Expert tasks FG, States to professionalize protocol practice in Nigeria

BY Aherhoke Okioma

An expert in global best practices for protocol management, Mr Julius Lambert Nyananyo has canvassed for professionalization of protocol practice in Nigeria.

He made the recommendation in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital during an interview on Sunday, 14th August 2022, saying professionalism in the protocol field is still lacking in the country.

Nyananyo who is the Deputy Director and Head, of Protocol and Information as well as the official Master of Ceremony (MC) with the Bayelsa State Judiciary noted that the nation unlike other spheres of the world is far-fetched from the professionalization of Protocol management.

He hinted that protocol management has continued to develop not only in advanced countries but also in developing countries, there was need not to make the profession all-comer affairs in Nigeria.

He called on the federal and states governments to make and assent to enabling laws that are to make and ensure Professionalism in the profession, just as he reiterated that successive administrations in the country have intended to professionalize it, but had never made headway in their quests to ensure professionalism in protocol management.

The expert whom the world protocol magazine (WPM) had recently quoted to have garnered no fewer than 20 years of cognate experience as a protocol professional observed that more than often, save for a few instances, the order of precedence at events in Nigeria has been bastardized.

Nyananyo cited instances where some superior offices and officers in both the state and federal government acknowledged the official credit of their supposed subordinates due to the absence of a law regulating protocol practices in the nation.

He said: “The prospects and usefulness of protocol management today cannot be over-emphasized. Nigeria as a developing country is expected to observe the rules in areas such as diplomatic engagements, investment promotion, event management and so on. The concept of protocol profession has developed a vast literature among scholars, diplomats, and individuals who contributed to this field of study.

“The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines professionalism as “the conduct, aims or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person and defines ‘profession’ as a calling requiring specialised knowledge and often long intensive academic preparation.”

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He added that: “Nevertheless, we may accept the definition of Wikipedia that a professional is a member of a profession or any person who earns their living from a specified professional activity. The term also describes the standards of education and training that prepare members of the profession with the particular knowledge and skills necessary to perform their specific role within that profession. Like other professions, protocol requires a strict code of conduct, ensuring ethical and moral obligations.

“Over the last seven years, the Association of Certified Protocol Practitioners in Nigeria (ACPPN) and the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations have created a community that embraces professionals in the field of protocol across Nigeria. It has become crucial to enhance the professionalism of protocol practice in Nigeria. The first and key factor is the need for a legal framework.

“This legal framework will help accelerate a wider approach, especially within the organizations in the public and private sector. Law on the Order of National Precedence and other Related Matters will help in professionalising protocol practice, (though attempts were made by the Nigerian National Assembly in passing an ‘Order of Precedence of Public Officers and other Person’s bill’, but it is yet to receive the consent of the President of Nigeria, due to concerns raised by the Judiciary in 2007 and 2011, respectively).”

Nyananyo gave instances where countries, such as Ghana in their constitution have to professionalize the practice of protocol.

He quoted Chapter 8, Section 57 (2) of the Ghanaian Constitution, saying that part of the Ghanaian organic law covers the order of precedence, saying also that in the United States of America, the State Chief of protocol goes through congressional clearance before appointment by the President.

Nyananyo posited that this shows the importance of protocol in governance, saying, institutionalising protocol practice as a cadre in the scheme of service of the Nigerian Public Service, will greatly enhance professionalism and career advancement.

He said: “For example, the Bayelsa State Judiciary has institutionalised Protocol practice as a cadre in its scheme of service by enacting a Law, the Bayelsa State Judiciary Workers Law 2010.

“By the enactment of this act by the Bayelsa State Judiciary, young officers are recruited and trained to get to the top of their career as Directors/Protocol Practitioners. This should also be replicated in the Public Service system in Nigeria.

“There is a need for training and certification at different levels in line with our peculiar working environment. Currently, there is no known curriculum in Nigeria as it exists in other countries. Training and development are important components for building the best protocol practices that are efficient and useful for implementing programmes and activities. This would build professional self-confidence in protocol officers who will have the professional competence to respond to work ethics and challenges.

“Finally, as a way of networking and professional development, professional bodies in Protocol should be encouraged to be active members of relevant Organisations such as the Association of Certified Protocol Practitioners in Nigeria (ACPPN), Protocol and Diplomacy International- Protocol Officers Association (PDI-POA), and the International Centre for Protocol and Diplomacy.”

Similarly, quoting an excerpt from his latest publication in the famous World Protocol Magazine in his article titled: ‘ Enhancing Professionalism in the Practice of Protocol in Nigeria’, the head protocol and official MC of the Bayelsa State Judiciary said that the Association of Certified Protocol Practitioners in Nigeria (ACPPN) has been proactive and is seeking partnership with the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, and other relevant agencies in achieving their stated objectives.

He added thus: “The proper observance of protocol rules is a sign of respect for both the organisational system of ethical practices and the individuals involved. However, in Nigeria, there are clear and strong personal desires and aspirations in people against the concern for the greater good of obeying protocol rules. This explains why there is such a lack of professional and ethical practices characterised in contemporary society as a whole.

“It is important to address and ensure the re-orientation of our Very Important Personalities (VIPs). A recent case in point is the royal wedding in the United Kingdom where the beauty and orderliness of VIPs who attended strictly on invitation were showcased.

“In a more general sense, ignoring protocol rules create an atmosphere of suspicion that fuels an “us versus them” climate as some may describe. This violation can result in very significant and unwanted consequences. No one is more important than the process. Those who are hostile to protocol rules are at the very least appear selfish, creating a certain perception and a lasting ill will. In short, those who knowingly ignore protocol procedures abuse the system and risk tarnishing their own reputation.

“Protocol standardisation promotes goodwill and best practices obtained in its standard operating procedures; its absence brings resentment and confusion in our world. Decent and modern societies observe protocol rules. If we act responsibly in obedience to protocol, we welcome an atmosphere of order and decorum in our world. The responsibility lies with those who attempt to circumvent the process as well as our leaders in every level of society to consistently respect protocol”.

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