Nigeria, which has made various failed attempts in the past to tweak its brand, may still not achieve the expected result as hitherto, unless it re-awakens its values that once made the endowed country a bride among the international community.
This was the submission of discussants at the Verdant Zeal second ‘Innovention’ lecture series on “Beyond Branding: Building lasting values for Nigeria’s growth,” held in Lagos last weekend.
Leading the discussion, Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti State, put it unswervingly when he attributed the failures of the previous nation’s branding efforts to “value deficit.”
Fayemi said “a national brand identity consists of two primary elements. Firstly, there must be a set of core of values and ideals that girds the nation’s entire socio-political and economic life. The second element involves how these values are projected to the world through national institutions, systems and structures.
“Our nation branding failures can be summed up as a values deficit. It is the failure of successive administrations to articulate a strategic national vision and calibrate institutional realities to match this vision. In broader terms, this represents not just the failure of particular administrations but also our failure as elite to generate a consensus about what sort of place we want our country to be.”
Fayemi, who regretted that Nigerians have not adequately and firmly framed the values that they want to drive their institutions, asserted that the institutional transformation that the country needs to restore values to the front burner include leadership by example.
The governor, who expressed worry at the nation’s celebrities, stated that if concerted efforts are not made, the younger generations would be affected and discouraged from treading the path of meritocracy to mediocrity since our heroes were not concerned about our values and our image than we imagine.
“Our heroes are symbols of the national brand. When we serenade fraudsters, ex-despots, ex-convicts and other assorted persons of dubious reputations with national honours and appointments, we are sending a terribly un-edifying message to the world.
“No kind of public relations blitz can undo the damage done to the national image by the sort of people that have become our symbols. We are also sending a dangerous signal to the young about the relationship between competence and honesty on one hand and promotion and recognition on the other,” the governor said with anxiety.
Citing South Africa as an example of a re-branded nation, he noted that the nation’s profound change involved changes not just in the country’s totems such as its national flag, but also a re-calibration 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.
South Africa being the first ever African country to host the FIFA World Cup and now Africa’s largest economy, is not accidental but a result of its re-branding and vision, he said further.
Speaking in the same manner, Udeme Ufot, CEO of SO and U, an advertising firm, canvassed for the extension of punishment of culprits to their families, as a way of restoring values to the system, saying the entire country needed to get on board to create action; “we must visit our values in order to build what we want to be known as.”
He said as nations compete against one another in attracting investments in various forms to their shores, “they realise that having a positive image does deliver an advantage in this pursuit. It therefore pays to build and sustain a perception that engenders the right emotions towards the country in the comity of nations.”
In his speech, the chairman of the occasion, Bola Akingbade, consultant, Brandville, believed that through invention and innovation “we can further achieve emotional balance in our national life by pointing in the right direction and helping to foster brands that are organically Nigerian, so we can be in good stead with the gold rush that has made Nigeria an attractive destination for investment, despite all odds.”
In his contribution, Femi Falana, a lawyer and activist, bemoaned the disrespect for the rule of law in Nigeria, saying that “unless people obey the laws of the land, every effort at re-branding the country will end in vanity.” If Nigeria must change, Nigerians regardless of status must respect the law, he said.
Media Business Editor