The federal government of Nigeria has decided to re-brand our country. This time she brought together who is who in Nigerian politics etc for a political gathering called re-branding of Nigeria. The event took place on Tuesday 17th March 2009 in Abuja. Please don’t get me wrong, am not against re-branding Nigeria. But re-branding should have been action oriented. What I mean is that, the positive actions of the federal government would re-brand Nigeria and not calling people together to sweet talk Nigerians. Nigerians are simply tired of campaigns of this nature. MAMSER, NAPEP, etc are recent examples.
Re-branding Nigeria will not work when there are speculations about removing petroleum subsidy which will invariably increase the prices of petroleum products. This action will certainly worsen the hard times faced by Nigerians. Poverty rate will increase. More so the Nigerian Labour Congress has threatened to go on strike should the federal government go ahead and deregulate the downstream petroleum sector. This is not the time to remove the petroleum subsidy at least for the sake of this global economic downturn.
At this period of great global economic recession, what Nigerians would need is a concrete plan of action that will put food on their tables. Government should have been telling Nigerians concrete/practical efforts to create employment. You cannot re-brand Nigeria when there are more hungry men in the land. Am sure the federal government incurred some financial costs in organizing the re-branding campaign. This is another wasted resources in the face of grave unemployment ravaging the population.
The first step towards re-branding Nigeria should have been to properly reform the electoral system so that credible leaders can win elections. You cannot re-brand Nigeria with the same present politicians in power. You cannot give what you don’t have, so how can the present politicians re-brand Nigeria when they have not re-branded themselves. The present federal government headed by Yar’Adua cannot re-brand because of credibility problem. No wonder Nigerians are not too surprised at the way he is treating the electoral reform project.
Let’s remember that Mr. President on his last sallah message to Nigerians reconfirmed that his administration was committed to electoral reforms, so that we can have peaceful and transparent elections in the country. But his recent actions concerning the Justice Uwais report on electoral reforms have suggested otherwise. The president and his men appear to have doctored the Justice Uwais recommendations. Nigerians are carefully watching. Former Nigerian Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari had already accused President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s administration of double standard. Many Nigerians have equally voiced their concerns over the attempt by the federal government to jettison the most important aspects of the Uwais report.
If the federal government is sincere about re-branding, they should put Nigeria on the right track by tackling official corruption, pass the freedom of information bill into law, improve the power supply, genuinely reform the electoral process, remove the immunity clauses, introduce transparency in governance etc. With these actions Nigeria will re-brand by itself. Action speaks louder then voices. Lets your deeds speak for you Mr. President. Launching the re-brand Nigeria campaign might be meaningless without the above.
Chinedu Vincent Akuta
An activist and leader of “Support Option A4 Group” Leicester-UK