By Adeola Aderounmu.
On March 17 the project to rebrand Nigeria was launched in Abuja. At the occasion where Yar Adua was represented by Goodluck Jonathan, Dora Akunyili likened her pet project to WAI of the military era. It is shocking that this launching became a reality less than one week after Dora was sweating and lamenting at the National assembly where she was summoned to defend the funding for the project.
At that hearing she lied when she said that the rebranding is by Nigerians and for Nigerians. Which Nigerians was she talking about- mama Risi who is selling rice on the street or Papa Victor who does not know how to get to work tomorrow? Could she be talking about the loads of unemployed Nigerians?
Prior to this launching which would have gulped millions or billions of naira on its own, I have read with dismay the call to rebrand Nigeria. It is one of the most inappropriate calls I’ve heard in recent time which unfortunately and tragically has now been realized.
If Dora Akunyili and the pro-branders are not aware, then may I humbly tell them that Nigeria cannot be rebranded? The obvious brand-able things in Nigeria since 1959 are corruption, underdevelopment and massive looting.
It is true that some countries go for branding in order to promote their national businesses and trade. But at this point Dora and her protagonists (especially those seeking political favours) must be told that branding or rebranding as being loosely tagged in this case is not the same as tourism promotion.It is also absolutely not the same as Idiagbon’s WAI.
Malaysia-truly Asia is one of the most popular tourism promotion slogans on CNN. That is not branding. To bring people to Malaysia for tourism, the country has done a lot of work to raise the country from being under-developed to a growing world economy. Malaysia boasts one of south-east Asia’s most vibrant economies, the fruit of decades of industrial growth and political stability-(BBC)
Nigeria does not need rebranding. This project will amount to another white elephant project that will drain the treasury. Even the lazy lawmakers in Abuja were shocked as they do not even know where the money for the project would be coming from. Their fears cannot be described as genuine anyway because as political jobbers/opportunists, they will not let any amount of money fly in their faces without their own cuts. But after Dora’s visit the deal was sealed and delivered!
Dora should have diverted her “informative” energy inwards. She should be informing the concerned authorities about the urgent need to provide this country with constant electricity, good roads, security of lives and property, good schools for all, employment opportunities, sense of belonging, human dignity, respect, voting rights, rewards for labour, and dividends of (true democracy).
The Nigerian leadership has an obligation to ensure transparency in governance, prosecutions of corrupt people in both public and private offices and preservation of the institutions on which the unity of the country resides. After doing these things and much more to improve the standard and quality of lives, the branding is then complete.
There is no greater branding than the quality of lives that the people have. If Dora Akunyili is representing Nigeria at a global fair say in Canada for example, how would she rebrand Nigeria to the business community? Should they start their businesses in Nigeria and import electricity from Europe or America? I have no doubts in my mind that rebranding is the making of a shallow non-creative mind.
Elusive Electoral Reform
Probably the most important proposal on the recommendations of the Electoral Committee set up by Umaru Yar Adua was overturned by Yar Adua himself and his co-travelers. The ideology behind the FEC decision is to promote dictatorship rather than preserving the constitutional roles of a president. Nigerian politicians in their myopism do not always see the need for positive changes and progress.
Nigerians should insist as they have done now on the retention of all the recommendations of the Electoral Committee. Total expunging of the operations of the present Electoral Commission is one of the several useful steps towards building a true democracy for Nigeria. We are yet to democratize Nigeria and the longer we wait, the lower our standard of living drops. All forms of dictatorial tendencies should be vehemently resisted.
The electoral committee gave a landmark proposition in suggesting that laid down procedures should be followed in the appointment of an Independent Electoral Commission chairman. My interpretation of the procedures is that the process should rest on an institution and not on a person.
That institutions, and not persons, do function is paramount to building a successful society or nation. Many institutions in Nigeria including the office of the presidency have failed because they depend on people rather than viable blueprints and guidelines.
What is about to be taken away from Nigerians yet again by Yar Adua and the FEC is the golden opportunity to build one of the outstanding pillars on which the survival of this nation should rest upon. For as long as our elections do not work because of our malformed behaviours and absence of credible electoral institutions, then hardly will anything work out well.
The temporal man in charge of Nigeria learned too quickly the national mentality of Nigerians and obviously he is riding high on that belief that Nigerians have short memory-they forget how things should be done the right way. Perhaps they don’t even know how things should be done because since their colonial master left in 1960, they have not put one right step forward, democratically. Goodluck Jonathan was right; rebranding Nigeria will not work like Big Bang. However, only a Big Bang can put Nigeria on the world 20 by 2020.