By Princewill Ekwujuru
â€œNigeria and Nigerians are not as bad as the world take us and that should not stop us fromÂ telling our story. We have to tell our story to the world, no one knows our story like us.â€Â declared Minister of Information and Communication Mrs Dora Akunyili.
Prof. Dora Akunyili said thisÂ when Brand Writers Association of Nigeria (BWAN) hosted herÂ to itâ€™s maiden Talkshop on the way forward for the re-branding Nigeria project and why theÂ project must work.
While advancing reasons why Nigerians must help push the re- branding project, she said thatÂ for a very long time, theÂ image problem of Nigeria has not been properly addressed. OnlyÂ War Against Indiscipline (WAI) worked a little, but it was not sustained, “of course, ifÂ Â you remember during WAI, we were focused, we were orderly in our true essence, we wereÂ actually ourselves, but today, this cannot be said of the country.”
â€œFor too long we have suffered in this country, “personally, I donâ€™t want our children, ourÂ grand children to continue going through what we are going through today. The internationalÂ communities have be defining us based on the behaviour of a few criminals in our midst, weÂ actually allowed the bad behaviour of these horrible people to criminate our collectiveÂ innocence, people talk about us almost all the time as very corrupt people, unruly,Â Â in-redeemable people, a country were nothing works, and these things have stocked so much,Â that in all efforts, in all publicÂ places, all over the world, once the green passport isÂ sited, you become a marked person.â€
Continuing, she said, â€œyou are asked to stand aside, you are not given the benefit of theÂ doubt and we started accepting it as if it was alright, because if it was not okay, why wereÂ we not saying something about it openly and concretely, even during Heart of Africa project,Â it was never addressed and it continued to an extent that even when people wanted do anyÂ advert on corruption they use Nigeria.
Some things are still working in Nigeria, the country has not ben ungovernable, in some ofÂ these countries there grave crimes taking place, it is never reported, even if reported itÂ is in there local media, this because they are too cautious of their image.
But, if not for the re-branding Nigeria project we wouldnâ€™t have stopped Sony from thatÂ advert. It is because of the spirit of re-branding that people started reporting what SonyÂ is doing, and we are re-branding, saying that we are criminals. They had to stop because weÂ complained. If Sony had done this two, three years ago nobody would have reported it.
â€œIt is clear that we have an image problem, everybody accepts that; and something needs toÂ be doneÂ to enhance our image, So,Â it is not enough only to put our roads in place, getÂ pipe borne water constructed, or bring the railways backÂ to life, or enhance ourÂ electricity supply and so on. Even if we have all the roads in Nigeria fixed, electricityÂ runsÂ 24/7, and the internet still says it is too risky to do business in Nigeria, foreignÂ investors will still find it difficult to invest in Whether branding or no re-branding thereÂ are too many things we are to do for our country Nigeria. Re-branding or branding a country,Â re-branding is something that goes on from generation to generation, because we cannot stopÂ renewing, itâ€™s a sense of renewal, always trying to renew. It is a continuos process, sheÂ stated.
Stressing further, Akunyili said, â€œall what I want to plead with Nigerians is that we doÂ whatever we are doing the right way. We need to project our country as a good product we canÂ sell. What is happening with the re-branding project now is struggling to market a productÂ that is not marketable. It posses a very difficult problem.â€
â€œThe Ministry of Information is not branding Nigeria, Nigeria is already a brand, So manyÂ countries re-branded, South Africa did, using the slogan, it is possible, Kenya, Malawi did,Â Â Angola after 21 years of civil war did.Â India has, when India wasÂ re-branding they used aÂ slogan.â€Â Using the slogan Good people, Great Nationâ€™â€ is a tonic to ginger Nigerians. So ifÂ we are re-branding we must do it differently, it must not go the way of all the others.