From The Economist
The government of a great nation tries a short cut to salvation
A NEW joke is doing the rounds in Nigeria. Got a problem with your car, or your generator’s stopped working? Don’t fix it! Rebrand it! The grim humour reflects scepticism about a national rebranding campaign launched by the government to bring tourists and foreign investment to Nigeria, and generally to buff up the country’s image. The campaign’s slogan is “Nigeria: Good People, Great Nation”.
The force behind it is Dora Akunyili, the new minister of information. She welcomes the fact that Nigerians are talking and even laughing about the rebranding. “It was not my intention but I am very happy it has generated these discussions, because they are very healthy for our democracy,” she says.
Ms Akunyili made a name for herself as the campaigning head of the country’s food and drug standards’ agency. Her zealous pursuit of counterfeit medicines nearly earned her a bullet in the head, leaving instead a hole in her headdress. Aware of the cynicism, she says she will not spend any extra public money on the rebranding campaign. Instead, she has about $1m left over from the government’s previous attempt to rebrand Nigeria which carried the slogan “Nigeria, Heart of Africa”. She wants private business to meet the rest of the cost.
The previous exercise failed, and there is little reason to expect the latest one to do much better. Many Nigerians say their government should tackle the country’s fundamental problems—power shortages, crime and corruption—before worrying about its image. “They [the government] have been sending texts to my phone, telling us about how to reorganise Nigeria, how to reorganise our minds, our heads,” says Olufemi Oyegun, an oil-and-gas man in Lagos, the commercial capital. “But it’s our leaders that are our main problem, not the people.”
Fraud and corruption still scare businesses away from Nigeria, even though its market of 140m people is Africa’s largest. In a recent report, ORC Worldwide, a consultancy, listed Lagos, with its violent crime, bad roads and wretched sanitation, as the world’s worst place for expatriates to live in. A spot of rebranding is unlikely to wash away such awkward findings.
Source: The Economist