The Futility of Re-branding Nigeria

With the benefit of hindsight and without any attempt to over-flog the issues that have been generated by the re-branding Nigeria project, the Minister of Information and National Orientation Professor Dora Akunyuli would by now have painfully realized that the re-branding Nigeria project which she kicked off with an impressive ceremony in the first quarter of 2009 is an exercise in futility…a mere chasing after the winds.

The reason as she must have now sadly realized is not to be found in the ordinary “naturally” good people of Nigeria (not because her slogan say so) but in the actions of some of her colleagues in high places- the Presidency, legislatives arms, politicians, judiciary and law enforcement agents who are continuously making sure that the re-branding Nigeria project is shot down before it got on to any “distractive” start.

Events in the polity in the months following the launch of the re-branding Nigeria project have confirmed that if anything, the re-branding campaign should be targeted at those who have found themselves piloting the affairs of the state rather than to ordinary Nigerians who are clearly victims of their actions.

These officials have demonstrated that the re-branding project is an irritating “distraction” from the status quo of official deceit, mischief, lies and corruption. Since the Ekiti State election re-run, which commentators have dubbed a lost opportunity at re-branding, events occurring in quick succession have put a lie on the ruse called re-branding.

While Professor Dora Akunyuli continues to play the ostrich with the re-branding (now she is taking to the thirty-six states) our country continues to reel under one form of crises and scandals to the other. Yes no country is immune from crisis but ours are the ones resulting from corrupt tendencies of men and women who are consumed in their own selfishness rather than the common good.

The highly placed “good people from this great nation” in Abuja continues to have other plans which do not include the values inherent in the re-branding Nigeria project dubbed. At the height of the re-branding campaign, the fraudulent election in Ekiti was won and lost much to the bewilderment of ordinary Nigerians and the international community.

The incumbent Governor sits pretty on a stolen mandate. But the election was to prove a severe test for Akunyuli’s re-branding project. In a debacle she was later to play a prominent role; she re-branded (no pun intended) the election “free and fair” and barely mentioned the violence and killings in front of local and international media. But this is not about Ekiti, that incident would soon be consigned to history and we have also moved on…we are a nation that forgets.

Also in the heat of the re-branding campaign, the Halliburton saga quickly confirmed the place of Nigeria as a haven of corruption where local officials are always on hand to collaborate with foreign crooks to impoverish the ordinary good people of Nigeria But before we could say “Halli” some law makers have had their hands soiled.

A whopping six billion meant to put light into the homes of rural folks called “rural electrification” have disappeared. Investigation is ongoing. A lot of noise will be generated. Palms will be greased. Investigation into the matter will continue…it will go in the way of all other investigations… but the re-branding continues.

Nigerians continues to die in their thousands in a country that boasts of some of the most dangerous roads in the world. After ten years of democracy, the Shagamu-Benin roads and countless of others are daily claiming lives of the “good people” of Nigeria. Of what use is re-branding to ordinary Nigerians who cannot arrive at his or her destination in one piece? Of what use is re-branding to dead compatriots or those who have lost their loved ones and breadwinners to bad roads?

How can you talk of re-branding Nigeria when even the Presidency cannot deliver on its promises to international organizations? Take for example, the debacle surrounding the hosting of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup. The FIFA team led by the Vice President Jack Warner has been here several times to inspect our state of preparedness. Nigeria sought for an extension. In May when the FIFA team came, they met a nation unprepared.

Did you read the statement by FIFA team? He advised Nigerian officials including Vice President Jonathan Goodluck to always keep to promises, deadlines and commitments. They have now learnt just like ordinary Nigerians that promises made by our leaders should be taken with a pinch of salt…so much for re-branding. If the hosting right is taken away from Nigeria…officials responsible including the office of the Vice President should cover their faces in shame. It will be another lost opportunity for Professor Dora Akunyuli to drive “home the good people, great nation” slogan.

The Minister has however taken a step further by taking the re-branding Nigeria campaign to the thirty six states where they will be fêted by Governors in the States Houses. Will she also visit the impoverished nook and crannies of the country with no electricity, good roads, dilapidated infrastructures, run down public schools, villages where high mortality rates have made life a misery due to the scourges of malaria and hunger?

Will she also visit the creeks of Niger Delta and preach re-branding to the wretched of the earth- malnourished children, defenseless women and elderly who have been ravaged by the booming guns of our Federal troops? But wait a minute! Of what use is re-branding citizens who are daily traumatized by vagaries of living in a country where daily living has become a task? A country where ten years of democracy has yielded nothing but continuous suffering of the masses, where law enforcement are daily harassing and killing innocent citizens, where official corruption is the order of the day?

How can you hope to re-brand a country still living in the Stone Age with no electricity? You can not possibly re-brand a country that is one of the largest producers of crude oil in the world but whose citizens suffer perennial fuel scarcity. What re-branding message would you preach to the army of unemployed youths that are becoming a security threat to the country?

Across Europe and in other parts of the world, some Nigerian scammers are daily wrecking havoc and doing more to batter the already tainted image of Nigeria. Their fraudulent activities are daily rubbishing the good deeds of innocent Nigerians in the Diaspora. They have been driven to this desperate end by the activities of corrupt leaders.

At home local 419 or “yahoo boys” have increased their activities. They are emboldened by an EFCC that can now only bark but not bite. Ordinary Nigerians are no fools. They don’t care about this re-branding project. They know that indicted former Governors and highly placed officials with established cases with the anti-corruption agencies are walking free today and would soon be left alone to enjoy their loot. Nobody will ever go to jail.

So why talk about re-branding when ordinary citizens cannot get justice in the law courts? How can you possibly re-brand a people and a nation whose leaders rule with impunity and demonstrate complete disregard for the people, spending their resources without a care in the world? Go to Oyo State, especially Ibadan and see how not to govern a state.

The tragedy of the re-branding project and other programmes is that sincere leaders like Professor Dora Akunyuli are clear example of having good people in government who have become sheep among wolves. Often with good intention to serve and make a difference, their good intentions and programmes are consumed by the greed and mischief of the self-serving majority.

A lot of damages have been done to the p

olity that will require genuine efforts and sincerity of purpose to address the ill of the past. As long as there are leaders who get into power through corrupt elections, then good intentions of a few good people will amount to nothing. How far will the re-branding Nigeria project go? What effect will it have on the people and international community in the face of glaring mis-governance and corruption among Nigerian leaders? Only time will tell.

Written by
Bayo Olupohunda
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