenous Comptroller-General of the NCS is the greatest.
With a solid educational background, Bachelor of Science in International Relations obtained at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Master of Arts in Communication Science in Svizzera University, Switzerland, and several awards and medals, Adeniyi has employed the combination of the best human qualities to achieve enhanced honour, elevation and greatness for his profession and his name has gone down in history as the man that took public relations to the top in the most populous Black nation in the world.
This elevation, the progression of Adeniyi and his super effectiveness in the discharge of duties across all sections of the NCS primarily, a public relations officer has changed the trajectory of public relations practice in Nigeria amidst the unnecessary contentions over the role of the profession as a management function and its place in the operations of an organisation. Clearly, public relations is a management function and a fecund integral part of the operations of any organisation. The governments, organisations, including companies achieve progress and make profits only when they have a good image.
Olaosebikan is the CEO of Midas Communications Ltd.