Prof Dora Akunyili and NNC

Written by
Written by

Deolu Akinyemi

Yesterday night, I got an sms from someone yesterday that Dora Akunyili might actually be looking for the New Nigeria Club. That I need to get searching and find out exactly how to link up with her.  I took the information in my stride, showed a few colleagues with the intention of getting all the creative juices flowing. I continued through the night and slept, only to be woken up this morning by a phone call from senior officer in the Ministry of Education. 

The question rang clear pulling me out of dream world, the assumptions the same – “Dora Akunyili is looking for something in the perimeters of what you people are doing in the New Nigeria Club!”  That got me to an early start this morning, checking the news and rummaging through the dailies, the TV and all sources of information on what exactly could be happening. What exactly does Dora Akunyili want, and how does it concern us at the New Nigeria Club?  My search was rewarding, but it didn’t leave me with answers, it left me with questions. Questions are not bad however, wisdom is a function of questions, intelligence a function of answers. I’ll like to call an emergency meeting, online and offline of New Nigeria Club members, let’s brainstorm on this together, and let’s see if we need to be invovled with this.

Overview of what the Ministry of Information desires.

The Ministry of  Information has come to jettison the Heart of Africa branding project which did not work for me, and based on my interactions,  I believe the same for most of us.  The head of the ministry, Prof Dora Akunyili unveiled a new intitiative to market Nigeria with a Rebranding Nigeria Campaign. She also launched a competition for the logo and slogan for the campaign. She believes this competition will yeild something that will last, just like our flag lasted.

Re-Branding Nigeria? What’s the Concept?

The heart beat of this campaign is correct the perceptions of Nigerians at home and abroad.  It is an unfair occurence but today, any black person involved in any criminal activithy is first tagged a Nigerian. Things are bad, but not as bad as it’s currently percieved. Today, even criminals from other African countries prefer to hide their identities by claiming to be Nigerians.  Apparently she got some data while she was  the director of  NAFDAC to support these claims. She actually got a letter of apology from the EU for a case where Nigeria was accused only for investigations to be concluded and it was discovered that the criminals where Ghanians. According to the excerpts I read, she is clear in her thoughts that she wants Nigeria rebranded, so we can be percieved differently from how we are today.

Why Jettison Heart of Africa Project

The Heart of Africa Project is being jettisoned for many reasons, and in her words, two ver important reaons.  Aside of the fact that the Project has not had any impact relative to the issues Nigerians are facing all over the world, there are two other main reasons for junking the project.

1. The name being contentious – Malawi was the first to use the slogan, and many other countries have laid claim to being the Heart of Africa.

2. The Heart of Africa was launched overseas and failed to connect with Nigerians at home, making the project elitist.

Aside of this the project was not very cost effective.

Based on all these, the ministry has decided to embark on a New Nigeria project that will be home-grown and planned in such a way that Nigerians will have ownership of the project. Yes they will leverage on the positive things in the Heart of Africa project!

New Nigeria Club – Do We Support this?

I don’t know about you, but the more I read what she has in mind, the more I see for a fact that what she is looking for in Sokoto (Upcountry), is already in the Sokoto (Trousers). The rebranding that our country needs first needs to re-orient Nigerians and show them who they truly are, the values we as a new nation subscribe to, and where we are headed. Then we need to move quickly to show the world that we are great people and the miscreants among us are outnumbered! We must borrow a leaf from corporate branding – 50% of our branding budget must be spent on developing the brand ambassadors. The people who are Nigerians need to see themselves the way Nigerians ought to be projected, once that is ingrained and well done, the rest becomes easy. No matter how much we stick customer service on our lintel, the customer service lady’s action will speak much louder than those words. 

In the last 1yr plus of our existence, we have been utilizing all forms of channels and avenues to build a truly Nigeria owned, home grown, internal and external rebranding machinery called the New Nigeria Club. We have gone to over 20 higher institutions, addressed over 50,000 Nigerians offline, millions online, we have reached beyond the phyiscal boundaries called Nigeria, to Nigeria and Nigerians in Diaspora – UK, US, Candada, Ireland, e.t.c. We hav been on radio, we have featured on Television, we have branded t-shirts, branded cash cards, wear Nigeria lapel pins, branded CDs and DVDs like Nigeria’s map, we have sponsored events, sponsored atheletes, supported orphanages, given scholarships, empowered people, collaborated with other change agents and done our widows might in achieving a truly New Nigeria.

We have a choice however today, do we support this government in this national re-branding? Or will we be accused of doing what Dora was accused of doing – A la destroying her reputation by joining this government? Or do we tell ourselves that our responsibility as light is to look for where it’s dark and shine there, irrespective of whatever prejudices. How to reach Dora is not a problem, she is actually 1 person away from us. The question is as a group, what are your thoughts? I want as many members as possible to share their views on this. Do we work with a government, or do we continue without the government. I’m a member and have my views, but I feel it’s only right that we get on board as many views as possible. In the multitude of counsellors there is safety. And if you are stil wasting time and haven’t joined the New Nigeria Club. Go to and join today!

{This post is duplicated on the New Nigeria Club Blog, and is sent as an email to all members of the club as well.}

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