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 dishonest, 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 injury.
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.”Nigeria 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 dollars.
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 of Guns and Roses; media star Adaora Udoji and sport stars Christian Okoye, Nnamdi Asomugha, and many others can be employed to be the spokespersons for the country.
Nigeria 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. Nigeria to be respectful and relevant in 21st century she must rise to the challenge of self transformation and revitalization.
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