By Jimoh Babatunde
President Goodluck Jonathan has said that the ‘Nigeria, Our Heritage Project’ will overhauls the country’s image globally and promote the country’s tourism and cultural heritage.
Speaking at the launch of the project in Washington D.C recently, the President said the project would celebrate the rich cultural inheritance and vast economic endowment of Nigeria, he regretted that Nigeria had come under global media conspiracy that brought humiliation for the country.
President Jonathan said “The project is a message to every Nigerian that we have a duty to ensure that Nigeria is not only what it should be but what others see it as. We have to be holistic in the way we look at things, especially our culture”.
The ‘Nigeria, Our Heritage Project’ meant to convey some form of positive news about the nation to the international community is being championed by the Ministry of Tourism & Culture and a group of Nigerian private and corporate individuals.
The project was first unveiled in Abuja last month with support from over fifteen private companies, states and the foreign Affairs ministry before it was taken to the international stage last week in Washington D.
The Minister of Tourism, Edem Duke, expressed optimism that the project would support and uphold the cardinal principles of his ministry as he called for an increased partnership with Nigerian companies, the media and government in a bid to lead the race towards revamping Nigeria as an investment destination in the world.
“We, therefore, seek for the partnership of companies which are proud of Nigeria, the media, local and international agencies, Nigerians in Diaspora, institutions of government and state governments to be part of this project by identifying with our avowed commitment to lead the race towards revamping the global dignity of Nigeria as an investment destination.
“We believe that time has come for the private sector and notable Nigerians from all walks of life to take the front row in shaping the future of Nigeria economically, socially and otherwise because all over the world, government makes policies and create enabling environment for growth but the private sector is the substructure that shapes the economy, “ Duke stated.
The Washington D.C. event, dubbed ‘an evening of entertainment’, which marked the first plank of a novel approach to the country’s holistic national branding project, had in attendance Nigeria’s Ambassador to USA, and several Nigerian celebrities, notably Don Jazzy, Rita Dominic, Ali Nuhu, Davido, Flavour, Tiwa Savage, Tee Billz, Masterkraft, Tola Odunsi, Leslie Kasumba, Di’Ja, Lola Ogunnaike, Obi Asika, Hakeem Kae-Kazim and Ubi Franklin, among others.
The Chairman of the Project’s Governing Board, Professor George Obiozor, said “Nigeria: Our Heritage Project is conceived as an enduring movement to engender a positive global perception change for Nigeria, such that Nigeria would be enabled internally and externally, to realize her full potentials.”
The project, he added “will be activated by 100 proudly Nigerian public and private organizations that will catalyze the strategic repositioning of Nigeria as a nation.” And this seems to be paying off already, judging by the number and caliber of the individuals and organisations that have already lined up behind the project.
Jim O’Neil, who coined the acronym ‘BRICS,’ for emerging markets economies, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, has projected that Nigeria may be one of the 13 biggest world economies by 2050.
Obiozor and his group hope Nigeria’s economy would rank in the top five by 2114, when Nigeria would be celebrating its second centenary. It’s good that a private initiative like the NOHP is planning big for Nigeria’s future. If you aim for the skies, you might hit the treetop.
The spirit of Nigeria’s centenary, swirling in the air, should galvanize and give hope to the people of Nigeria. It should put cynical Nigerians back to work again. One good way to get Nigerians mobilized is to tie the national branding cause to things that appeal to and define the uniqueness of the peoples that make up the Nigerian nation state.
This is not talking about ‘stomach infrastructure,’ but creating enabling environments for every Nigerian to use as leverage for individual economic prosperity and cultural or nationalistic pride. After all, the home front is important. If this project is handled in a non partisan way, it could mobilize the entire country for peace, prosperity and the good life.
A compendium of Nigeria’s heritage that will include music, dance, costumes, food and natural sites will be put in hardcopy of 100 limited copies as part of the next plant of the project.
It was also revealed that there will be a road show that will take Nigeria’s ancient and contemporary arts abroad for appreciation by the international community as well as a video documentary series, ‘Fascinating Nigeria’ that will visually convey, in motion, Nigeria’s rich heritage and scenic sites to the international audience.