Nation Branding: How to Create a sustainable New Narrative for Nigeria
For a long time, Nigeria has made a few attempts at nation branding but without discernible achievement. Maybe it’s because it takes the problem from the surface and leaves the root cause. From the ‘Good people, Great Nation’ to ‘Fascinating Nigeria’ concepts, there is still unending search for the right path for the future.
All well-deserved appreciation to the late Doral Akunyili, former Minister of Information and Director General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) for championing the cause for new perception of Nigeria against the erroneous impression that Nigerians are corrupt, lazy and unproductive but to see the ingenuity of the country and its citizens.
But despite the humungous amount spent on the campaign, it was like a wild goose chase because it doesn’t address the core problems of the country.
There have been many events, platforms, and seminars organised in the country by and addressed by academic scholars, media & Communications practitioners and people of all strata of the economy. Mostly, the clarion call has been for people to come together, discuss and change the narrative of Nigeria. They also seek to dissect and understand why bad news about Nigeria overshadows the good ones and the position of the Western media fanning the embers of bad news rather than giving vent to the positive stories emanating from the country.
Surely, a quick search of Nigeria online will probably give negative results 10× more than the good one and this has been the case for a long time. But the question is; “Did the bad news really happen?” Are the international news media deliberately telling the bad news about Nigeria?
At a recent event organised by Livespot 360, a digital marketing communication company based in Lagos tagged UNCODE, the narrative of Nigeria also came to fore at the session.
During her presentation, Deola Aromiwura, Digital Strategist, Livespot 360, opined that as Nigerians, we should “create our narratives”.
According to her, bad news about Nigeria is everywhere and not necessarily the international media telling bad stories about Nigeria but even the local media pay more attention to the bad news!
She furthered that the bad news about Nigeria if not totally true, it’s a half-truth because news being reported in various media platforms mostly happened maybe more embellished, garnished or sensationalised.
It this is so, she reckoned the way out of this protracted challenge, is “behavioural and attitudinal change above mere re-branding and re-telling stories”.
A legal practitioner, Barrister Mujeeb Oluwafemi was also of the opinion that Nigeria needs cleansing and not just packaging.
“We have been told many times to say positive stories about the country, but it is hypocrisy to keep saying the brighter news while neglecting the other one. Event happens and must be reported for actions to be taken” says Barrister Oluwafemi.
“A good product sells itself. You can’t put a new wine inside a dirty bottle and expect a premium! I can tell you without any reservations, that nothing kills a bad product like advertising. If you advertise what you are not and people find out your false claim, it portends a collateral damage to your brand’ Oluwafemi emphatically declares.
Nigeria is facing problems that need to be told and addressed. We shouldn’t be covering the obvious but seek for solutions. “From police harassment, SARS killings and extortions, corruption, insecurity, wasteful spending by politicians, false allegations against individuals in government, illegal detention, government disobeying court orders, unemployment, infrastructural decay, disobedience to laws, kidnapping and more”, all these make the totality of the country, they should be addressed and necessary solutions proffered and implemented. There and then, we can start the proper and effective rebranding processing as against these numerous wishful thinking journeys, he concluded.
The recent BBC’s story on “Sex for grades” activities going on in our tertiary institutions is a case in point. It speaks to the rot in our citadel of learning. If these things are not reported, it would only become the modus operandi (as it mostly is) by uncultured lecturers to take advantage of female students.
These are issues confronting this country and “no level of PR can cover these atrocities unless it’s addressed”.
Summing up, Oluwafemi insists that the leadership and the led should address these issues, create practical and visible solutions (not just compelling Nigerians to say the good sides), the narrative can then take its root from the practical solutions and new ways of life. “It’s even unachievable when the bad news supersede the good one; hardly would a week pass by without cases of police brutality reported, so are we saying it shouldn’t be reported? No! The best way is to look inward and fight the menace”.