1.1. BACKGROUND TO THE PROBLEM
Public Relations is as old as creation. But organized Public Relations can be said to have started seriously in the United States in 1900 when the first publicity outfit was founded by George Michaelis.
However, Ivy Ledbetter Lee has the credit of pioneering Public Relations in the U.S. In Britain, organized Public Relations was associated with Sir Stephen Talents in 1926.(Lloyd;1970)
Back home in Nigeria, we experienced the waves of Public Relations in late 1940 during the World War II. Public Relations started in Nigeria from the Information Office established in Lagos to disseminate information about the war. The office was later renamed Public Relations Office in 1944. In the Private sector ,the first organization to establish a PR department was the United African company, popularly known as the UAC, the unit was called the information department in 1949.The Nigerian railway corporation also established its own PR unit in 1956,also the Shell petroleum development company then known as BP created its own in 1969.
Other British firms also established their own Public Relations Units saddled with all kinds of duties – Publicity, Propaganda and Public Relations,(Osuji,1990) . Because PR practices in the country from inception had an amorphous structure, all kinds of people were attracted and they paraded themselves as Public Relations Practitioners not minding their lack of experience and knowledge of what Public Relations is all about.
Dr. Sam Epelle, Nigeria’s one-time Director of information in order to silent these abusers of Public Relations, spearheaded the plan to set up the Public Relations Association of Nigeria (PRAN). As a result of PRAN”s efforts, some Nigerians who became interested in Public Relations joined the British Institute of Public Relations overseas while others travelled overseas to study Public Relations formally. But because of the few number of qualified practitioners and lack of training facilities within the country, employers of labour continued to employ all comers. This situation was contrary to Herbert Lloyd (1970:266) admonition that anyone who wants to practice Public Relations must be prepared to work hard, study hard and make the best of his natural talents.
The quackery problem persisted. The NIPR (former PRAN) under the leadership of Bob Ogbuagu, fought spiritedly against the problem and even presented a draft NIPR BILL (to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Edwin Ume-Ezeoke and the Senate President Dr. Joseph Wayas in 1985. They both promised to look into the issue. However, this was not to be, as the military intervention of 1983 frustrated the process.(Osuji,1990)
From 1984 when Sir. Alex Akinyele became NIPR President the Institute also fought relentlessly for the promulgation of a Decree to keep impostors at bay. This did not materialise.
However, on the 1st June 1990, the Federal Government officially recognised the Institute as a professional body through the promulgation of Decree 16 of 1990. With this legal backing there is now a controlled access for new entrants into the profession. This was achieved when Mazi Mike Okereke was the president of NIPR (Nwosu, 1996; Nwosu, 2005)
1.2 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM
The practice of Public Relations has always suffered from lack of appreciation from the members of publics. Therefore many people have wrong notion about the functions of Public Relations practitioners. Some confuse them with advertising or marketing practitioners. Others see them as liars’, propagandists and apologist. There features cannot however be completely ruled out because of the infiltration of unqualified persons into the profession.
In the attempts by qualified practitioners to check the activities of impostors and make profession such as law, medicine and so on, the Institute sought for and got legal backing in 1990 with promulgation of Decree 16 by the Federal Military Government which is now known as Act 16 of the National Assembly (Nwosu,2005)
The Decree amongst others stipulates the qualifications for eligibility to practice Public Relations or join the profession in Nigeria. It also stipulates the penalties for violation of the provisions of the Decree.(NIPR DECREE 16 OF 1990)
But experience seems to show that most employers are yet to comply with the provisions of the Decree. It is still common sight to find graduates of English or Theatre Arts and others parading themselves as Public Relations practitioners. It is not too clear whether most employers of labour are actually aware of the existence of the decree and the penalties for violation of the provisions therein.(Nwosu,2005)
It is not too obvious that the NIPR is working towards checking the activities of quacks and employers as empowered by the Decree. For instance the researcher has on many occasions seen newspaper vacancy advertisements which did not require the prospective Public Relations person to possess any of the qualifications prescribed by the Decree. The qualifications indicated in the complementary cards of some of the practitioners known to the part of the institute.
The study therefore is aimed at determining the level of awareness of the provisions of the Decree on qualifications and eligibility to practice PR in Nigeria, the extent of implementation effort by the institute; and the effects of the Decree on PR practice in Nigeria.
1.3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
The objectives of this study are:
- To examine the key problems that had beset Public Relations practice in Nigeria before and after the promulgation of Decree 16 of 1990.
- To assess the level of awareness of PR practitioners and employers of labour on the provisions of the Decree on qualifications and eligibility to practice PR in Nigeria.
- To evaluate the effect of the provisions of the Decree on qualifications and eligibility to practice PR in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The study will try to answer the following questions:
- What is the level of awareness of PR practitioners and employers about the provisions of NIPR Decree / Act 16 of 1990?
- To what extent have the provisions of the Act relating to qualifications and eligibility to practice PR in Nigeria been implemented?
- What have been the effects of the provisions of the Decree or Act on PR practice in Nigeria?
For the purpose of this study the following hypotheses will be tested:
1 Ho: The problems associated with qualifications and eligibility to Practice profession were not such that would have warranted the promulgation of a Decree.
Hi: The problems associated with qualifications and eligibility to practice PR profession were such that would have warranted the promulgation of a Decree.
- Ho: There is no significant difference in the level of awareness about
the required qualification for PR practice after the promulgation of the Decree despite NIPR’s awareness campaign for the Decree.
Hi: There is significant difference in the level of awareness about the required qualification for PR practice after the promulgation of the Decree as a result of NIPR’s awareness campaign for the Decree.
- Ho: The NIPR has not been able to implement the provisions of the
Decree that relates to qualifications and eligibility to practice Public Relations in Nigeria.
Hi: The NIPR has been able to implement the provisions of the
Decree that relate to qualifications and eligibility to practice Public Relations in Nigeria.
- Ho: The promulgation of the Decree has no significant impact on the
practice of Public Relations profession in Nigeria.
HI: The promulgation of the Decree has significant impact on the practice of Public Relations profession in Nigeria.
- SCOPE OF STUDY
The study will assess the awareness, implementation and effect of the provisions of NIPR Decree 16 of 1990 on qualifications and eligibility to practice Public Relations in Nigeria. The study will cover only four states (Lagos, Enugu and Plateau) as well the Federal Capital Territory – Abuja and will have Public Relations practitioners and employers of labour as its population and sample. These people are to be found in Government parastatals, Media houses, Hospitals, Oil companies, Financial institutions School, Professional bodies, etc.
The study will not delve into other sections or provisions of the Decree other than schedule 4. Section 10 which borders on qualification, registrations and eligibility to practice Public Relations in Nigeria.
- LIMITATIONS OF STUDY
In view of limited time and funds, the study will only use a sample drawn from Lagos. Enugu, plateau state and Abuja. It will not also be possible to generate data from every member of the sample through personal interview considering the cost of this method. Therefore, postal questionnaire will be used in most cases.
- SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study is significant as it will benefit the government employers of labour PR practitioners and their institute and the society in the following ways:
- The Government through the findings of the study may be able to
determine how well the provisions of the Decree are being adhered