BY MCPHILIPS NWACHUKWU

Mrs Ada Stella, Apiafi, is the coordinator of I-Nigerian Initiative, a group concerned about the worsening negativity about the country has recently launched a campaign to promote the country through an initiative called The Nigerian Renaissance Project. In this interview, she speaks on how to develop Nigeria and why Nigerians must change their perception of the country. Excerpts:

What is the I-Nigerian project all about?
I-Nigerian is a privately initiated Perception Transformation Initiative set up to drive what we have chosen to call The Nigerian Renaissance Project (TNRP) into the consciousness of Nigerians at home and abroad, and to the global community, with special emphasis on the positives. It is both a process, and a series of programmes designed to recapture the heart, soul and concept of being Nigerian, by showcasing in every sphere, the good in Nigeria, and Nigerians, by Nigerians themselves.

What are the reasons behind this initiative?
Nigerians are by nature very vocal about everything, especially about their country – for good or for bad. Therefore, it is necessary to transpose our minds, such that the stories that we tell of Nigeria, and the image we present of our country, give the country a ‘new’ name that reflects some ‘new order’ among Nigerians themselves.

The truth is most times what we see is negative. How can that be addressed?

It is not what we see but what is being reported. There are many good and positives that could and should be reported as well. When Nigeria recently made it into the list of the 50 Most Reputable Countries in the World, not many media outfits celebrated it! Before now, the country was not even considered for ranking.

Apiafi
Apiafi

A 24 year old Nigerian, Uwa Osamede Imafidon, just graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) in the US with a Masters degree in Microbiology, with a 4.0 CGPA out of the maximum 4.0 CGPA. Before her sojourn abroad, she had earlier bagged a First Class Degree in Crop Science from University of Benin, as the Best Graduating student in her Department.

A few years ago, Jelani Aliyu from Sokoto State who schooled in Kebbi, won a global design competition organised by General Motors. Sadly, the good attention that we should be basking in is being tainted by the news of insurgencies, challenges to our national security, and a myriad of issues that spark more and more negative news about Nigerians as a people. Nigerians – individually and collectively – are left with a battered trust and confidence in their Nigerianness.

But how do you see these achievements compared to the internal crises and challenges that we are faced with daily?

We have challenges, that is true! But you will all agree with me that our country is at a very critical stage of its growth and development. We have evolved as a new ‘democratic’ country, and a fast-growing economy. Global attention on Nigeria today, is at an all-time high, something that should easily bring pride to the heart of every Nigerian wherever we are across the world. Today, there is a deep dent on the collective psyche of the average Nigerian, as Nigerians find it increasingly difficult to speak positively our dearly beloved county.

What is the solutions, or what is the good news?
The good news however, is that there are lots of positives! Nigeria is about to emerge as the largest economy in Africa. GDP is a powerful political tool as the most important global governance institutions, from the G8 to the G20, are based on GDP credentials. So far, South Africa has been the only African country represented in the G20 on the grounds of the scale of its economy.

Is this initiative intended to promote the government?
Whether in government or out of government, we are all Nigerians that should promote Nigeria. There are commendable initiatives from the government and the private sector. For instance there is this Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YouWin), the entrepreneurship development scheme of the Federal Government which was launched just over a year ago, and has become so successful that each of the 1200 first set of beneficiaries are now employing an average of eight staff! You may also be aware of different.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has just announced that Nigeria has successfully halved the number of hungry people in line with the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals. Like us, you should all agree that very cheering news is emanating from our land, and these should be commended and celebrated.

How do you address the negative perceptions of Nigerians abroad who are into criminal activities?

There are many Nigerians doing great outside the country. Of the 541 athletes employed by Great Britain for the 2012 Olympics, 16 reportedly are Nigerians including some that are world champions. None of them was referred to them as Nigerian-born British athletes. BUT, when two miscreants born and bred in Britain killed a soldier, the British press was so quick to dub them Nigerians.

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