COVID-19: NIPR Lauds Fight Against Virus, Urges Improved Synergy

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The Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) has commended the efforts of the Presidential Task Force (PTF), the Federal Ministry of Health, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and other government agencies involved in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic in the nation.

In a press release signed by its President/Chairman, Governing Council, Mukhtar Zubairu Sirajo, the Institute said it has been partnering with sister organisations within and outside the nation to gauge public opinion and perception in evaluating the efforts of the MDAs “and this has helped our professional peer review initiative with similar efforts across the world.

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“Particularly, we will like to commend the efforts of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) put in place by the federal government, with the very supportive roles being played by the Federal Ministry of Health, and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) peopled by our own indefatigable medical personnel and care givers, as well as the various state governments, groups/associations, and corporate organizations that have played prominent roles in lending hands of support and succor to both the government and the citizens.”

“The general perception is that if synergy is improved upon and the efforts more carefully coordinated, Nigeria will yet again rise to this occasion, as was done during the Ebola outbreak.

“We however observe that the relative success so far recorded would have been even greater had certain strategic moves been made to engage other critical stakeholders in constituting the Task Force so that they can avail the nation of their professional expertise in some aspects of handling the situation. The medical dimension of the Covid-19 is no doubt, the spindle around which the wheel revolves, but the pandemic is also a crisis of monumental proportions.

“Strategic crisis communication is therefore also important as handling the situation requires not only public enlightenment but also the crafting of appropriate messages for it, networking with other stakeholders as well as analysis of pros and cons of measures to be taken as they affect segments of the society.

“This brings us to the issue of the deep concerns being expressed by Nigerians, including, crucially, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), on the involvement of Chinese citizens, albeit their medical professionals, in handling the pandemic situation in Nigeria. Apart from causing possible professional friction in managing the situation, which the nation can ill afford at this time, information already being circulated, be it fake or real, points to a perceived doubt of the altruism of a Chinese involvement in the fight against the pandemic.

“We hasten to add that, had strategic communication being deployed, before accepting the Chinese offer, the country might not have been in this somewhat embarrassing situation. In our considered opinion, taking a strategic stakeholder like the NMA into confidence through regular consultations would have enriched the initiative and provided professional expertise to accommodate the peculiarities of our reality.

“With the WHO commendation of Nigeria’s effective efforts at curbing the pandemic, what our doctors need among others, is some encouragement and a boost at this crucial time and not a move that would seem to demoralise them. Our reputation as a nation and as a people as well as our territorial integrity, is at stake; we must therefore guard against mortgaging it for anything

“To this end, we advise the Federal Government to once more review its position and carefully handle the matter in a way that reassures the citizens of its full understanding of the situation, while at the same time upholding the existing cordial relationship between Nigeria and China.

“We also commend the Nigerian media (print, broadcast as well as online), for having so far, discharged their responsibility to keep the populace informed of government policies and directives, as well as the adverse impact of the pandemic across the world. So far, their various efforts have, apart from alerting the populace, also doused apprehension and misinformation. Yet there is a yawning gap in dealing with the fundamental issues of Citizen-orientation for which the NIPR is willing to offer a platform to government.

“We commiserate with families of those who lost their lives in the pandemic, while we pray that those that have tested positive will recover speedily.  We strongly believe that Nigeria will come out of this sooner than we think. We advise against distractions at this time. We appeal to the government and those out of it to guard against politicizing any aspect of this very crucial fight for survival while also appealing to all Nigerians to rally round the government as it strives to protect us all,” the Institute concluded.