RE: Open Letter to Hon. Minister

Reactions of PRNigeria forumites.

Dear Shuaib,

Your letter, professional road map is very clear and in line with our framework. We have engaged stakeholders since we resumed to share ideas. We have equally appraised our current policy thrust as a ministry and examined the challenges.

We are confident that the framework which we have prepared for stakeholders input will meet acceptable standard or benchmark. The National Council on Information will meet soon to give their input and approval.

We will require your assessment from time to time to be the watchdog to keep us in check. We place high premium on the participation of Nigeria media in the image Project for Nigeria. Our roles and responsibilities will be defined.

Best wishes and thank you.

Sincerely yours,

John Odey

What a very good, exciting and courageous write – ups!  Yushau’s piece has in a way identified major areas in which the new Information Minister could make a difference in managing Nigeria’s battered image. My worry, however, is the institutional error of lumping the Ministries of Information with Communication committed the Obasanjo Administration.

Agreed that the two concepts of Information and Communication centre around passing out messages, but we must recognize the fact that they are not the same. While information talks about the contents of the message and their impacts, communication deals with the media particularly technological through which the messages are disseminated. This distinction is very important for clear definition of focus and agenda setting on the part of those charged with these responsibilities.

Any person or institution charged with managing the reputation of a diverse country like Nigeria, mobilising the vast majority of the citizenry and conflict resolution has enough task in information management than to be bothered on how the seemingly related but totally strange task of finding out whether NIPOST still delivers letters in Nigeria or the GSM / Subscribers palaver.

The task of information management, building reputation is enough task for any Minister of Information and adding Communication to what has been elusive responsibility in Nigeria is unnecessary and, at best, a costly distraction.

I think Yushau deserves to be commended for having the courage to speak to his Minister on the pages of newspapers or is the National Press Centre not under the Ministry of Information?  I hope the Directors and the strings of bosses are not already fuming over this act of insubordination. This boldness promises to usher a new era in the Federal Civil Service.

Isiaka Yahaya

It is very interesting to note that a serving minister is a member of our group and indeed responded to issues regarding his ministry. Perhaps, I should seize this opportunity to address the Honourable Minister directly on the Image Project.

My comments are twofold:

1. The Image Project, to my mind, is a PR campaign, and the best form of PR is that which speaks after acting and not vice versa. What I mean, and I think Yushau raised the matter in his letter, is that a good product markets itself. It is absolutely ludicrous to attempt to ‘market’ a country, which lacks basic amenities and infrastructure like good roads, water, electricity, good schools and good hospitals. It is even more laughable to make such a move when the country in question earns billions of petro-dollars daily with nothing to show for it. The gap between our resources and our prosperity is mind-blowing. In between the continuum live all the crooks inside and outside of government milking the country dry and giving it a bad image. There are many issues, Your Excellency. Check:

Iraq, which has been under severe onslaught by ‘Allied Forces’, is said to have electricity supply at 70%! And Nigeria, which is only under siege by armed robbers, cannot boast of 20%! So what are we selling?

How do we attract foreigners in terms of tourism and other investments, when the security of lives and property exists only in the breach? What are the tourists’ attractions in Nigeria today? Where they exist, how might people get there? Malaysia, Turkey, Spain, Latvia, even Angola showcase world class tourism destinations on CNN, and certainly attract a lot of dollars.

The Metropolitan Police is reputed to be the highest paying government job for fresh graduates in the UK because they wish to attract brilliant people. Today, the Nigerian police are perhaps the least paid in the world. And so they are ill-motivated. Yet, we arm them with automatic weapons! They fuel their patrol cars, buy bullets, buy uniforms and maintain their immediate and extended families, with the pittance they earn at the end of the month?

Thousands of young graduates are roaming the streets jobless. The criminally-minded ones have taken to armed robbery and hostage-taking to eke a living! And no one can stop them because our ill-equipped Policemen can only confront them at the risk of their lives.

The minister of Works and Transport purportedly tendered unreserved (read undeserved) apologies to Nigerians on the state of the Lagos-Benin road, but what has she done to the huge crater on the road leading into Abuja from Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (the country’s gateway, so to say)?

Still want to go ahead with the Image Project? Or rest it until we get our acts right? I mean, how would the average Chinese take a TVC on Nigeria, when one of their nationals has been ‘missing’ in Anambra state for the past 7 months? We must first ask ourselves, what image has Nigeria got. The answer, honest answer (not the one from paid consultants) will lead us aright. As a country, we are finished in terms of international reputation.

2. Following from the above, I suggest someone should have the professionalism and good sense of occasion to put the so called Image Project on ice until we get the basics right. We need to urgently embark on an ethical revolution (national re-orientation) to begin to change people’s attitudes. Of course, the success of this will depend on what our so called leaders do in terms of examples. If our leaders begin to show good examples, the people will fall in line. Those who don’t must be punished to deter others. Then, the government should immediately address the issues I raised above and others. I have said it so many times, and I want to say it again, that most Nigerians wouldn’t give a hoot about who’s in Aso Rock or the other lesser government houses if basic infrastructure and security are provided and working. People of other countries, justifiably, laugh at Nigeria for being unable to manage the incredible human and natural resources God bequeathed on us as a country.

Permit me to round off with this joke: The Heads of State of other countries of the world led by George Bush went to protest to God for over-blessing Nigeria(at their own detriment), and God said to them wait till you see the leaders I am going to give them. End of story. Over to you, Honourable Minister!

And thanks for joining the group. We shall be sharing more thoughts with you.

Emeka

Emeka,

I fully share your views and attendant frustration on the state of affairs in our dear Country and how difficult it is to muster the courage for marketing her image to a discerning public. Be that as it may, we cannot deny the fact that a couple of positive developments have and are taking place in this country to address your aforementioned challenges. My take on the debate is as follows:

Keeping quiet and doing nothing (until all the issues are all resolved) is not an option. It reinforces the view of nay sayers that ours is a lost cause.

Articulating (factually) what our challenges in the country are and what the government is doing about them is surely desirable – here, the Hon. Minister has an invaluable role to play. Kindly note that there should be no spin. We shall call this our road map.

We, as committed Nigerians and PR practitioners must continue using this forum to ensure that the government’s attention is constantly focussed on the delivery of the road map and/or providing explanation to the outside world as to why targets are not/cannot be achieved. – I am encouraged that we have this unbureacratic medium for making our input to the honourable minister.

We must publicise our achievements as loudly as our ‘failures’ are amplified – afterwards, PR is about balanced communication.

We must note that the sorry state of the perception of our image by the outside world is mainly because there has been no sustained and factual presentation of what efforts are being made and what successes (be they mnior) have been recorded in the management of our challenges. I posit that since there is no room for communication void in our globalised world, a school, intent on doing our country incalculable damage has comfortably occupied the space and has successfully struck fear into the minds of those who may have alternative views. Note that it takes only one well-amplified failure to blight ten successes!!!

I suggest that we become brave enough to celeberate whatever we do right in this country and therefrom derive the energy for tackling what is still wrong with us. Ours is not a lost case and we must jointly occupy the communication space with those who only see what is wrong with us. Our views must be factual and auditable. We owe it to the outside world to know that we are not comfortable with our state of affairs and are doing our darned best at tackling them (I trust the Hon Minister accents to this view). Lets not concentrate on only the missing tiles in a beautiful roof. There are other parts of the roof to celeberate.

Larry.

I am impressed to see the sense of humililty and responsibility exhibited by the Hon. Minister by responding immediately to a writer, I presumed to be one of his staff, in a encouraging and intelligent manner. His decency, promptness and the vision he has for the ministry should be commended, while we urge him, as he has proved so far, to be better than former holders of that office. Reading other contributors too in this forum to the reaction of the Minister, especially Osai and Emeka, we are already helping him on the request for ideas and engagement for a better image project. I believe this former PDP spokesperson has good dream and vision for this country. Let’s pray for his success.

Mary

From the response of the Honourable Minister of Information to Shuaib’s letter, it appears we’ve at last got the kind of minister we desire/deserve; a listening minister. May the humility and sense of committment he exhibited in the correspondence manifest practically and abundantly as he discharges his ministerial responsibilities in the days ahead.

Visit me at: http://www.EverythinLiterature.blogspot.com

Umaisha,

I say a solid AMENto this prayer by my brother Sumaila.

8ical

As a close observer, I’m not surprised that Mr. Minister will be swift to respond to Shuaib’s letter and moreso in a humble and responsible manner. This is one man who I’ve watched closely since he assumed office. His mien speaks volume and gives the average civil servant in the ministry he is saddled to lead a measure of hope of good things to come. As a man of purpose, he was quick to take a tour of the entire Ministry of Information and Communications, its agencies, parastatals and commisions to get a first hand understanding of the issues confronting them. I shall not forget how he has a touch with even the lowest cadre of staff especially during his office-to-office inspection and staff felt at home with his personality. A wonderful man…without any sense of favour. Infact those of us who appreciate that things are done in the right way are happy to have this man on board in the hope that it sparks off a new beginning to tackling some of the issues raised by Shuaib.

Marshall

Dear Marshall,

I have learnt not to be carried away by “entry behaviours”.

As far as many of us are concerned, John Odey is a PDP stalwart, who has been rewarded for his loyalty and “excellent job” as the party’s spokesman. It is now up to him to prove to us that he is the man.

No doubt, he is obviously well-equipped for the job having managed something similar for the party, and given his academic and professional pedigree.

As a private sector practitioner, I am not taken in by his “touch with even the lowest cadre of staff especially during his office-to-office inspection”. I am driven by results.

According to William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar, “cheerfulness is young ambitions ladder…” So we must be cautious not to roll out the drums for the Minister yet.

I am not a pessimist but they say the taste of the pudding is in the eating. We have been so thoroughly disappointed by people we thought were otherwise great men. I hope and pray it will not be the case this time.

Seriously, I wish the Honorable Minister the best of luck. I hope he proves me wrong, for once.

Emeka

For whatever it takes, the Honourable Minister has exhibited that Communication is Power. I am sure that Mr. Shuiab will be feeling fulfilled. That is just what happens in communication-when you send out a request, you are worried until you get a response (feedback)- so let this be a manifestation of the Honourable Minister’s leadership style. Then, I pray that he keeps it up and listens to the needs of the people while using the facilities within his portfolio to attend to such needs.

The simplest and most popular rule or meaning of Democracy has not changed and I think it is as unshakeable as the Northern Star- that is-Government of the people by the people and for the people. This by my translation means that, it is people that serves the people during democracy and not strangers or spirits serving the people which naturally will not blend.

The leaders are one set of people and the citizens are another group of people and this two groups make up the nation. So, my candid contribution is that our leaders in Nigeria should as a matter of fact realise that the citizens are very important in the game of leadership and if the people do not have believe in you as a leader, and you do not care how they feel, then it will remain a bad system.

The new British Prime Minister, Mr. Gordon Brown in a recent address to his people told them among other things that he will serve the British people and that he will stand up for them. As soon as he said that, all the people present stood up for him as a show of solidarity and appreciation for this humble declaration. That is what makes the western world to have so much confidence and believe in themselves and their leaders. When the leaders make promises, they work hard, convincingly, with the people actually feeling the pulses, to the efforts towards getting to the promises made.

I wish the leaders and people of Nigeria well especially as we celebrate the 47th Anniversary of our Independence.

Much regards.

Nonye

Dear Marshall,

I must say that it is rather too early to start judging a Minister that is barely three months in the saddle as Mr. John Odey finds himself. So far there are clear signs that this present administration is not a Pretender-type administration and the steps they’ve takem and corresponding actions goes to show that there is a measure of seriousness with which they want to tackle the mirades of monumental problems and challenges facing this nation Nigeria.

However we must not forget that the past administration started off that way and after eight years we are on the brinks of corruptic extinction where the very grass that grows on the field is in itself corrupt. What Happened? Why was the good intentions of the past administrations suddenly overshadowed by selfish and corrupt agenda of the protagonists of the ‘NOVEL’ Nigeria Our Country.

All i’m saying is time will surely tell if these crop of men and women in this administration mean well for Nigeria and have concrete plans to elevate the ominious ‘COMMON MAN’ from a state of abject poverty to a state where he will be able to live in a measure of comfort. It is just to early to pass votes of confidence on those to whom we have not seen much from. Our House of Representative for one is an acid test.

The Minister of Communication i must say is well lettered and from all indications may have some good in him that he wants to give out to Nigeria, but we must not be to hasty to pass a vote of confidence just yet until Nigerians begin to see that good in him.

I have spoken. Shalom!!!

Obi,

Am first of all thrilled that the Minister, John Odey, actually personally responded to the open letter by Yushau Shuaib.

How I wish this would be the beginning of a new age in Nigeria, in terms of the closeness and ease with which ordinary citizens relate with highly placed citizens ocupying very important government positions.

Let me respond to Emeka Oparah’s last contribution. I disagree with his suggestion that, “…someone should have the professionalism and good sense of occasion to put the so called Image Project on ice until we get the basics right”. We can’t wait till we get the basics right before we sell Nigeria to Nigerians and to the outside world. Both efforts should be going on side by side.

The Ministry of Information should not only continue with the Nigeria Image Project, but substantially expand its scope. My only suggestion is that seasoned Nigerian marketing communications firms should be drafted into it, to give it the right direction. I prefer Nigerian agencies, because they know Nigeria as a product in ways that foreign agencies may never be able to fully understand or appreciate.

There should be an advertising campaign for instance in Time magazine, The Economist, National Geographic, Business Week, Fortune, Forbes, etc, to celebtrate Nigeria’s exploits in telecommunications since 2001. It would be fine if the ministry, through Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), can fund this multi-million dollar campaign entirely by itself.

Otherwise it should solicit the partnership of the leading telecommunications companies in Nigeria (MTN, Celtel, Globacom, NITEL/M-Tel, newly acquired Multilinks and Starcomms). The advertisement copy would then carry the logo of all the funding partners-NCC and the private companies. Many global readers of these publications would be pleasantly shocked to read about our rapid progress in six short years.

The top 10 global telecom expos in 2007/2008 should also be our target. Nigeria should feature very prominently at such events. Our achievements should be showcased in an aggressive and tasteful manner. This should be a continuous effort over the next several years.

The World Travel Market (WTM) will come up in London in November 2007. It is the most prestigious and most influential gathering of who-is-who in the global travel/tourism trade. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism, through the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) should put up a very big stand, befitting our size and aspiration. Inside the African Pavillion, the Nigerian stand should rival and in fact beat the South African stand, which traditionally steals the show at the annual WTM. The NTDC should (if they can still achieve it within the time left) produce a glossy, full length, world class magazine on Nigeria, featuring our best delights like Obudu Ranch Resort, Calabar Christmas Festival, the Durbar events in Zaria, Kano and Sokoto, Osun-Oshogbo Festival, Abuja Carnival, etc.

The next Davos, to be held in January 2008, offers another powerful platform to position Nigeria. President Yar Adua should attend with a large delegation, comprised of government officials (20%) and respected corporate executives like Mr. Felix Ohiwerei and big-time indigenous entrepreneurs like Aliko Dangote (80%).

During the Davos 2008 program, the Ministry of Information, in collaboration with the CBN, should target an evening to arrange a dinner in honour of the newly elected Nigerian President. An advance team should be in Switzerland to arrange the details, well ahead of time. Prof. Charles Soludo is a good candidate to make a passionate and intellectually stimulating presentation on the Nigeria 2020 aspiration.

Nigerians like Wole Soyinka, Emeka Anyaoku, Bamanga Tukur, etc, who are highly respected globally, should be special guests at the event. It would be brilliant if we can also bring Philip Emeagwali from the United States, as well as American friends of Nigeria like Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Al Gore, Oprah Winfrey, etc.

A tried and tested Nigerian event management company can deliver this project on behalf of the ministry. But the Ministry must first provide the government endorsement and official support required to generate enough sponsorships to stage such a world-class show.

I remeber fondly our hosting of the 2003 CHOGM in Abuja. Even the Queen of England was said to have been thrilled by that outing.

These are just a few examples. The Ministry needs to drive some of these nation-branding initiatives on its own, and work with other ministries/govenment agencies and private companies on some others.

The kind of seasoned marketing communications campaign that has made the likes of MTN and Glo Nigerian household brands in less than a decade is what Nigeria needs. Brand Nigeria must be marketed agressively and tastefully, using advertising, PR, sponsorships, events, etc.

Nigeria, contrary to what many people (including Nigerians themselves) have accepted over the years, is a very good brand: the 9th largest country in the world in population (a market that no serious global company brand can ignore for too long). We are also the biggest Black Country in the world. Next to India and the USA, we are the third largest English speaking country (English is the world’s No. language for global commerce and education). There are more people speaking English in Nigeria than in the UK, the original home of English Language.

Next to Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and (perhaps) Egypt, we are the fifth largest muslim country in the world. There are more muslims in Nigeria that in Saudi Arabia. We are also one of the top 10 christian countries in the world. (Islam and Christianity are the two most influential world religions today).

Since this administration has up till May 2011 (unless it is re-elected), the Minister can come up with three years and six months marketing communications campaign for Nigeria, starting from say November 2007 to May 2011. The campaign could gulp something in the neighbourhood of N50 billion over that period. Sounds big. But then MTN Nigeria or Glo may probably spend this much in the next four years.

As a country, are we saying that we don’t have this kind of money (from both government and private sector)? Are we saying that we do not have the brains that can drive this kind of campaign?

The Nigerian Image Project must continue, with increased tempo.

Frederick

May be the reason I sound the way I do is because I am of the private sector. I suppose there is still substantial self-censorship in the public sector, which explicitly confers the status of a rare breed on any government official that displays a tendency for cadour and boldness. As for the consultants of this world, foreign or local, the name of the game is to speak the right language to elicit contracts.

My Brother Frederick, I am amazed that as a PR professional you disagree with getting the basics right before going to town. Even native intelligence (completely shorn of the analytical and diagnostic mindset of the famed Business Schools) tells us that a good market sells itself. You can not sell a bad product, except of course you are in Nigeria, as you want us to believe.

To most right thinking Nigerians, this is not the time for marketing or grandstanding usually associated with success and achievements. It is indeed time for introspection, self-excoriation and new beginnings.

I expect a good consultant to advice our leaders to embark on an honest change process, which will include a vision driven by an action plan (complete with time lines) and policies to ensure compliance. Any PR activity or image anything at this point will be ‘mere promise’. Then, as the changes manifest, the campaign can start to talk about obvious, solid improvements here and there.

My brother, let’s not deceive ourselves, consultants, be they local or foreign are in the game to make money and they will collect the money to the last kobo and take the government to court, if it defaults. If you doubt me, visit a hospital when a patient dies. The policy is usually that the final bill must be paid to nil before the body is removed. This may sound morbid on a Wednesday morning, but it drives home the fact that PR (or image) consultants, like doctors, work for their money!

I don’t need to consult an oracle to know that things are not going well at all with Nigeria. If you want to check the level of regard the world has for Nigerians, go to the airlines abroad and look at the queues for flights to Nigeria. Check also the aircraft some of them they put on the Nigerian route. Last year I ‘compelled’ some relatives to visit home from the US, and they swore after two weeks in Lagos and surviving one armed robbery attack and witnessing two, the traffic, the chaos, the ‘dark nights’ and the decay they saw not to return. Bad PR! I wish Governor Bola Tinubu had fixed Lagos (sorry I forgot the FG withheld the state’s allocation), the story could have been different.

As they say, if we take care of the pennies, the pounds will take care of themselves. Let’s fix Nigeria. And we sure can fix it. Then, we can talk about what we have done. For now, there is nothing to celebrate. If you still disagree, please do a write up in this forum highlighting the positive developments, with compelling arguments (not Ministry of Information-like argument) and I will push it to all my email groups around the world, so the ‘selling of Nigeria’s image’ can being with earnestness.

Have you read “This House Has Fallen” by Karl Maier?

I hope we have not allowed our problems to opiate us.

God help us.

Emeka

This is where we go wrong, that the Honourable Minister has responded to an open letter and actually joined this group does not mean that he will be challenged and talked to as if the time is ripe. Let us just concentrate on making contributions and offering ideas. Let us encourage other than discourage him. Let us constructively criticize only when things are going the wrong way. We do not even need to condemn based on old mistakes or something, or else we will not go forward. Old things shall pass away and all shall come new.

I was present at the presentation of the image project in Paris. I tell you, it was a beautiful packaging for Nigeria and indirectly for all of us. No country is a ‘Saint’, all has its own problems. Please lets leave other countries with their own problems and concentrate on how to encourage, assist and support our leaders especially those of them who has just taken the mantle of leadership. For National Re-Orientation, we have an Agency charged with the mandate of National Orientation.

All we are looking for is development and well being of the citizens of Nigeria whether at home or in Diaspora. The image project is very essential for Nigerian citizens in Diaspora or at least for those that travel out or have the intensions of traveling out of the country. There is nothing that exist in Nigeria which does not exist ‘else where’, good or bad. So, let us not tag our country the worst for it is not and it is not a good PR for our nation. Nigerian citizens have at one time or another being killed or mal-handled in other countries-though I do not imply any negative impression, but we are always the first to condemn our country contrary to what obtains in the western and developed countries.

In effect, therefore, the Image Project can still exist alongside other projects and programmes of the Ministry of Information and Communications. It is a good PR project for Nigeria.There are other Ministries and Agencies incharge of other sectors of the economy including the areas that Emeka mentioned in his write-up. He should do well to profer his ideas about how to solve some of the problems and direct them to the right sectors.

If foreign investors can go to any other country in the world, they can come to Nigeria too. Let us all determine to contribute in our individual capacity based on our areas of operations. If we believe that we have all it takes to solve our problems, then it only requires getting the ‘Sudukoo’ (game of rightful arrangement of words or phrases) right- It may take time but not impossible.

Vivre le Nigéria. Long live Nigeria! Happy Anniversary Nigeria at 47.

Nonye

Dear Nonye,

Am glad you rightly described it as ‘beautiful packaging for Nigeria’, and that is what consultants are paid to do.

I grew up knowing that anything that is not good inside but is made to look good outside is like white-painted sepulcher. It is just like using an expensive casket to bury a person who lived a dirty life and died of HIV/AIDS.

We must not live (or travel) abroad and enjoy the good life only to accept nonsense (or make excuses for such) at home. What is bad is bad.

For the sake of argument, there is indeed an agency for National Reorientation, but what do you remember it has done?

I am unapologetic in my position that (as at today), there is really nothing to celebrate by a well-endowed nation like Nigeria, which manifests obvious signs of failure. As a matter of fact, our blessings have been turned to a curse due to the activities of visionless, passionless and rapacious leaders and criminally collaborative elite, who sell their conscience for political appointments or contracts.

We must, like Julius Caesar, put honour in one eye and danger in the other and look at both indifferently, like the Buddhist Monks of Burma did last week and got world attention.

My Dear Nonye, I do not know whether you live in Nigeria or in the well-manicured ‘grooves’ of France, but please note that nearly every hotel in Lagos has been attacked by armed robbers in the past six months, and most foreigners are considering living in Ghana and working in Nigeria since they desperately need the money and can afford the air shuttle. Every successful trip to and from work by Lagosians (without being attacked by armed robbers) are counted as miracles. Young people are still showing up during church services to give testimonies of how they successfully got visas to travel out of the country even to some banana Republics. I have photos of queues from embassies of top 10 foreign countries (favorite destinations for holiday makers and immigrants alike).

Mark my words; I never said we should kill the Image Project. No. I think, as honest people (PR practitioners should be), we should advice those in authority to put it on ice, sort out little, little problems militating against our quest for greatness before we being to make song and dance about our image. Which image?

If the consultants on the Image Project are honest, even a dipstick will highlight basic image problems, which need to be resolved, before a credible, effective campaign can be launched.

I have said enough, and I will speak no more on this matter. For those who want contracts, e lo try best yin, as Yoruba will say.

Emeka

I think Emeka has spoken the mind of an average Nigerian. A lot of things are wrong with us as a nation.It is disheartening to note that in spite of all the enormous resources the nation is still crawling at 47.

It is an irony of fate that despite our rich human and natural resources the Nigerian people are still finding it difficult to enjoy the basic necessities of life. Truly, it is that bad and we have to let our leaders know what we are going through as a people.

However, as bad as the situation is I do not subscribe to the idea that we have to fold our arms. The Nigerian project can still be marketed. For instance, the incidence of rape and other crimes which occur in the US on a daily basis is more than that of Nigeria and yet we do not get to hear much about them. I believe all these have to do with packaging.

To me one good achievement of the Ota bulldozer, Olusegun Obasanjo is that he has given us a servant leader as a successor. President Umar Yar’adua since assumption of office has proved to be a serious leader who is determined to move the nation forward by upholding the rule of law. The President has also  shown  greater  commitment to  improve the  nation’s  economy  with  the  appointment  of  two  professionals Dr Usman and Remi Babalola  to supervise the  finance  ministry.

It may interest u to note that since 1999, the ministry has never had it so good. During Obasanjo’s first term, appointment as minister was based mainly on political consideration with the appointment of two consummate politicians as ministers, Ciroma and Kuye. An attempt to correct this during his second coming was done halfway with the appointment of Okonjo-Iweala, a professional and that of Nenadi Usman,a graduate of Geography. Worst still Usman emerged as a senior minister with an architect as a minister of state.

Against this background, it is not an overstatement to say that the nation has just begun the journey to fix the economy. Usman and Babalola will definitely make a difference.

Still on the image project, I think as a mark of patriotism we have to speak and write more on those good things we have done even though we have to improve very fast.

Solalu

I have desperately held back the allure of joining this very lucrative platform for eggheads and fellow distinguished PR professionals. My desperation to hold back was informed principally because of my pedigree as an employee whose job is jointly owned by private investors and the federal government of Nigeria.

For someone whose company is owned 51 per cent (private) and 49 per cent (government), you should understand my dilemma. My worry is further compounded by the fact that government still has substantial influence on the people controlling the 51 per cent.

However, I will be dying in silence if I chose the option of not speaking up at a time like this. Moreso, I may die as a fool. This I do not bargain for. At least, not in my conscious state of mind.

On the subject matter enjoying some currency for now, I wish to align my thoughts with the last views addressed by Emeka. I couldn’t agree with him less because often times we as a people relish make believe.

And that is the style of our leadership. They have not only inflicted economic poverty on the citizenry, they have also afflicted the citizenry with knowledge poverty. I do not need to chronicle all of those things they have done to us as a people.

Need I remind you of the oft used cosmetic surgery that leaders at various levels embark upon when an August Guest is billed to visit. How in less than 48 hours roads and other public utilities that have become eyesore overtime suddenly become toast of lavish public fund expenditure.

Anyone aghast at the practice must be a foreigner to the Nigerian nation. When General Gowon was to visit the Western Region of old, it took less than 48 hours for the Governor General of the region to fix the roads on the itinerary of the visiting Head of State.

This practice has stuck like a leech. Leopard never changes its skin colour as the old saying goes. How many of those predatory vices have left us if I may ask. None, if you permit me to answer this question.

Rather, we have refined and redefined them to march the levels of our “sophistications.” Take a cursory look at the list of Ambassadorial nominees. Pick them one after another and ask a sincere question. Question devoid of sentiments and biases. What have they done to deserve the nomination as our “Head of Government” to the different nations where we have outposts?

Take it a little further. In the last eight years of our return to civil rule most of the people on the ambassadorial nomination list have served in one capacity or the other. From local council to the state and federal levels we know what each of them did.  Even within political party structures, they served. Let us review their scorecards. What have they got to show for their stewardship? You know better.

If these same sets of people are good enough as arrowhead of our image rebirth, then you can see the end from the very beginning. In a nation where the 90 per cent of the citizenry are impoverished, living in squalor and under constant threat from societal vices, the best image re-modelling should start from within.

This is my quick take

Olubayo

It is absurd that anyone would suggest the shutting down of our dear country but I think what I want to suggest appears to be very close to that.

Our country’s image, of course, is directly related the internal conditions of the country, like has been argued here in other posts. In fact, I subscribe to holding on until we get it all right–at least, mostly all right.

Nigeria is like a wealthy family that is having troubles. Money oils everything forward and the problems do not seem to be as accentuated as they are. Power, road, water, health, education, arts, culture, refineries, steel rolling mills, politics, textile industries, paper mills, management of resources, name any one of these that are not areas with great potentials.

We need an internal retreat. Why do we have Nigerians elsewhere performing, just a few months after they left universities here in Nigeria, while those same people cannot do anything here?

Some people among us are benefiting from the way things are, but the majority for Nigerians will benefit if we do things in truly Nigerian fashion. Yes, “fashion”–I am pleased that that word came into my fingers.

Fashion, film, music, religion, radio, TV–our idioms are foreign. I do not detest everything foreign; I only know that we have solutions here, but we are used to denigrating everything Nigerian.

If we have a one- or two-year retreat, we can know that we have local remedies for many diseases here in Nigeria. We have remedies for asthma that cure–not just palliative remedy–we have remedies for ‘AIDS’/HIV; we have remedies for cancer, pile, diabetes; bone setting, etc. China always looks inward and they find drugs for us like artemisinin drugs that Nigerian healthcare sector are crazy over at the moment. We need two years of uninterrupted staring at ourselves, asking each other questions, looking inward for solutions. We need to know that we have everything. We need to know that we have everything in Nigeria.

Economic theories; political theories; social theories; many of them formulated from elsewhere and tried on Nigeria have failed. Why don’t we formulate ours? Music from other climes used to be the mainstay before, now our artistes are entertaining us; we are making stars; they are ruling Africa and the world, just as we ought to. But we have more capacity than just one 2Face or D’banj or Lagbaja. We have skill, we have population, a population that is willing to be taken advantage of (if only u imagine what the telecoms coys are doing) especially if they have the slightest economic empowerment.

Nigeria needs no image maker if u ask me. If we sit down and develop this, and we have Dangote, Okocha, 2Face and other local names selling outside and we we are packaging our Abuja Carnival with Argungu Fishing Festival and other cultural items for the world, what do we need an image maker for? U who are cold advocates of the free market, this is what we should even encourage. Etteh or John Odey and MEND are just minor components of this image project. Let’s shut down.

Filed Under: Reviews

About the Author

Leave a Reply




If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.

*