For Nigerians who think the rebranding Nigeria project has failed, the Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi also thinks so.
Fayemi, who was a guest speaker at the 2013 Verdant Zeal lecture series held in Lagos on Friday, took a swipe at the project, saying it could be summed up as a failure due to eroded values.
The Governor declared that the failure of successive administrations to articulate a strategic national vision made it almost impossible for the country to achieve desired goals in the area of branding.
The event themed “Beyond Branding: Building Lasting Values for Nigeria’s Growth”, attracted several brand icons and government functionaries within the country.
On re-branding Nigeria’s image Fayemi contended that there must be a set of core values and ideals that guide the nation’s entire socio-political and economic life before re-branding could take effect.
He however noted that institutional transformation that Nigeria needs may not be achieved by just rhetoric statements, but the willingness to restore values to the front burner . He said this willingness would only be achieved by exemplary leadership
Continuing he said that the most powerful example of nation-re-branding in Africa is that of South Africa which within the short span of a decade moved from being known in international circles as a racist enclave ruled by white supremacists to a multiracial democracy.
Expantiating on the example, he said that South Africa moved from being a pariah apartheid state to the “rainbow nation.” This profound change involved changes not just in the country’s totems such as its national flag but also a recalibration of South Africa’s institutional settings to more adequately reflect her aspirations as a land of many races, colours and creeds woven together in democratic freedom.
It put in place measures and institutions to guarantee a smooth transition and also to ensure that the bitter memories of apartheid would not lead to a racial civil war as many pundits widely expected.
Instead, having swiftly ended apartheid, and elected Nelson Mandela, the world’s best known political prisoner as president; South Africa set about righting historical wrongs with the establishment of a Truth Commission.
Within a few years, she had hosted the Rugby World Cup and the African Cup of Nations football tournament. In 2010, she became the first ever African country to host the FIFA world cup. Today, she is Africa’s largest economy.
He went further to say that the architecture of a national brand connects values, service-delivery, quality control, ideals and standard operating procedures, in a seamless garment of national identity, whilst saying that national identity is both implicit and explicit in the rhetoric and conduct of the national elites.
He however noted that the former Minister of Information Professor Dora Akunyili, made an effort in trying to give Nigeria a new image, but despite the intentions, the campaign was not only dismissed by most Nigerians, which invariable failed to gain traction.
Further he noted that the attempts at branding and re-branding Nigeria failed because most Nigerians expressed the position that the problem was with the brand and not with the branding process.
“The reason why nations continue to shape and reshape their identities is because their reality changes and they need to project this real change symbolically to all the audiences, internal and external, with whom they relate.” he observed.
“Finally he said that branding is not about crafting propaganda or marketing illusions. It is fundamentally about our ethos, our character as a people, how we want to organize our society and how we want to be perceived in the world.”
Speaking in the same line with the Governor, Mr Udeme Ufot, Managing Director of SO&u Saatchi Saatchi, said that Nigeria requires branding to play in the comity of nations.
According to him, we need values and leadership driving the banding process by their leadership prowess which will invariably impact on the society. [VN]