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Rebranding Nigeria

Nigeria: Good people, bad leaders

Nigeria has always been a good brand. It does not need to be re branded. Nigeria though a failed state is inherently a great nation. What we need is good management to enable the country fulfil its huge potentials

The country has all the attributes of a good brand. It has the largest market in Africa making any good product or service an instant sell. It is a delight for any investor worth its salt, with the guarantee of good returns. Take the telecom sector as an example. Compterworld Kenya recently published a rating that shows that less than 10 years after the introduction of mobile telephone services, the country now has 61 million telephone subscriber base- the highest in Africa, ahead of South Africa. 

Nigeria is naturally endowed, chief of which is Oil which it produces more than any other African country. What do you say of its rich cultural heritage, its religious diversity and huge follower ship, and the relentlessness of his people that daily overcome all odds to survive the vicissitudes of life?

Whether individually or collectively, Nigerians have distinguished themselves in all fields of endeavour world wide. Its citizens have worn laurels in the field of sports, medicine, technology, Literature, show business, entertainment, religion and many others.

You only rebrand bad product, a worn out product, a product that is not attractive, and a product whose sales is dropping. Nigeria has always been a good product, and Nigerians have always been a good people.

The problem with Nigeria is not with the people but with the leadership. Nigerians have always been a good people, with bad leadership with very few exceptions. Nigeria has the potentialities of being a great nation, but its path to greatness has always been truncated by a vision, spineless, parasitic, and reactionary leadership. Nigeria has good people, but bad leaders. Nigeria has great people, but mediocre leadership.

The current effort to rebrand Nigeria is therefore misplaced and an exercise in futility. It seems to me that the programme was initiated by the Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akinyuli (a woman with an enviable past) to keep herself busy and relevance in a ministry where she is obviously does not fit in. Good woman, wrong ministry, you may say.

Nigeria does not need a re branding. What it needs is a new breed of leadership with a sense of urgency to rebuild the decaying elephant. The Nigerian brand is a world class brand that has been violated, raped, abused, traumatised and subjected to all sorts of indignities by its Marketing Directors and Brand Managers.

I have just read a report on the Haliburton scandal revealing various vagabounds in power that took huge bribes close to $180million under a culturally provocative concept called ‘cultural arrangements’ by the bribe takers. At a stage while reading the report, I had to dropped off the papers because the scandal was too obscene. In this period of false re branding, one would have thought that this millennium expose offers a good opportunity to admit the truth (which is the pinnacle of any public relations efforts), and bring the book the culprits who have turned Nigeria into a good, but failed brand

The first step that needs to be taken towards rebuilding rather than re branding Nigeria is for the assailants of the Nigeria nation to either voluntarily confess their sins and come to repentance or be forced to do so through a dialectical process. Nigeria needs to be rebuild, and this can not be achieved by sloganeering and grandstanding before television cameras.

I listened to the Honourable Minister this evening as he pilloried the ‘Nigeria Heart of Africa’ project initiated by her predecessor, because according to her it was ‘elitist’ and ‘foreign’. I beg to say that the new programme is also guilty of this. The whole concept of rebranding is substantially influenced by the negative image Nigeria enjoys outside its borders. Therefore to a great extent the current attempt is also externally induced.

As a nation, Nigerian is a great nation that does not need to be rebranded. What Nigerians need is enjoyment of the benefits of a good brand that they are. As a country, Nigeria needs to be rebuilt rather than rebranded.

Babatope Babalobi,
Bread of Life Development Foundation, Lagos

April 14, 2009