“A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying that he was wiser today than he was yesterday”. Alexander Pope
In the manufacturing industries, the word “brand” rings a bell because it is what differentiates the products of a particular industry from the others. A brand name is the name given to a particular product manufactured in an industry. A product’s brand is its definition in the world, it is the name with which people identify it in the world and market. Building a brand is making the customers to buy the product and re-buy it whenever they want to buy the same product in the same market segment.
This is called brand loyalty. To develop brand loyalty in the customers, the product would have satisfied the customers over the years or the period of their patronage. This means that the customers are enjoying what the manufacturer claimed the product will provide for them. With this, the customers patronage of the product is guaranteed as long as the quality remains the same. But if the product becomes deficient in quality, and there are complaints from the customers, the manufacturer of the product will have to go back to the drawing board and brainstorm on the next action to take in order to remedy the situation. Under this situation, the manufacturer will have to improve the quality of the ingredients originally used for the product. Also, new ingredients and nutrients could be added to the product in order to enrich, strengthen and fortify it. All these are done to improve the product and make it acceptable once more to the customers. Nevertheless, having improved the quality of the product, acceptance will not come cheap since the product has failed the customers before. Acceptance will only come through effective and persuasive communication that will tell the people that the product has been improved in quality. This type of communication tailored towards re-winning the customers’ sympathy, confidence and eventual patronage is called re-branding. Subsequently, those who bought the product after the re-branding, must experience an improvement in the quality of the product if not, they will abandon it forever. Rebranding sometimes comes with renaming the product. That is changing the name of the product and giving it a new name. So, the main purpose of rebranding a product, person, nation, concept or a thing is to improve the quality, character, attitude, orientation or mindset etc. This is achieved by injecting new ingredients, nutrients, qualities, ideas, thoughts patterns, behaviours etc, into the brand concerned. All these are done to portray a brand in a good light acceptable to the people. “By rebranding to Zain, we are bringing together our Africa and Middle East operations under a single, strong and unique identity. We believe the Zain brand provides an optimal platform upon which we can build a top 100 global brand with the ultimate goal of better serving our customers. It builds upon the success of our African operations and will propel the Zain Group towards becoming one of the top ten global mobile telecommunications companies by 2011”. Group CEO of Zain, Dr. Saad AlBarrak. According to Dr. Saad AlBarrak, the purpose of rebranding the former Celtel Telecommunications to Zain was to provide better services to its customers. So, rebranding comes with improvement and better services. “Branding is about what you want to be known for”. Athony Swart, CEO, Brand Union, formerly, Enterprises IG. It is also about the totality of what a brand wants to be known for. It is about creating a niche for a brand. Nigerian image has been battered for a very long time. But it became worse during the regime of late General Sani Abacha, when the country became a pariah state as she was suspended from the Commonwealth due to the hanging of the environmental activist, Ken Saro Wiwa and the Ogoni eight. However, we thought with the return of democracy in 1999, the image of the country would improve, but this is not so, rather it is depreciating further by the day due to high level corruption, fraudsters who engage in advanced fee fraud ( 419 ), human rights abuses, police brutality, electoral fraud, armed robbery, tribal wars, political assassinations, prostitution, ritual killings, sectarian killings, hostage takings, busting of oil pipes, terrorism etc. All these made Nigerians to be subjected to embarrassing searches at various international airports across the world. Anyone holding the green passport is seen as a criminal. Even the very important personalities ( V I P ) are not exempted from such embarrassments. At present, a lot of industries are relocating from Nigeria to her neighbouring countries. All these are happening due to lack of regular supply of electricity and high cost of petroleum products caused by corruption in high places. In order to improve the image of Nigeria to an acceptable state, various image laundering programmes were organized by different government officials. Mr. Chukwuemeka Chikelu, one time Minister of Information during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, came up with the Heart of Africa Project. The Heart of Africa Project did not do much to improve the image of Nigeria. The image of Nigeria remained in the same sorrow state it was before the programme commenced and ended. Today, we are talking of Nigeria Image Project with a slogan, “Good People, Great Nation”. This image laundering project was initiated by the former Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akunyili. The intent of this project is to rebrand Nigeria so that she can be accepted worldwide. To rebrand a nation is the same as to rebrand a product. All that is needed in rebranding a product have been mentioned above and need not be repeated here for space constrain. The Nigeria Image project has failed too because those behind the project did not do right thing. To rebrand a nation is not an easy task. It needs a concerted efforts and exemplary lifestyle on the part of political office holders to achieve attitudinal change among the masses. Political office holders supposed to live by example. They supposed to be role models to the masses. Here in Nigeria, Political office holders and government officials are corrupt. They enriched themselves with the ill- gotten wealth of the masses. It must be made clear to those who care to hear that all crimes (advanced fee fraud, armed robbery, prostitution, electoral fraud, ritual killings, hostage takings, busting of oil pipes etc) in this country came as a result of thieving political office holders and government officials who corruptly enrich themselves with the commonwealth of the masses. When Mr. Boniface Walter, an online publisher was commenting on the rebranding project, he warned that, “efforts at rebranding Nigeria that do not comprehensively tackled the problem of email scam or 419 is waste of time”. But 419 was not the origin of crimes that battered the image of this country. It all started with corrupt leaders who stashed away the wealth of the country. This pushed the jobless youths into crimes. When the money that is supposed to be used to establish industries that will provide employments for the masses is diverted to private pockets, the masses will resort to crimes because they must feed their stomachs. What was the crime rate in the 70s when graduates got employments immediately they graduated? What was the rate of prostitution in the 70s when there were jobs for secondary school leavers? Was there anything like advanced fee fraud ( 419 ) in the 70s when there were jobs for everybody irrespective of your family background? Was there anything like hostage taking in Nigeria in the 70s? Was there anything like busting of oil pipes? Our leaders should have a rethink. To turn the masses from crimes, there must be massive job creation that will guarantee employment opportunities for the army of the unemployed masses. Electoral fraud can only be eradicated if political offices are made to be less attractive and see n as service rendering offices only. As long as political offices are avenues for amassing illegal wealth, electoral fraud will remain with us because people are anxious to occupy elective offices for the sake of making money. How many billions of naira have been sucked into the Power Holding Company of Nigeria ( PHCN ). Do we have regular supply of electricity in the country today? What happens to the people entrusted with the money? Nothing! Because they are untouchable. What happens to 17 billions naira Aviation Intervention Funds? What is the state of our Aviation sector today? What is the state of our education sector? Is the standards very high? If it is good, why do our leaders send their children to foreign schools? Nigerians are complaining because the country has been listed among the terrorist nations. Nigeria’s name supposed to have been on the list long ago because the country has all the elements of a terrorist state. Look at all the tribal wars and sectarian crises that led to unprovoked killings of innocent people in some parts of the country. Can we genuinely say that the country is not a terrorist state? All these wanton destruction of lives and property usually tarnish the image of the country and should be controlled. How are these activities different from what Al-Qaeda is doing across the world today? Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted bombing of an American Airliner on December 25, 2009, was not what put the country in the terrorist list, it only added to the terrorist activities we have been involved in. On March 16, 2010, the State House Annex of Delta State in Warri, was bombed by the Movement For the Emancipation of Niger Delta ( MEND ). All these activities are terrorist actions which were caused by failure of leadership. The world is now a global village by virtue of Information and Communication Technology ( I C T ). With technology, whatever happens in any part of the world is seen all over the world. So, the world knows Nigerians too well more than Nigerians know themselves. If you tell the world that you are “Good People, Great Nation”, are Nigerians really Good People? Is Nigeria a great Nation? If we are good people, why do our leaders stash our money in foreign banks at the detriment of the masses? You think the world does not know that our leaders steal and keep our money in foreign banks while the citizens are suffering? They buy houses in abroad that nobody inhabit and pay taxes on them, yet Nigerians live under bridges. They build refineries in other countries that are functioning, yet the refineries in the country are not functioning. They export crude oil to their refineries and import the refined petroleum products at higher cost to the citizens. These are international image damaging activities. In a nutshell, to rebrand Nigeria, Nigerian leaders must take a cue from Tiger Woods. After Tiger Woods was accused of infidelity, he came on air, accepted his wrong doings, repented from them and promised to maintain a chaste life. That is what rebranding is all about. It is about cleaning the inside before the outside. It is turning from bad attitudes to positive attitudes. Thus, Nigerian leaders must have attitudinal change and reorientation. This egocentric and self- centered attitude in which our leaders think of themselves and their immediate families only, will not give the country a positive image. When Mr. Athony Swart, the CEO of Brand Union, formerly Enterprises IG was asked why his company was rebranded, he said, “The change goes beyond simply changing our name and identity. It goes to the core of our offering” The rebranding of a company is done in line with the good things it intends to offer to its clients there after. What will Nigerians offer to the world after the re-branding of the country? Portraying to the world that we are good people when in reality we are not, is like wrapping a rotten mango in a beautiful package that will be thrown away when the buyer opens it at home and finds out that the mango is actually rotten. Firstly, for Nigerians to be accepted by outsiders, there must be internal cleansing and regeneration. The leaders, both past and present, who brought the country to this sorrow state must repent of their corrupt attitudes and turn a new leaf. They must return all their ill gotten wealth to the national treasury so that such monies could be channeled into jobs creation and developmental projects that will make life worth living. After a total internal cleansing, attitudinal change and corruption contained among the leaders, it will impact positively on the masses. This will in turn engender the masses to change their attitudes too. When the masses are gainfully employed, they will not have time for armed robbery, advanced fee fraud, hostage takings, cross bounder prostitution, trafficking in persons, kidnappings etc. Who will be gainfully employed and turn to armed robbery? Who will be gainfully employed and turn to prostitution, hostage takings, advanced fee fraud, etc? Secondly, corrupt leaders must be made to pay for their evil activities. Leaders accused of corruption should be tried in competent courts and those convicted should be sent to jail with hard labour. Their ill- gotten wealth should be confiscated from them and return to the national treasury. This will serve as deterrent to others. In a situation where leaders steal from the national treasury with impunity, encourages others to follow suit. In a situation like this, criminals we say, “after all nothing happened to Mr. A when he stole billions of naira, nothing will happen to me too”. With this mindset, the corruption will continue, but if criminal are punished appropriately, corruption will die a natural death. Also, traditional rulers should stop conferring titles on people who have questionable characters and wealth. Religious preachers should stop preaching prosperity sermons. Since prosperity sermons started in this country, the moral values have been relegated to the background. Thirdly, the constitution should be amended to disqualify those indicted of corruption by panels of judicial inquiring from contesting for any elective offices for live. This will discourage people from engaging in corrupt practices. Most corrupt public office holders use their stolen wealth to sponsor their electioneering campaigns and other related activities. President Barak Obama of United States of America did not steal public funds to sponsor his election campaigns. He has no godfather either. His godfather is his party’s rich ideology and manifestoes. This is why he is confident among his law makers. He owes nobody allegiance or loyalty except his party’s policy and the American Constitution which he took oath of office to protect. Fourthly, the judiciary should be made to be independent and strengthened. The judiciary should be empowered to treat everybody equally before the law. There should be no sacred cows; everybody must be equal before the law. Nothing destroys a country more than when some people are seen as being above the law while others are under the law. Also, this present government that claimed to be fighting corruption should pass the Freedom of Information Bill into law without further delay. This is one instrument that is vital in fighting corruption all over the world. Without easy access to information, no group of persons, individuals or government can fight corruption. Availability of information is what is used to combat corruption all over the world. With easy access to information and strong judiciary, corruption will be eradicated from the country. It is when we see that there is a change in the entire state called Nigeria, we can now come openly and tell the world that we used to be bad people due to failure of governance, today our leaders have changed. There is no more corruption among our leaders. The money our leaders stashed away in foreign banks have been repatriated and used to build industries. There is now regular supply of electricity and water. The roads have been rehabilitated and the education sector has been improved. The masses are now gainfully employed and have turned away from crimes like their leaders did. We are now decent people who you can trust and do business with, without fear. We can then give an open invitation to the outside world to come and see things for themselves. At the moment, if we tell the world to come and see things for themselves, if they come, they will be disappointed because they will actually see the above mentioned vices all over the country. Let there be internal cleansing, attitudinal change and reorientation among the leaders. This will in turn impact positively on the masses. This is so because when the head is bad, the whole body will be bad too. The reason why the masses are involved in the above mentioned crimes was due to the leaders who stole their commonwealth. Once the leaders have a change of attitude and turn a new leaf, the masses will take example from them and follow suit.