Revisiting The 40th NCIC Meeting

0
478
Akunyili
Akunyili

For three days, three nights, Information and Communication Managers, Directors, Media Moguls, news Managers and indeed top movers and shakers in the Information Industry, gathered in the Middle belt state of Benue. It was the fortieth meeting of the National Council on Information and Communication (NCIC) which held in Makurdi, between the seventeenth and nineteenth of June, 2009. Their mission was to address the myriad of challenges facing the Information management and the way forward. Therefore it came as no surprise that the theme of the meeting “Re-branding Nigeria: Prospects and challenges” was the central focus. To emphasise the import at the Makurdi gathering, doyens of information, scholars, professors and professionals from within and outside the country did justice to the theme “re-branding Nigeria: Prospects and challenges through vigorous enthusiastic and robust de deliberations.” Interestingly, discussions flowed at the Makurdi Information meet, to a new level hitherto unimaginable and struck home to Nigerians the reality of the re-branding slogan that all must embrace, to push the nation forward. And Governor Gabriel Suswan of Benue state, the host had an ample opportunity to proudly show-case the democratic dividends he has brought for his people through transforming Urban and rural areas. For instance, just two years in office, he has done so much to bring hope to the people of Benue state through the provision of basic projects to ensure good governance. In the rural areas, roads, water and other infrastructure were accorded priority, little wonder he was voted the best Governor on infrastructure. Acknowledging his modest achievements, governor Suswan told his August guests that ‘you can’t call yourself a leader when your people are wallowing in poverty”. These words set the tone that re-branding of Nigeria would only get maximum effect with good governance. Clearly, huge encomiums poured on Professor Dora Akunyili, the Minister of Information and communication the arrowhead of the Re-branding of Nigeria project demonstrating the conviction of her person, her thoughtfulness and commitment. This is further boosted in the assertive, powerful, eloquent manner Professor Dora Akunyili carried the re-branding slogan campaign thus proving her critics who queried her suitability for the job wrong. However, the prospects for succeeding in the re-branding project are huge and the challenges are enormous. For the re-branding project to succeed, the question being asked in various quarters is the sustainability of the project . This is imperative because attempts to change Nigeria’s image can be traced to late General Murtala Mohammed’s efforts of sanitization of the Civil Service in the seventies and those of the duo of General’s Mohammadu Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon with the “War Against Indiscipline” aimed at changing the mentality of Nigerians. Despite the lofty goals of WAI and its attendant success, the excellent record achieved rapidly died the moment the Generals were eased out of office. Regrettably the non-sustainability of the tenets of WAI drew the country several years behind Was it really too difficult to sustain? In two thousand and four in the present democratic dispensation, Mr. Frank Nweke Jnr, who replaced Chikelu, came up with the “Heart of Africa” project. The major flow in the Nweke gambit was that it targeted, foreigners and Nigerians in the Diaspora rather than the home front. Its biggest flaw was the colossal sum on foreign adverts, which commentators claimed was higher than the collective advertising expenditure in the Nigerian media for the entire one year. Perhaps, the concern is for a mechanism to ensure continuity and sustainability of the re-branding project should Professor Akuyili leave office tomorrow. This is a crucial challenge that must be addressed so that the efforts being put into the project do not go in vain as its predecessors. Added to this is the obvious question, how do we intend to go about the re-branding? What is wrong with the past efforts? How can Nigerians change their attitudes? ‘ How do we get the elites to change their attitude to poverty, unemployment, healthcare, trade, policies and leadership style? Several political commentators have strongly maintained that the problem with Nigeria is not the citizens but leadership. Nigeria needs purposeful and committed leaders who can mobilize Nigerians to promote the image of the country and change their negative attitude. Indeed, for any re-branding project to succeed the leaders must wake up to their responsibilities If this is not done, all efforts in this regard may end up as an exercise in futility. This is the bitter truth, and as Nigerians applaud Professor Akunyili for her great job at NAFDAC and indeed celebrate the few committed, honest, hard-working and transparent people that the democratic dispensation has thrown up, then it would be apparent that the re-branding slogan has taken firm root. It is lamentable that such words like ‘indigenes: ‘non-indigenes’ and settlers still determine how each Nigerian is treated across the country, while resource control, and true federalism are almost no-go areas. No doubt, the problem is the lack of faith in the leadership and office holders, the apathy to government and political leadership like the situation in Anambra state stem from the fact that the people view government as an abstract one whose existence does little or none to impact on their lives. Here in Bayelsa state, a contractor got a job worth Sixty Million Naira to landscape the premises of Radio Bayelsa, he merely threw up a few heaps of sand and disappeared with the money. Yet another collected close to a Billion Naira up front to fix the Yenagoa sports complex and disappeared with the money Indeed, these untrustworthy and unreliable characters are the problem, not the governor. Governor Timipre Sylva is visionary and innovative and for him re-branding is no problem. We must re-brand by eschewing evil, slander, bring-him-down syndrome, destructive petitioning and the crave to have the state finances shared There is the need to focus on the good and do away with the bad. Bayelsans must be associated with positive achievements and not branded as bunkers, kidnappers, pirates, arsonists and collateral oil facility destroyers.. So much development is happening across the country, Lagos to Benue, Enugu to Niger, Port Harcourt to Nasarawa.. Good governance is leadership by example. Leadership is not as titular as it is attitudinal. And above all, Bayelsans should key into Governor Timipre Sylva’s vision of deliberate measures of development dynamics make agriculture and fisheries a compelling areas of investment and economic prosperity. That way, the state will have been re-packaged and re-branded and a force to reckon with in the comity of states in the country. Mr. Thompson is the General Manager of Bayelsa Radio Broadcasting Corporation, Yenagoa.