Opinion:How not to Rebrand Nigeria

 Monday, August 30, 2010

By Olumayowa Okediran

Nigeria’s information minister Dora Akunyili’s re-branding Nigeria project is one with good intents. However, the strategy is not too different from the approach of the producers of a well branded inferior commodity. 

Nigeria’s information minister Dora Akunyili’s rebranding Nigeria project is one with good intents. Better branding with a little more rigorous positive marketing effectively positions a commodity in a stiffly competitive market. However is Dora’s re-branding project headed in the right direction?

To create an effect of desire for the country in the minds of its citizens’, denizens, tourists, investors, visitors and well wishers, a thorough positive marketing strategy should be adopted. By positive marketing I do not imply that our government officials go about seeking foreign aid from more prosperous economies, advertising Africa as a poor, needy and deprived continent, when her resources are squandered every minute and corruption is a mammoth monster? No!

How does the government hope to solve our problems by taking money from poor people in rich countries to subsidies rich people in poor countries? – That in fact is a correct description of aid, an opponent to positive marketing, simply put – begging for foreign aid is negative marketing.

A question I usually like to ask proponents of aid to Africa is this – since the end of Second World War and the incursion of foreign aid to Africa and other “developing nations” can the amounts donated in aid amount to the visible and “invisible” development in these countries? I usually don’t get a convincing answer. Since the 1940s, cash in form of aid has been handed down to governments in Africa and other “developing” countries. In the 1990s these amounts soared to about USD50 billion and the amounts have remained staggering.

Parliamentarians in Africa are aware that aid does little to help in the development of the continent and more to fill their pockets. They nevertheless turn a blind eye to the harmful effects of aid on the continent – Their pockets are full anyway!!!

Branding is make belief:

Branding to the marketer is a means to make a good or service look attractive to the potential consumer. Its goal is to make you believe you are purchasing quality – whether you are or not! Some goods may lack the slightest element of quality yet still catch the attention of consumers. That is because they have been well branded. Have you ever bought an enticingly packaged product to find out later that it wasn’t worth the price? I have, quite a number of times.

The current re-branding Nigeria strategy is not too different from the approach of the producers of a well branded inferior commodity. Nigeria does not need to invest so much resources in elephant projects. A few simple solutions to a more attractive Nigeria are the following:

stop lip-service to corruption
promote trade without any form of protectionism
governments should stay off businesses
give all and every equal rights and liberty
make it easier to set up and run businesses
provide the framework (policies) for fair competition
The solutions to Nigeria’s numerous incongruities need not be elephant projects. They are simple changes in policy and way of thinking.

Olumayowa Okediran is Vice President (Strategy) of Africanliberty.org Students Organization at the University of Abeokuta