RETREAT ON THE MEDIA/PUBLIC RELATIONS AND PUBLIC SPEAKING TECHNIQUES
As part of its preparations towards the 2019 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) organized a two-day Retreat on “Media/Public Relations and Public Speaking” for officers who interface on behalf of the Commission with the Media. The retreat held between June 29th and 30th 2018 at Intercontinental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, and with technical assistance from the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) under the European Union funded Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) programme.
The retreat was aimed at building the capacity of INEC management staff on public speaking and effective communication with the media as well as boost public confidence, trust and perception in the build up to the 2019 general elections.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu in his opening remarks noted that effective communications were strategic to the success of 2019 general elections as this will address the issues of distortion, pitfalls and mis-representation of information by the media as the Commission moves towards the 2019 general elections.
In a goodwill remark, the Project Director, European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), Mr. David Notre, represented by Mr. Rudolf Elbling, Project Coordinator said it was also important for all media organizations to have at their disposal, adequate information on the processes and procedures of the Commission at all time. Mr. Notre maintained that such effort would give room for fair and effective media coverage of the electoral process.
Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary to the Honourable INEC Chairman said the Retreat was intended to, among other things, take the participants through the techniques of engaging productively with the media to achieve the Commission’s goals. It sought to acquaint participants with the importance of public relations and how they could apply the tools to achieve specific objectives. He added that participants at the end of the workshop will be expected to be able to partner effectively with the media on issues related to the 2019 general elections. He said the media practitioners, experienced public relations and communication experts invited to the workshop will share global best practices and their respective experiences with participants.
Mr Seun Okinbaloye of Channels Television anchored a mock interview session with some participants to simulate the takeaways from the retreat. He drilled the interviewees on their designated responsibilities and assignments.
The retreat on media/public relations technique and public speaking is the first of its kind to be organized by INEC that seeks to equip the top functionaries of INEC with the necessary skills to engage the media which will become more frequent as the 2019 Elections approaches. It is expected that the skills gained at the retreat will help INEC to adequately and effectively communicate with the media and cope with some of the unavoidable bad press that will occur before, during and after the elections.
Participants at the workshop were drawn from the top echelon of the Commission including, The INEC Chairman, National Commissioners, Resident Electoral Commissioners, Technical Team of INEC Chairman, Selected Administrative Secretaries, Seven Directors at the Headquarters.
Resource persons that made presentations at the workshop included: Dr. Rotimi Oladele, Immediate Past President, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Mr. Tony Akiotu, Group Managing Director, African International Television, Mrs. Funke Egbemode, President, Nigerian Guild of Editors, Dr. Mansur Liman, Director General, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Prof. Abigail Ogwessy-Ndisika, Dept of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, CPS to the INEC Chairman Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi and Mrs Grace Onuche.