Re-branding Nigeria


When Professor Dora Akinyili became a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the minister of information and communication, I personally was crossed. She worked like a supper man as the chairman of NAFDAC. I pitied her when she cried out that people were after her life. I did not want her to die but I believed that impenetrable circle of security should be provided her if the government of the day realized that she had performed better than anybody – man or woman – before her and because her unique work was for the good health of the people.

When as a minister she came up wit her working formula “Re-branding Nigeria” I saw it as a mere slogan that may be difficult to implement as she wished. How can Nigeria be a re-branded? I foresaw that if she submitted her budget on this the government could disappoint her with unworkable reduction.

About 1974 when I was the Secretary PRO of a body of phonograph producers with my office on Breadfruit Street facing Garba square on Lagos Island one of the successful record producers by the name Agbede determined to tour Europe on holiday. At every factory he visited huge files of Nigerians who duped them were placed before him while every factory wanted him to be their Nigerian agent which he refused. A foreign company wrote me to help verify the address of a Nigerian who ordered some goods from then. I did, but the particular address in Mushin was a long abandoned old building on a road already taken over for many years by a major river. No access to the thatched building at all. When a sister of mine and her husband wanted to buy a house in London they ensured that they did not do so where Nigerians were many and duping people around. There were unlimited criminal acts by Nigerians and for which many of them had been imprisoned or even changed their names so often. How will Professor Akunyili re-brand those people? I mentioned those abroad.

Coming back home, every transistor radio small or big imported into Nigeria used to have a comprehensive instruction book, two specially manufactured batteries and an earphone. But today those things do not come with such sets any longer. The exporters have learned that those accessories are separately sold to customers or they are converted for personal use by their agents.

One day, I bought a kerosene-stove whose wick had been removed and displayed separately for sale. When I demanded for the wick the young man told me he would sell it to me. Since I knew what was happening I lambasted the young man seriously and he said he would give me the wick free of charge but I told him that the wick had been stolen from the stove and so he did me no good.

The above are just examples of myriads of ways Nigerians cheat fellow Nigerians to give Nigeria a bad name because of unjustified gains. How will Professor Akunyili re-brand in such respect?

The unpardonable grudge or disappointment the Igbo people give me personally is that with the technical improvising they made during the last civil war, I strongly believed Nigeria would be industrialized like Japan or China. Today, a question  I ask myself about the Igbo is “Do these people believe in Nigeria at all?” they manufacture a lot of things either in Port Harcourt or some other towns and cities in the east but which they often label as having been made in Italy, France, USA, England, etc.

When I asked some of them why, they say Nigerians love foreign goods too much. But I agree with them. Yoruba women are in the fore-front of sale of clothes. When they display their so called imported clothes, usually lace, you will see at the tip called “Eti Aje” of the so called imported ones that they were woven in Ikeja but were taken to Cotonou where foreign labels are affixed to them. This is just an example of what Professor Akunyili must re-brand.

There is another dangerous trend. The Onitsha market is in the haven for storage of  re-labeled, expired drugs or faked and banned drugs. It is not only Onitsha;it happens elsewhere, why should certain people feed on the lamentation, ill-health and the morbidity of fellow citizens? How can Professor Akunyili re-brand these?

I now ask this question in another way – “Do our leaders, past and present, believe in Nigeria at all, or do they believe or have faith in a sovereign Nigeria at all? When I was retired from service in 1999, I bought a fairly big typewriter.

As a follow up to this during the colonial era Nigerians scholars must first be well grounded in the mother tongue for two years before starting to learn the English Language at all. That was why we spent eight years in the primary school. But it gave us sound education.

Today when Primary education was reduced to six years, the result now is that even at the tertiary level ,our education has been battered. Youths today cannot pass examinations on their own because they speak the English they cannot write down while their mother tongue is foreign to them! Is that not a national disservice and disaster?

Mother tongue enables one to reason well in all discussions. It also enables one to grasp other school subjects. Thus, most Nigerians today are self made slaves in their won homes. In some homes in Lagos nobody should speak the Yoruba language! Are they not slaves in their own homes? Yet their English does not make them pass English, Yoruba, Mathematics, etc. where are we heading to? Is today’s education not disastrous in Nigeria?

How will Professor Akunyili re-brand us now?

Unfortunately our various governments and the National Assembly do not see these things. They all concentrate on world issues while there is serious conflagration in their home!

Big houses or mansions that give maintenance burden to their owners in England are now being bought by Nigerians. How well educated and civilized are we? Nigerians wallow in abject poverty at home as their leaders spend billions to maintain financially crippling mansions including streets in England.

What Nigerians need now is indoctrination in the name of specific education for both young students and for adult education. By this we could gain back 20 to 30 per cent of our socio economic losses!

Let us wake up to solve our problems. Again the NOA should be part of the education while remuneration of elected and appointed politicians must be slashed. People commit murder to earn them!

—Olubayo Lawore,a public relations practitioner writes from Ketu.

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