Tonnie Iredia has underscored the need for a change in how Nigeria is being portrayed and perceived by the international community and the rest of the world.
Iredia, Chairman, Committee on Publicity, for the upcoming International Press Institute World Congress, said this when he led the committee members on a visit to the Managing Director, News Agency of Nigeria, Bayo Onanuga in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said the upcoming IPI World Congress scheduled to hold in June would be a perfect opportunity to help change the negative mindset of the international community towards Nigeria and the whole of Africa.
Iredia, former Director-General of the NTA, said the whole of Africa had been continuously portrayed in the negative light, whereas they failed to report positive things.
He noted that many positive things existed in Nigeria such as being our neighbours keepers, citing examples of the help Nigeria rendered to Liberia, Cape Verde, among others which were not propagated.
Iredia called on the Managing Director of NAN to continue to help sensitise Nigerians to the upcoming IPI World Congress and the need for Nigerians to portray herself in good light.
He said: “The people coming are coming with apprehension because of the negative things they have heard about Nigeria.
“We are particularly interested in making Nigerians realise the gains of the conference because if the delegates from all over the world come to Nigeria they will get to know things they have never known about us.
“They will get to know positive things because all they know is negative things; so it is like image making for Nigeria.
“That is why we want Nigerians to appreciate it, to support it and welcome the delegates warmly.”
He appealed to the NAN MD to increase reports going out on the IPI Congress and monitor to ensure the message was being received by people.
Iredia thanked the MD for his professional contribution to the agency and his logistic support towards the Congress.
Responding, Onanuga agreed with the committee that Nigeria was indeed being portrayed in bad light, which was not the case in reality.
He said he was sure the delegates coming for the congress would see a lot of good things about Nigeria, that its citizens should not be shy of showcasing.
He said: “I am happy we are hosting the congress, sometimes as a Nigerian you do not feel happy about the way we are perceived outside but I tell people that Nigeria is not as bad as we are being perceived. Nigeria is a great country and good people.
“There is something about our country that attracts you as a Nigerian, to return home when you leave the country.
“It is not better outside, things are better here. I believe if you have tasted outside, Nigeria is a much better country than other countries.
“You see people coming to this country to serve for several years and they do not want to go back because they feel this country is a much better country but we do not appreciate what God has given us except a few patriots.”
Onanuga assured the committee of NAN’s availability to publicise the pre and post conference stories and materials.
NAN reports that the IPI World Congress is scheduled to hold in Abuja from June 21 to 23.