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Between Branding and Overbranding

By Morenike Taire
SOMEHOW, the Nigerian collective sense of the ridiculous was aroused when former NAFDAC Director General and erstwhile new Communications Minister Dora Akunyili announced upon receiving her latest brief, her plans to rebrand Nigeria.

The surprise was the contrast in the public reaction to a woman who had been, in her own right, a subject of public adulation who had attained goddess status for (her) bravery and single mindedness in tackling the fake drugs issue. So low was the Nigerian’s faith in this country and her potential and her intensions that this translated to immediate distrust and dislike of anyone trying to make the country look good.

This unfortunate situation, it would appear, is exacerbated at every turn, particularly with the ministry taking a reactionary, almost cantankerous stance, every time Nigeria is portrayed in bad light, particularly by an outsider.

Something happened every other week that made Nigeria look like anything but a Great Nation filled with Good people.

For sure, it is taking us too long to realise that a great nation is not necessarily made up of good people. ‘Good people’ believe in morals. ‘Good people’ go to the church or the mosque or the Orunmila worship centre or wherever else they worship their  god on a regular basis.

‘Good people’ believe in their religious leaders and what they say. All too often, good people are misled people who fail to think for themselves about the consequences of their actions; they allow  other people, often people they perceive to be spiritual superiors, to think for them.

Good people are suicide bombers, Boko Haram adherents, Al Qaeda and other terrorists- people who have been brainwashed into thinking within a certain box at all times and never out of it. They fight for a cause not their own; they believe in a hope they cannot really fathom.

They have no idea of the true picture, and probably never  will, unless they get rid of enough of the opposition while staying alive to become a member of the inner caucus of whatever organisation they think they belong to.

When a Nigerian defrauds someone over the internet or a section of the country decides they want to bind members of their own States to State laws based not on natural law and collective need but on the religious beliefs of certain members of the State (even if the majority)  and we do not see it as a National emergency; when a member of the expatriate community is kidnapped and ransom is demanded for and paid up, and it is not seen as a national emergency until members of government and their families fall victim, we inadvertently undermine our own development and greatness in the name of  tolerance.

It has been overflogged, the fact that we have the potential to be great as a nation. We have everything it takes. In other words, we have potential but like good people, potential does not a great nation make. What makes for greatness is a real constitution and the rule of law. It has been said before and it will be reiterated: there is no way forward until we have these.

A great nation must be seen to be fighting the ills of society, which exist in every society. The difference between a nation that would be great and the one that would not is that the latter allows crime and mediocrity to thrive, even at the expense of innovation and excellence, while the other does not at any price.

2009 has been not the most heated year we have ever seen, but by far the most ambiguous. The uncertainty occasioned by the President’s ill health vis a vis the regional politics the parties are playing have in no way made things better.

There is every indication that feelers seeping out from political and international circles suggest a determination to keep Vice President Goodluck Jonathan from the State House. This, in addition to various other variables and factors including the most recent attack by Niger Delta militia on the so called Amnesty agreement suggests affairs in and concerning our oil rich Niger Delta are bound to be unstable for time yet.

Another factor responsible can be the controversial review of oil licensing, which is ill timed and not in keeping with the idea of keeping the peace. As a Nigerian once again makes history as being the first West African international terrorist and his  ‘ poor’ family weeps over the monster they did not curb in time, we as a nation must determine to declare categorical war  on our own internal terrorists before they become an embarrassment to us outside.

Looking for Health Elsewhere

AS Nigeria mourns Maryam Babangida who  finally passed on, after having survived many rumours of the same, the question remains on why it is that our government officials past and present are so comfortable with the fact that our healthcare system is so messed up that they have to take themselves and members of their families even as far as India to get medical attention?


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.