With a population of 155 million, making it Africa's most populous country and the seventh most populous in the world, as well as a wealth of natural resources, and an economy which the IMF predicts will grow by 8% one would expect Nigeria to host an active and growing PR industry.
Yet PR in Nigeria has been hampered by corruption, political uncertainty, and a lack of industry unity. Corruption has long been a problem in Nigeria but the ‘Sanusi Tsunami' at the end of 2009 which led to the sacking of the chief executives at nine banks, highlighted just how deep-seated and widespread the issue had become.
The consequent credit freeze saw marketing budgets of the biggest spenders – banks, telcos and FMCG – slashed. Since then ill-health has forced the resignation of President Umaru Yar'Adua, and the elevation of Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan. Experts point to this political uncertainty, and the way laws change at short notice and without consultation, as one reason for the lack of foreign investment in many sectors.
In the same way, the PR industry faces challenges. “It is a country where the majority of the population lives on low income, and where the elite know each other or about each other well,' says Shell's International Operations Senior Communications Manager Olav Ljosne, formerly Regional Communications Director for the oil giant based in Africa. “The industry has several good PR practitioners, a couple of well established companies, and the tools used are rather limited.”