Congratulations on your appointment as the honourable minister of information under the new administration of President Bola Tinubu.
Before your appointment, Mr Lolu Akinwunmi, group managing director of Prima Garnet and former president of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, under the supervision of the late Dr Dora Akunyili had the rebranding Nigeria task.
Sir, could you please review the documents? I am convinced that the solutions recommended will be relevant and valid today, except there was no document to review.
I am writing this letter based on your lending support to the news that Dr Lekan Fadolapo, director general of the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON), has set up a new committee led by Steve Babaeko, president, Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, with the mandate to examine the country’s brand DNA to develop communication that will resonate with our people, promote our cultural diversity and enhance our nation’s value and ethics.
We have travelled on this road before, and many people in and outside the advertising circle spoke and documented their thoughts on the subject. However, with this new development, it appears that we are about to start another jamboree on Rebranding Nigeria when we have deliberately and collectively ignored the fundamentals of nation-building.
Sir, why do we want to search for the DNA of a nation without revisiting the people’s values? In the public space, it has become difficult to agree on black or white without conditions. We want to discover the DNA of a country to develop communications when policies presented are seemingly unfriendly to the people.
A country known for its oil and gas yet unable to produce. A country known for its agricultural capacity yet unable to feed its citizens. The same beautiful people with culture and traditions already known and accepted through industries like Nollywood and music are talking about rebranding themselves.
Who are we trying to talk to? Two audiences that the rebranding subject will attempt to engage. One is the internal audience of the nation, the citizens. What do we want to say to the citizens that is far better than the experience of the citizens when they can read daily the spending or lifestyle of the men and women within the corridors of power, or do we look at the experiences of the citizens in education health, electricity and water?
These are things that enable citizens to conclude what a nation represents, not the colours, words or sounds they hear. It is what they experience in their daily interactions in the market, offices and neighbourhood that’s the true brand reflection of a nation to the citizens.
The second are members of the international community, investors, tourists and more. What gives them the information that makes them have an opinion about a nation and then form a perception? It is a combination of activities of the country from the government to the people, which is why when the government through its behaviour is sending out that mixed signal about the type of country we are, citizens such as Burna Boy and Davido are dropping content that enables a conversation of interest better than the government.
Today, depending on who you are talking to and where you are speaking from, the nation is not suffering an identity crisis but rather a mixed bag of personality defects due to the values we have projected individually and collectively.
Sir, why are we talking about rebranding and talking advertising? Nigeria is a moving billboard due to the various activities we project among ourselves and the international communities.
If we want to own the conversation, we need to look inward and ask questions such as what gave rise to the series of conversations that shape our perception and what are the things influencing the behaviour of the average Nigerian?
We should also ask the question about the role and responsibilities of the activities of the national Orientation agencies. What are they doing? What is the action programme for the year? And what level of research are they doing and responding to?
We have a galloping reputation as a nation. We need communications from the official quarters but our conversation can’t start from looking for what to say anymore, we should be looking at solving the bundle of issues that has created a perception crisis for a nation such as ours.
Permit me to add that the national orientation agency should be held accountable and they should have a report for the citizens to see and possibly review.
It is time for us as a nation to also ask the big question and call those responsible for Education, health and water resources the fundamental question about expected service. These are sectors shaping the Brand Nigeria narratives.
Rebranding a nation starts from inside with a fundament address to the issues affecting citizens because they are the first consumers of the nation as well as the sellers of the nation to the external public (the International Community).
To rebrand Nigeria or embark on destination marketing, we should look for quick wins and fix them.
I know someone will say there is no country without issues, yet we are all interested in those other countries because there is a clear perception of the country’s value.
What is the Nigeria’s value?
It is time every government organ or agency interacts with the Ministry of Information and National Orientation with a message that underlines the fact that the behaviour of those ministries and agencies are what the public will see and note.
There should be an evaluation of ministries or agencies’ contribution to the perception of the public.
I commend you for supporting this initiative. Please also ensure that there is a clear goal or clear expected outcome from this initiative.
Thank you sir.
- Mr Ekine, a marketing communication specialist and consumer advocate, wrote from Lagos