At the start of a New Year, new expectations are always in the air, especially with new developments coming on the heels of the New Year; yet the new dispensation can choose to meet the expectations of the people or dash it.
Recently, the rebrand Nigeria exponent, Professor Dora Akunyili resigned from the federal cabinet as the Minister of Information and Communication and consequently as the 'General Overseer' of the rebranding campaign.
The question in the minds of many Nigerians is what is the fate of the rebranding project which she vigorously and passionately pursued?
Many critics of the rebranding process are of the opinion that the campaign which cost $5.6 million has little visible results to show for it.
There is also the which dissected the entire initiative and strongly suggested that the process was heading for the rocks, as there were no indications that the Nigerian leadership was prepared for the project considering the high levels of corruption and moral decadence in the country.
Others opined that the arrow head of the project did not have the necessary prerequisite to manage such a professionally skewed programme, not for just a sector or a region, but for the entire country like Nigeria.
It was also argued rightly or wrongly that rebranding only comes in for a product that is already sold, but is not doing well in the market place and when the product has not been sold at all, for one reason or the other, what it desperately needs is reinvention or remanufacture, not mere rebranding.
Whether rebranding or reinvention or remanufacture or reformulation, we must not lose sight of what the then minister, Prof. Akunyili said when asked about the rebranding project.
She said "I found that the negative perception about Nigerians was largely because Nigerians allowed others to tell our story and it stuck".
Yes, I believe she is right, we can tell our story not only by the things we write, but also by the things we do, our leaders must live by examples, we cannot continue to pay lip service to having zero tolerance for corruption, electoral malpractices, flagrant abuse of power, indiscipline etc.
We must 'walk the talk' not only in government be it federal, state or local, but in all spheres of our lives. Efforts like that of the governor of Central Bank, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who recently emerged as the world's central bank governor of the Year is what we need to earn more respect in the comity of nations.
The task ahead is enormous; it does not end in claiming that we are "good" or "great", but the question is, what is great about the country?
We cannot continue to deceive ourselves, practical steps like the one being taken by the CBN governor have to be taken in the bid to correct the situation on ground or else we will continue putting in tax payers' resources into projects that will not yield maximum result just like the over N1billion spent on 'The Heart of Africa Project' during Obasanjo era.
The ministry of information and communication need to do more than the regular jingle of 'Good People Great Nation'. It needs seasoned agency or image maker that can help them to manage and advance its messages.
Substantive changes start within and it is important to note that every nation has or have had its era of obscurity and problems, but most of these countries have been able to consciously tackle their problems to the extent that it seems they do not have issues at all.
The powerful nations of the world we see today are far from being perfect, but due to an effective management of their internal crises they are being considered as great nations from where others take their cue. We can also do the same thing going by the situation we have today, we can manage our inefficiencies and failures as we work hard to correct the stereotype.
Given the good working relationship that we saw between the immediate past Minister and the current Minister of information and Communication in the person of our amiable Labaran Maku, we believe the Rebranding Project will not be abandoned.
Mr. Maku should endeavor to find a way to entrench the spirit of the rebranding project in the ministry for continuity. It is also regrettable that as at today, there is no functional website by the ministry where issues like the rebranding project is publicised.
I hope the Honorable Minister will quickly put this in place for millions of people in the World over, first seek their information from the internet. "When the frog in front falls into a pit, others behind take caution."
The mistakes of past leaders should be a basis of adjustment for present leaders, hence the incumbent administration should draw extensively from the mistakes of the past and incorporate specialized agencies in the running of the rebranding process, a very comprehensive logo must be designed immediately and they should be an integration of all and sundry in rebranding, because rebranding starts with the self and extend to others.
The challenges for the new minister are great, yet the time is short, therefore, the time to act is now.