Nigeria’s image is unquestionably bad. And the reasons are all too obvious for all to see – with bad leadership at the top of the list. Other problems include but are not limited to corruption, indiscipline, drug trafficking, e-mail scams to cheat money out of unwitting victims overseas, lack of social infrastructure (roads, electricity, hospitals, schools and factories) and very poor security (armed robberies, assassinations and kidnappings). To worsen things further, its commercial capital Lagos recently topped a poll of the world’s most dangerous places to work.
All of these have combined to tarnish the reputation of Nigeria’s country and people. With this background, no wonder why local officials felt that a re-branding for Nigeria was needed.
Nigerians know that overcoming negative stereotypes against them will be a tough task, but to be frank, it will be completely impossible if this sort of things happen: At the ceremony at which the new logo and slogan of Brand Nigeria were to be unveiled, a member of the team campaigning to improve Nigeria’s image was stolen his mobile phone. If it weren’t true, it’d be comic.
As the BBC reports, Nigeria’s nation branding team member Isawa Elaigwu told that he noticed the phone was gone minutes before he was due to address the event. “As I was entering the gates of the conference centre I noticed I had been pick-pocketed,” he said. “This is just the sort of thing we need to fight against”, he added. This suggests that for as long as Nigeria remains a fraudulent failing state, campaigns to correct the purported negative image of the country abroad could be misconstrued as a whitewash, further feeding into the perception that Nigerians are deceptive people.
But “Nigeria cannot wait until it’s solved all its problems before addressing its image”, confronts Dora Akunyili, the Nigerian Information Minister, who hopes to change this bad reputation with this campaign. “A better image would improve tourism and encourage businesses to invest in Nigeria”, she says. “As Nigerian’s own perception of themselves improved they would be less inclined to commit crime“, she adds in a sentence that will make an impact to the whole nation branding sphere – now nation branding reduces crime too.
On this March 17th, 2009 event the ministry unveiled a new slogan, “Good People, Great Nation” and a new logo, which is simply the name of the country but “creatively interpreted” as some say – my opinion on this is pretty straightforward, and is that this logo is worthless. And the baseline seems to have been designed in Microsoft Word®, with its conventional italic Arial typeface, and not even respecting some breathing white space between the “-e” in “People” and the “g” in “Nigeria”.
If this is how this branding project for Nigeria starts, I think that the project could be so failed that it could be counter-productive. My opinion on Nigeria is now worse than it was before – because now I have official Nigerian confirmation that some of the prejudices harming Nigerians may be well-sustained, however unfair they may be. And I am sure that the people of Nigeria deserves much more and much better than this from their government.