I was reading a note on Facebook by one Otunba Abiola Falajo quoting Professor Dora Akunyili, accusing Nigerians in the Diaspora of always running down their country. Well, I’ve heard people in government make this kind of remarks in the past and I feel unusually energized to say something about this.
No Nigerian within the borders of our homeland can claim to love Nigeria more that those of us in the Diaspora. Frank Iweke (Jnr) sang the same tune while he was globe-trotting with his Heart of Africa project and now, 1.25 billion naira after, we all know what came out of it.
I was in the same hall on the 24th of February, 2007 when Mr. Nweke spoke so sweetly to a listening audience of Nigerians in Houston about the need to clean up the image of Nigeria. Even though, a few people in the audience thought it was another opportunity to waste the resources so badly needed to fix things back home, majority still gave the then minister of information listening ears. Is it not wise then, to put on the table how 1.25 billion naira was spent of this similar exercise and the corresponding result?
Why do our leaders always act in such a way as to suggest that Nigerians are all fools? In other places, you don’t just sweep a major project under the carpet and come up with another one and expect people to applaud.
If Nigerians in the Diaspora are the worst critics of Nigerian governments (emphasized), it is because they have become enlightened to see life differently.
No doubt, Nigeria is a country whose image has been heavily battered and can use some image make-over. But are the negative things said about us all wrong? You don’t treat eczema by applying make up over it. Are our leaders corrupt, or not? Are our people suffering in the midst of abundance, or not?
A good business manager would tell you good branding starts with the product itself, not the packaging. Take Lagos. Three years ago, Osodi was depicted in an ABC documentary as one of the worst places on earth. But today, the transformation of Osodi is not only a pride to Lagos but the whole of Nigeria. A demonstration of who we are, if only we put the right people in government. Need I emphasize that the way people now see Lagos and the government over Lagos was not achieved via a government campaign slogan and fanciful logo.
While, I hold Prof Akinyuli in high esteeem for her patriotic work at NAFDAC, I believe the Rebranding idea was designed to smear her record. Up till today, we still have people in government acquring choice estates in major US cities and other parts of the worls with money stolen out of Nigeria while our people back home can not boast of something close to decent living.
I know those who want to blind-fold us would say there’s no country in the world where there is no corruption. I agree. But what they fail to tell us is why more people get away with looting in Nigeria than in other decent societies we like to emulate? It is only in our land that people with serious corruption allegations are recycled from government to government. In other societies, people resign their appointments in dignity. But looters in Nigeria will sit tight and fight to the finish, always claiming to do it in the interest of the people.
Rather than making sweeping remarks at Nigerians in the Diaspora, Nigerian leaders should demonstrate genuine love for our land and our people by talking less and acting more in making life worth living for Nigerians.
I guess my point is: the prof and her team should begin the rebranding idea at the door steps of these people.
I have spoken.