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Title : New dimensions in community relations: the role of culture and public relations in Nigeria Author's name : Kingsley Eyita, MNIPR, CPRP Institution / Organisation : Kee Kommunications Limited Country : Nigeria. Introduction and background :

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Title: New dimensions in community relations: the role of culture and public relations in Nigeria

Author's name: Kingsley Eyita, MNIPR, CPRP

Institution / Organisation: Kee Kommunications Limited

Country: Nigeria


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  • Introduction and background:

    “In Nigeria, the host government and the oil corporations are partners in the exploration and exploitation of the resources, but there has been no significant policy change toward the welfare of the oil producing areas... the strength of their common economic interest overrides all local rights to the mineral resources ... They have little or no regards for local (community) welfare”


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  • Community relations:In the Nigerian oil and gas industry, a good number of literature show that researchers have studied the guiding paradigms for this concept (Evuleocha, 2005; Ite, 2004; Amaeshi et al., 2006; Turner et al., 2004; Idemudia, 2007). Their verdicts relate more with what this paper calls the philanthropic model which is expressed through CA (community assistance) and CC (community compassion). This model merely portrays the host community with a bowel in hand begging for crumbs to be dropped for its survival. The problems with this model are numerous.


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  • Demands from host communities were simply fulfilled by offering scholarships for secondary and tertiary education which the industry liberally granted;

  • Environmental awareness both internationally and in Nigeria was comparatively lower;

  • Concerns for human rights in host communities where oil exploration went on was very minimal;

  • Nigeria was not subject to the kind of international scrutiny being witnessed today;

  • Industry-community relationships were characterised by respectful deference and calm (Omole, 1998:2-3).

  • In such a peaceful, largely illiterate and rural operating environment, these companies probably failed then to:

    1) Interpret the prevailing socio-political and economic culture that weighed heavily against the oil rich Niger Delta communities;

    2) Predict how such culture would evolve in the future to influence their public relations strategy and organisational culture(s).


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Traditional Nigerian ‘public relations’ strategies were deeply ingrained in coercive theory as Professors Opubor and Nwuneli have observed. Modern Nigerian persuasive ideology is not yet free from various forms of coercion as compliance-gaining strategy. That explains why terms like: “obey before complain”, “with militaryalacrity”,“with immediate effect” and many others are still relevant in our parlance. Military officer’s cars display their stickers, berets, horse-whip (“koboko”) all to scare the public and gain advantage over others on the roads.


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Products deeply ingrained in coercive theory as Professors Opubor and Nwuneli have observed. Modern Nigerian persuasive ideology is not yet free from various forms of coercion as compliance-gaining strategy. That explains why terms like: Region of origin% of derivation paid

Groundnuts North 50

Cocoa West 50

Palms produce East 50

Then the culture of true federalism applied. But when oil and gas extracted from the Niger Delta (which by some curious coincidence, is made up of minority ethnic groups) began to yield huge revenues, the derivation principle was revised, changed and finally dropped by government.

That explains why forces from the minority ethnic groups are agitating for true federalism in Nigeria as a sure solution to the Niger Delta crisis.

But what challenges are there for PR in Nigeria/Africa?


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  • Omole (1998) reveals that in this 21 deeply ingrained in coercive theory as Professors Opubor and Nwuneli have observed. Modern Nigerian persuasive ideology is not yet free from various forms of coercion as compliance-gaining strategy. That explains why terms like: st century and further:

  • The challenge for the public relations practitioner will not be how best to successfully launder image, but how well he (she) can expose superior performance, and how credibly he or she can manage and explain contemporary challenges and emerging issues...the manager will not be hired to clean up the mess resulting from bad policy or unacceptable behaviour – as such unwholesome events would be exposed sooner than later given the pervasive nature of global information technology – he/she will be hired to enhance the ability of the employer to formulate good policies and behave in a manner acceptable to the now small, more open and prying world of the 21st century


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  • More challenges confronting the African PR practitioner: deeply ingrained in coercive theory as Professors Opubor and Nwuneli have observed. Modern Nigerian persuasive ideology is not yet free from various forms of coercion as compliance-gaining strategy. That explains why terms like:

  • Courtesy of the satellite communication technology, the global village theory is now a modern reality. People or interest groups in distant countries and continents now have instant access and chances to learn, interact, exchange and share ideas. In an era of instant, worldwide communication, information is readily available and accessible as the media now rapidly spread the news to audiences once unimaginable.

  • More and more people are enlightened courtesy of formal and informal education. On the basis of all these PR practitioners worldwide, would have to adopt what this paper calls the ‘Per-T-A-C’ concept of public relations. Here, he/she is expected to help management to Perceive issues and their trends, and then Think extensively on their significance and consequences as a base for Actions which must be followed by Communication.


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  • The concept of deeply ingrained in coercive theory as Professors Opubor and Nwuneli have observed. Modern Nigerian persuasive ideology is not yet free from various forms of coercion as compliance-gaining strategy. That explains why terms like: Glasnost and Perestroika in the new dimensions in community relations:

  • As guest speaker in the 1993 NIPR conference Mr Joachim Schroder from Switzerland, said and I want to quote: “In the past few years four messages had a significantly stronger impact than any international public relations campaign: ‘New Thinking’, ‘Glasnost’, ‘Perestroika’, and ‘We are the people’!” According to him these four messages “broke through all barriers and have had a lasting effect on global communication”.

  • My thinking is that the new dimensions in community relations in Niger Delta also revolve around these principles. As literature reveals, ‘Glasnost’ means new openness and ‘Perestroika’ restructuring.

  • The new dimensions in community relations place strong demands on stakeholders in the Niger Delta. In the light of new realities, they have need for new thinking in their community relations strategies. One of the ways is for them to embrace the culture of openness to themselves and to the communities. With that comes the need for a holistic restructuring.


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For instance the issue of true federalism, as was the case when Agriculture was the hop of Nigeria’s economy, deserve mention here. Added to that is the place and role of democracy as an ideology, where the wishes of the people dictate who qualifies to rule and why. To pretend that these issues, which are components of Nigeria’s socio-political culture, do not affect the practice of public relations in Nigeria is like giving Satan awards for saintly activities.


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The following provides a sound cultural foundation for successful PR practice in Africa. This too is how to enhance excellent corporate-community relations in this 21st century and after:


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Thank you very much successful PR practice in Africa. This too is how to enhance excellent corporate-community relations in this 21for your time and attention.

Kingsley Eyita,MNIPR, CPRP.

Keekommunications Nigeria Limited.

[email protected]; [email protected]


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