Rebranding Nigerian: Another View

15 November 2009

By Nasiru Suleiman

PEOPLE engaged in branding seek to develop or align the expectations behind the branding experience, creating the impression that a brand associated with a product or service has certain qualities or characteristics that makes it special or unique. A brand is therefore one of the most valuable elements in an advertising theme, as it demonstrates what the brand owner is able to offer in the marketplace.

Rebranding is the process by which a product or service developed with one brand, company or product line affiliation is marketed or distributed with a different identity. This may involve radical changes to the brand’s logo, brand name, image, marketing strategy, and advertising themes. These changes are typically aimed at the repositioning of the brand/company, usually in an attempt to distance itself from certain negative connotations of the previous branding, or to move the brand upmarket.

Due to the tremendous impact that renaming and rebranding a company can have, it is critical to take the client through the process with great sensitivity and care. The new company identity and brand should also be launched in a subtle and methodical manner in order to avoid alienating old customers, while aiming to attract new business prospects.

There is no magic formula, however, there is a methodical process which involves careful strategy, memorable visuals and personal interactions, all of which must speak in unison for a customer to place full trust and invest their emotions in what is on offer.

Nigeria as a brand has suffered too much and most people who have come into contact with Nigeria are skeptical about patronizing the country as a product. This is as a result of the negative connotation attached to the product call Nigeria. Truly the country has been in mess over the years and this is as a result of the experience most client of the product got after having contact with the product, the experiential aspect of the brand Nigeria culminated into psychological issue of the brand which, is a symbolic construct created within the minds of people and consists of all the information and expectations associated with the Nigerian people.

Nigerians have been associated with various crimes and other social vices both at home and abroad. For a country suffused in moral decadence in public office where criminals have become celebrities and protection of corrupt people from justice has become a direct policy of state. Over the years Nigeria as being indentified as the headquarters of cyber crime popularly known as Yahoo-Yahoo in the whole world which has given the country a denting image, advanced fee fraud is also one of the activities of most Nigerians particularly those who have left the shores of the country to seek greener pasture abroad.

And the pitiable thing about this is that most of these criminals that are giving the country bad name are being celebrated and given titles in most of our villages; they are chiefs and even in most churches these people are Deacons and Deaconess, some of them are Baba Adinni and the rest of them, even in the society this people are seen as role-model to some younger generations.

In fact there is a dance freak call Yahooze which is identified as the dance for those who have make good fortune in the business of cyber crime (i.e those wey don hammer). Other issues which make the brand Nigeria unsaleable in the international community is the high rate of corruption among government officials. We’ve had enough of this; are we to talk of the Siemens scandals or the Halliburton?

Or the recent rumour of the bribery case of the polymer contract of the CBN or the problem in the banking sector where people’s money are given out as unsecure loan? Even the anti-graft commissions set up to fight all these crime are being accused of the same crime. So, nobody knows exactly the problem. What has really gone wrong. Why the great country Nigeria is going down by the day? Everyday thousands of youths are leaving the country to countries in Europe and American.

In fact these days they even go to neighbouring African countries like Ghana, Egypt, Libya, Somalia and Morocco among others. The cause of worry about this situation is the way and manner the young boys and girls suffer to get out of this country. Some trek thousands of miles in the desert in the name of seeking greener pasture and in the process a number of them die while some get imprisoned. This suicidal adventure calls for worry.

Recently some over 100 Nigerians are being offered amnesty by Libyan government for one crime or another in the country and not quite long an NTA news programme showed that a number of Nigerian youths in Egypt engage in menial jobs called Shagala i.e house boy or house girl portraying the country in bad light in the eyes of international community. Let us not even talk about the number of our girls in the street of Italy and other parts of Europe as prostitutes.

The recent rebranding campaign by the Honourable Minister of Information and Communication, Professor Dora Akunyili, is a right step in the right direction, when we take a critical look at the brand Nigeria we will all agree that the brand Nigeria really require rebranding. Everything has gone bad and the citizens are suffering from the bad name given the country by some unscrupulous elements who are perpetrating all kinds of crime and putting the country’s name in disrepute.

Even as the rebranding programme is a good one, but I believe the real issue is not addressed by the rebranding programme. For instance the programme seeks to portray the country in a good light in the international community, and rid the country of the negative image given her by most of her citizens particularly those engaged in various kind of crimes like cyber crime, embezzlement of public funds, armed robbery, drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings, advanced fee fraud and a number of these crimes.

The original causes of these crimes were not addressed, issue like poverty, unemployment, lack of basic social amenities that will encourage the youths to stay back home, brain drain, examination malpractices, bribery and corruption, inequality, poor health facilities, food insecurity and a number of other socio-economic problems.

For criminals to be celebrated and given titles in churches and in the villages, that is to tell you how bad the situation has gone. People are hungry and wallowing in abject poverty, parent could no longer talk to their children who engaged in crime rather they take from the proceeds they get from the crime because of this evil call poverty.

The percentage of poor people in the society has now made people not to know what real success is, once you make your money nobody cares to know the source of the money all they know is that you have made money; and the next thing everybody wants to associate with you.

The rate of unemployment in the country today is alarming and this has contributed a lot to the high rate of crime, the number of graduates parading the streets of major towns and cities in the country searching for the jobs that are not available is a very big one and most of this graduate resort to crime, the cyber crime and advanced fee fraud are crimes perpetrated by intelligent people, those who have acquired knowledge of Information Technology and others fields and are not employed and resort to crime.

All these issues most be addressed if really we want to rebrand this country, those who try by all means to get out of this country is because of the high rate of unemployment in the country, some are frustrated and depressed so they see this suicidal adventure as the most viable one instead of staying back home and die of hunger.

Not quite long we heard of a young Nigerian girl who attempted to commit suicide for fear of being deported back to her country from the United Kingdom what message is that passing to us in this country, we have heard of graduates who prefer to go and take menials jobs in neigbouring African countries like South Africa, Ghana, Egypt, Libya.

While some travel abroad for prostitution others traffick drugs and many other self degrading jobs because the country is no longer hospitable for them.

Greed by those in authority have also caused the country alot. Most of these problems were created by them, funds made for developmental purposes are diverted for personal use, contracts are given to firms who are ready to pay gratification. In fact it is now the highest bidder not the company that can do the job better, most of the proceeds of these corrupt practices are taken abroad to foreign accounts and this also is a major way of denting the image of this country.

People see public appointments as avenue to enrich themselves, they don’t care who they are dealing with as long as money will get into their pockets. All these must be addressed first if the rebranding programme will succeed. Jobs must be created, government must create an enabling environment in the country, the programme should try to encourage those engaged in the crime to come out of it by providing jobs for them and redirecting their efforts, the time a “yahoo boy” will spend on the internet trying to psych his victim if put into a positive use will yield a lot of benefits to the country, the idea of EFCC arresting and jailing these boys I believe is not the best, I think the “yahoo boys” also need to be granted amnesty and their efforts redirected to positive use, Nigeria should borrow a leaf from countries like India and Japan, because what these boys need is reorientation.

The campaign against poverty must be taken seriously. Poverty is indeed among the cause of these crimes, poverty is really synonymous with African people. For the rebranding programe to be a success, the issue of poverty must be addressed adequately.

When you see people ready to take a suicidal adventure like trekking in a desert to get to Europe, and a graduate ready to take up menials jobs in countries like South Africa, this will let us know how poverty has dealt with Nigerian people. So, for Nigerians to put up any positive attitude and behave in such a way that the country will be seen as a good country, poverty must be fought by those in authority with all seriousness.

The youths must also have a rethink on some of the risks taken in order to make it, even though we lack good role-models. That notwithstanding, we as youths should try to put up a positive attitudes and be ready to move the country forward and support the campaign even as we are calling on those in authority and public office holders that they should act what they are preaching and not to make much noise and less action as the case is presently, because it is those campaigning for rebranding the country who are engaging in act capable of putting the country in disrepute.

Embezzlement of public funds should stop, jobs should be created, attention should be given to the education sector to ensure that our schools are providing graduates of quality adequate laws should be put in place to deal with criminals in all facets of our life as a nation.

Nigeria will be a better country if problems like poverty, unemployment, drug trafficking, human trafficking, corruption in high places, and a host of others are properly addressed and if government provides the needed basic infrastructure, and conducive environment for the citizens, if civil servants are better motivated to carry out their duties, and the right education is provided for students, food security, accommodation for all, good healthcare delivery, justice and equality of all before the law and if corrupt officials are not shielded from being prosecuted and level playing ground is created for all



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