I applaud the recent move by the government through the Ministries of Information and Youth Development in rebranding Nigeria and launching us in a brand new way to the world. But more has to be done than just the rebranding strategy, that is, we have to rebrand not only Nigeria but the Nigerians as well. It has to be a wholesome and total exercise for a befitting achievement. It is not enough to tell the world,”Hey! Look, we are a new Nigeria” while the old Nigerians still dwell in the new Nigeria. It makes a mockery of what we are saying. We need more of the new Nigerians because they will ultimately translate into a new Nigeria.
It is damaging enough that some of are country men and women in diasporas are not representing us in the best way as our ambassadors. Let us take a little walk down where we started and to see the reasons for not just a brand new Nigeria but Nigerians as well. I was reading recently in NewAfrican (a monthly publication directed towards restoring the real image of Africa as against the appalling picture painted by the western media) about Neill Blomkamp’s movie, District 9, where Nigerians are portrayed as criminals terrorizing South Africans, getting involved in all forms of crimes ranging from drugs, women trafficking to armed robbery. I would not like to talk about it because I believe a lot have been said in that regards. But I may want to ask,” Was all that Neill produced wrong?” Believe it or not, most of our predecessors in that foreign land left a bad antecedent for the new migrants. Just like having the same old feelings about a bad uncle no matter how good the children turns to be. You still have reservations for them because of their father. Also the recent case of Faruk AbdulMutallab and the Christmas Eve bomb blast saga has yet added more salt to injury. The global world is now seeing Nigerians as terrorist. This could be confirmed by the recent harassing of Nigerian students in Yemen and other European countries alike or the disdain treatment of Nigerians at foreign immigration centre. Make a visit to any of the embassies and see what Nigeria wanting a greener pasture in foreign land pass through in the hands of the foreign immigration staffs. Just when it is like the Faruk’s news is dying down, another crisis in Jos where hundreds of people lost and is still losing their lives added to the latest smearing of Nigeria’s already devastated image. From terrorists to war tasty nation, always making the negative headlines. This perception of our beloved Nation as that full of terrorist or full of warring people is so disturbing and gets me sick to the guts that I was more than relieved when I heard Prof. Dora Akunyili in collaboration with some private sectors launching a campaign towards rebranding Nigeria.
In the light of this development, I would like to suggest that awareness should be made on the need for Nigerians to rebrand not only our nation but regenerate our attitudes- personal, business, religious and otherwise. Just like the popular Chinese proverb that says, “If everyone sweeps the front of his house, the entire community will be clean”. If only every Nigerian can learn to mean what they say and act on what they believe in, our nation will still be perceived as a terrorist or any other degrading adjective the outside world deems fit for us. It requires a wholesome over haul of the old Nigerians for the new Nigerians. The same people but with different character and of different breed. A total regeneration. A new people with a firm resolution to ‘uphold the honor and glory of Nigeria’. I know I am sounding like one of your priests or preacher in the church but that is the truth of the matter. No one can fail to notice the negative media popularity that Nigeria has. How this is affecting the economic growth of the nation even though our CBN governor does not agree with this fact. People are afraid of Nigerians. Just try chatting with people online and see their reactions when you tell them that you are a Nigerian. Even their sometimes polite way of declining further conversation with you would strike you that some thing is seriously wrong with the country. I have stopped complaining about the country and have since resolved to make a little change starting with myself and with people around me. Truth be told, the country is in a chaotic state morally and attitudinally. The house needs to be put in other and it has to be done individually and then collectively. That’s where we need to start from and every other thing follows suit. Accepting that we have a problem is the first step of solving it. It baffles me that people are ready to talk about how good other nations like America, Britain or other developed or even developing (like Kenya or even our neighbor Ghana, for those who would say that the Western countries have existed before us), their organization and sense of duty. It is only in Nigeria that the security guarding a community claims oblivion of an obvious crime while every other person reports that they are aware. Where public office holders have thrown accountability and integrity to the dogs and behave as lords over the masses they are to serve. Where there is a call for resignation of a public office holder that dares criticize the bad proceedings of the government he or she is serving. Where we have abundantly and still live in abject penury. A nation richly blessed with talents and human resource but lack human labour. Where our citizens win accolades and awards for outstanding performances but fail woefully in their own turf. Where credibility is despised and non accountability hailed. Where the most corrupt are put in charge of fight against corruption. I can go on and on but it is not the time to recount faults rather to offer solutions. We all know that the only way to get rid of the situation is by nipping it from the bud- from our individual lives. We are the only people to put our nation in order through self purgation of these vices that limit our growth. I always tell my friends when they do certain things and claim that it doesn’t matter that, ” The society we all abuse today will take revenge on our future generations if we happen to escape the wrath”. No action of man will not be rewarded, if not now then later in life, maybe not directly but on his generations to come. It’s like a chain reaction where series of actions emanates from a single act whether good or bad alike.
So this vision of rebranding Nigeria should be welcomed by every Nigerian. In the wave of the recent happenings in the country, Nigerians whether at home or in diasporas, must endeavor to be good ambassadors of the country. Knowing that what ever decision we take today will determine the future of our wards and those yet to be born. Let us all join hands with the Ministries of Information and Youth Development and other sectors involved to relaunch Nigeria in a brand new way. Nigeria, Good People Great Nation.
Anthony Ikechukwu Odoh