Since Professor Dora Akunyili announced her intention to rebrand Nigeria, the public space has been clogged with varying reactions. Not deterred by the racket that her announcement triggered, Professor Akunyili has since swung into action to realise her dream. Nonetheless, it won’t hurt anybody to reflect on the reason behind the rebranding dissensions. It’s intriguing that many, who did not sympathise with Akunyili’s agenda, have no hesitation in acknowledging that the country needs a little make up. The only question is how do we go about it?
I may not be a pathological pessimist; this does not mean that I am naively socked in the rain of fantasy that Nigeria is hale and hearty. If our country is in need of medical assistance, why should people be cynical about an attempt to heal her? It’s this strong sense of déjà vu, having witnessed past failures at rebranding Nigeria which ended as a disaster – a bitter memory and a misuse of millions of taxpayers’ money. Unfortunately, neither the country nor her citizens being any better for it, except the PR consultants and their cohorts who had their pockets lined.
Most of the rebranding rumbles have been hinged on the fact that it does not pay to send a malnourished person to have a plastic surgery. Nigeria by all intents, is malnourished. What she needs is food and a very aggressive management of her sickness. I may not concur with the recent survey that declared the country a failed state, at par with countries like Iraq, Sudan and Ethiopia. Nonetheless, Nigeria’s image is in tartars. A situation that has made us the laughing stock of the continent, a big for nothing bully. Nigerians are in most cases synonymous with internet fraud, drug couriers, financial/credit card forgers, in a word a social misfit. This unfortunately has also placed many Nigerians who are engaged in honest pursuits within and without our shores in the same pitiful category.
Thus any attempt at rebranding should go to the root cause of the problem. The criticisms have all being hinged on the shallow attempt in the past to garnish the symptoms with the hope that the illness will be disappear. It is a well known fact that a defective product cannot be turned into a superstar, by the strength of media campaigns only.
I am of the view that a more altruistic rebranding will first focus on the leadership problem. The government should stop paying lip service to corruption. It is obvious that 90% of our image crisis arises from this monster, wash out corruption and you’ll have rebranded Nigeria, period! Nigerians are no fools; it takes a radical commitment to effect such a revolutionary change. Let Aso Rock kick-start the rebranding campaign by kicking out corruption, both in words and in deeds.
The Obama administration recently passed a damming report on the human rights situation in Nigeria. If a country that prides itself as the ‘Giant of Africa’ cannot elect its own leaders, why engage on an impossible mission? The military mindset of might is right has been democratised to win at all costs. Part of the rebranding efforts should include jailing those who steal electoral mandates. Their cohorts; INEC officials, security agents, political thugs and godfathers/mothers should also be made to face the music after each election is annulled. This will certainly rebrand Nigeria!
Madam Minister, if at least these two areas are addressed, only then will your rebranding efforts make an impact. The monumental rebranding of NAFDAC was possible because of the transfusion you injected into a once morbid agency. When NAFDAC woke up to its responsibilities – by burning and banning of fake drugs, and jailing its importers – the Nigerians reciprocated with their support.
When our leaders learn to serve (not their pockets), the followers will tag along. Many have wondered why economic theories that thrived in other climes, fail in Nigeria. If the ‘Nigerian factor’ expressed in ‘let us chop’ is not rebranded, then the economy will remain in ruins. If you are able to rebrand from the top, by pushing your principals to deliver their electoral promises, then Nigerians will forever remain silent. Rebrand Nigeria by stamping out corruption.