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Selling the Nigerian brand in 2010

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Dora Akunyili
A campaign for change has to be sustained for it to permeate existing stereotypes and idiosyncrasies, especially when certain habits have been institutionalized over several years. In view of this, the intention of my Ministry is to be on point and stay on the message till we achieve the desired outcomes.
We never anticipated the re-branding movement would be like a walk in the park however, we were confident we would chip away at the socio-political impediments preventing us from achieving the required development that drives true nationhood.

It has been ten months since Nigerians took ownership of the change mechanism and launched the campaign. In that period we have achieved quite a bit. If nothing at all, the seed of re-branding has sparked debates, dialogues and seminars which have contributed in one way or another to the advancement of the cause.

Over the same period we have traversed the country intimating the populace and their leaders on the need for us to change our attitudes, imbibe our good old cultural values, instill discipline and restore our patriotic zeal.

At every one of those venues, the re-branding message was warmly received. Nigerians are thirsty for change and have been waiting for this opportunity to latch on to a vehicle that will positively transform their lives. We have already visited Bauchi, Imo, Ondo, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Kogi and Plateau States, and the support we got from the people and their leaders was really overwhelming.

We have had meetings with the media, Corporate Nigeria, Writers and Authors, Nollywood, Nigerian Youths, traditional rulers and religious bodies, both Christians and Muslims. My Ministry and the campaign itself, is in partnership with various local and international organizations who believe in the core components of the initiative. We find we have common ground and are working towards achieving that critical mass that will spur actual change.

In all of this, we have succeeded in enlisting several Nigerians directly and indirectly to the extent that some have made it an academic exercise in institutions, and others on the street have adopted it as the watch word for change or discipline. We have succeeded in putting the world on notice that Nigerians will not continue to be stereo-typed as criminals, as evidenced in the unfortunate Sony PS3 Advert and the district 9 movie.

In 2010 we intend to consolidate on the gains so far. We will be driving the campaign up a few more notches.
We have flagged off the establishment of Re-branding clubs in primary and secondary schools.

The club is the outreach arm of the campaign to students and there is no denying the fact that catching them young particularly at the formative stages, and inculcating in them the culture of civility, patriotism and national pride is the right investment to make in order to ensure a bright future for this country.

The parents are not left out as the heads of the schools are being asked to enlist the support of the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) to get the rebranding message across to the children. We also intend to partner with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). We are encouraged by the willingness of the agency to avail us of the services of their over 300,000 graduates.

The Level of support we received from foreign missions in Nigeria in this Re-branding Campaign has encouraged us to work more closely with them through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so that we can use the diplomats to drive our messages to their various countries. We are also working with the Ministry of foreign Affairs to facilitate our collaborations with over 17 million Nigerians in the diaspora and the 105 Nigerian missions Abroad.

This is because we appreciate that every Nigerian in diaspora is an ambassador and the window through which Nigeria can be seen. As we begin this New Year, I want to seize the opportunity to appeal to all Nigerians, leaders and followers to inculcate the spirit of change. 2010 is a critical and defining year in the history of our great country.

We must reposition Nigeria and point it in the direction of President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua’s vision of attaining the height of being in the league of the World’s 20 largest economies by the year 2020. We can only achieve this by first of all accepting that we have no other country we can call our own, and so we have to treat Nigeria with utmost respect.

We must believe in ourselves and shun vices that shackle this country to the rungs of underdevelopment. This government’’s concrete developmental deliverables are ongoing and so this campaign does not take away from that effort, rather it complements it. God has been good to us. Let’’s appreciate Him by taking advantage of His mercies and doing the right things. Good people make a great nation, let us continue striving to leave up to our name.
Thank you for believing in the cause and for your continued support. Welcome to a New Nigeria.
Prof. Dora Akunyili is the Minister of Information and Communications.

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