Nigeria: Re-branding and the Image of a Nation in the 21st century

by Emeka Chiakwelu

Image of a nation might as well be the destiny

of a nation. Nigeria‘s

disfigured image in the global village has become an insignia of dishonesty,

dishonor and disrespect; this is outright humiliation of a nation of almost 150

million people. Majority of Nigerians are industrious, God-fearing and law abiding

people. But a tiny minority is destroying the image of the country and the

governance ineptitude is adding salt to the


Consequentially, Nigeria

is in self-doubt, bedeviled with nihilism, lethargy and encompassing

corruption. Now comes the climax, a Nigerian was associated with terrorism and

finally the image of the country is demolished. What Nigeria needs is genuine

re-branding and re-alignment that is not cosmetics but rooted in truth,

pragmatism and an affirmative change.

“There’s no arguing that the image we have of another country says a

lot about how we view it as a tourist destination, a place to invest or a

source of consumer goods.” And the rest of world’s perception about Nigeria will

affect her pocket and economy because less people will be incline to invest and

travel to the country. A nation re-branding is not peculiar to Nigeria; many countries including Germany and Japan

were re-branded at the end of Second War World: Now Germany and Japan are known

as liberal democracies with peaceful and progressive policies. South Africa

was re-branded with an image of gentle and cheerful multicultural country at

the end of Apartheid.

The litany of Nigerian sins and misbehaviors are no longer a news to the entire

world, as the world have come to see the intractable problems of Nigeria as

threat to global financial and economic stability. Nigeria is known for e-mail fraud,

manipulation of established standard operations and now for terrorism.

The peril of this dented image is taking its toil on the average citizen of Nigeria who

cannot freely travel nor conduct international business. Nigeria with

all the wealth she generated from oil and local revenues cannot provide the

basic necessities of life to her populace.

Many Nigerians are quick to point accusing fingers to the country’s leadership

but fail to see themselves as part and parcel of the unworkable Nigeria. By no

means, nobody is excluding the elite and ruling class from the generated mess

but the masses cannot fold their hands and anticipate a change to initiate

itself. The average Nigerians must also shoulder some responsibilities by

shunning corruption including coming to work on time and rejecting short

/dubious path to wealth accumulation.

There are enduring and lingering ramifications that are associated with poor

and disastrous image of a nation. The financial and economic impact is

overwhelming especially on the wealth of nation, wealth creation and GDP. The

wealth of nation and its creation must involve the attraction of foreign

capitals and manpower. No serious capitalist desire to invest his wealth in a

nation of untrustworthy people. Subsequently, economic downturn does give rise

to mammoth unemployment; that can trigger instability and inability for government

to protect lives and properties.

In 21st century of inter connecting world, an image can help to lift up a

nation and this is exactly why many nations are very protective of their

images. Once an image of a nation is tarnished it becomes an arduous if not an

impossible task to reverse the trend. The only hope for Nigeria is that

an image of a nation is neither indelible nor etched in stone. For Nigeria it is

never too late to commence to make the affirmative moves in the comprehensive

transformation of the country’s image.

The total transformation of Nigeria‘s image must be deliberate,

coherent and self-evident. This is not going to be superficial, a tinkering at

the peripheral with piecemeal characteristics similar to toddler step taken by

respectful Dora Akunyili, Nigerian Minister of Information, as she tries to

re-brand her country. With all due respect, her tactics of blaming game is

self-defeating, incoherent and contradicts her objective. Re-branding and image

making of a nation is not a singular act but a collective effort of patriots

including men and women of goodwill.

In paper presentation on Vision 2020 Nigerian project, I reiterated the

importance of Nigeria‘s

Image Management: “Nigerian policy and decision makers have not certainly explored

the power of image making. The image of a nation both abstract and aesthetic

speaks a volume of the nation. Nigeria

must be able to tell the world that she is ripe for investment and tourism

without obstruction. No foreign institutions or countries can tell the world

about Nigeria

more than Nigerians could do. Nigeria

cannot afford to be NAIVE and NONCHALANT.”


must undergo fundamental paradigm change and must be focused on a path of

transformation and progress. It is not going to be a picnic nor an ego trip but

a deliberate act with superior intellectual power to give birth to a new Nigeria. This

is not about hiring international image consultants that will cost millions of


It is about Nigeria

and Nigerians undergoing a candid self examination and making decision to do

the right thing for the interest of her citizens, our children and posterity.

When the fundamental changes are made, then Nigeria

may hire media specialist and spokesperson to tell the story of the new Nigeria to the

world. Many well known people of Nigerian heritage including musical superstars

Sade, Seal, Slash; media star Adaora Udoji and sport stars Christian Okoye,

Nnamdi Asomugha, and many others can be employed to be the spokespersons for

the country.


at this point in time is left with one alternative which is to rebuild her

image if she desires to be relevant in geo-political and economic affairs of

our shrinking global village. If Nigeria

fails to travel the pathway of revival, reawakening and rebirth she will end up

becoming a sinking ship and diminishing giant of Africa.


to be respectful and relevant in 21st century she must rise to the challenge of

self transformation and revitalization.

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