Friday, March 27, 2009

Re-branding Nigeria is a good idea

IN helping to reposition our national image, rekindle the passion of patriotism, make us believe more in the beauty that lies in us and in our country despite the challenges of the global economic downturn; beside poor governance and weak infrastructural facilities, Prof. Dora Akunyili is trying to re-brand Nigeria. But then, will the re-branding part with the do or die attitude to politics and politicians? Will it stop electoral malpractices and thuggery? Will it enhance the rule of law and its application? Will it help the EFCC, ICPC and NDLEA fight corruption at all levels? Will it change the assertion that laws are supposed to be obeyed by the poor and ordinary Nigerians and not by the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary?

As said by the Information and Communications Minister, the 'Heart of Africa' project was jettisoned because it was mainly overseas-oriented, not cost effective and did not make considerable impact. Let us hope that the new project is going to re-brand and correct the negative perception of Nigerians, both locally and internationally. Let us welcome the plan with a new image for Nigeria. Let us polish our behaviours and subscribe to the basic tenets of decent human and leadership conduct, probity and accountability. Let our leaders and their leadership styles be consistent with our aspiration to build a great country. Let us take our mistakes as past and ensure that such mistakes are not allowed to happen again.

Re-branding is not all about what the country is doing or going to do but what you stand for as a person in the country. We need to embark on collective effort to make things happen and do something positive and be known for it. In this regard, re-branding will work. Let the re-brand Nigeria project see to the workability of the seven-point agenda, millennium development goals (MDGs), NEEDS, SEEDS, LEEDS, FSS, Vision 2020 and other developmental programmes and strategies.

One of my favourite columnists Mr. Ray Murphy would wish us to believe that we have no other place like Nigeria and so, we must struggle to make it great. Nigeria has what it takes to change its image and take on a new identity. Some Nigerians will say this is one of the millennium dreams, but let us pray it turns into reality, let us hope Nigeria is still one great country that very little effort with genuine interest on the part of all of us will re-register it as a foremost nation globally.

Therefore, Nigeria as a country should embrace the concepts of place or destination of the branding exercise instead of confusing members of the committee or not accepting the idea completely. We must actively seek to market our country as a favourite destination for tourism, trade and investment. We must tell our own stories and seek to shape the agenda of both local and international media. If we don't, then we should not complain when the media, particularly the international media only showcase the negatives about us. We must believe in our capacity to effect changes because that is the central message of the programme.

Let us hope and believe that this time, with the same zeal the former NAFDAC boss has put in place, the spirit will remain strong in re-branding Nigeria with professionals like Hilda Dokubo, Pete Edochie, Mrs. Bilkisu Yusuf, Alhaji Garba Bello Kankarofi, Prof. Chukwuemeka Nwosu and so on. We should believe that Nigerians can do it. Image is everything; the image of Nigeria and Nigerians should not be a matter of mere words but action. Our leaders must carry out their God-given responsibilities without fear or favour of any kind as it is said that charity begins at home.