Sunday, 25 August 2019 18:36

[OPINION] The ‘Offensive’ on Brand Nigeria - Afeez Odunoye


Nigeria is entangled in a not so fantastic reputation management situation. Mentioning Nigeria in some quarters now holds the possibility of driving shivers of threat. The repugnant state of affairs has pushed trust beyond reach in the minds of individuals and corporate entities desirous of deepening business interests in our terrain. These thoughts follow recent tales of inglorious acts orchestrated by some citizens widely reported by foreign and local media. The tales are the same from Lagos to London: some Nigerians have allegedly made money through questionable means. This should worry each one of us.

Victims of these actions swell every day. UK-based sales company, Unatrac Holdings and Dynamics Intelligence, a Canadian technological firm are the latest victims of these demeaning acts. News reports of the last seven days have underlined the troubling nature of the development. While Unatrac Holdings was allegedly defrauded of $12 million by celebrated Nigerian billionaire, Obinwanne Okeke, according to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Dynamics Intelligence grappled with recurring cases of ‘extortion and distrust’ from its employees and contractors. The state of affairs has forced Dynamics Intelligence out of Nigeria.

Dynamic Intelligence boss, Jenna Bourgeois shared the company’s story in a critical LinkedIn post on Thursday, to announce its exit from Nigeria. He wrote: “Effective immediately, we will be closing our operations in Nigeria. Over the last year, we have faced numerous examples of employees and contractors extorting the company. While we kept giving Nigerians a chance to gain skills and employment, we cannot run a company when we can’t trust the people who work for us. Any company interested in conducting business in Nigeria can reach out to us to learn how to avoid being scammed by technical resources. It is a kick in our face that we spent so much time trying to give Nigerians the benefit of the doubt to have this happen.

Customers who wish to outsource, are well advised to seek an India-owned company for the best results.” Bourgeois was quick to add #Nigeria to the injury. This holds economic threats to Brand Nigeria. This should worry each one of us.

In brand management, when a personal/corporate brand comes under damning reputation damages, determining factors responsible for this becomes imperative. What is amiss? What is not being done properly? This is what Brand Nigeria needs right now.

Nigeria is in a pitiable, yet redeemable state. But to get out of this, we must set to search for lost values. Illegality is a norm at the moment. You see people revel in pomp and pageantry made possible by creating inroads into funds gathered from sweat and long hours of hard work put in by Nigerians and non-Nigerians. These conmen are the role models of some of our youth. This shameful structure is peopled by these groups daily. They have lost touch of self-respect and compassion. This should worry each one of us.

Bourgeois ‘angry post’ points to the relegation of resourcefulness and sacrifice, both core components of The Critics Company – a group of eight student filmmakers who hope to establish successful careers in Nigeria’s Nollywood someday. The group did not cave under social pressure. They are striving for excellence in a society that strengthens wire wire and a host of other malfeasances.

Setting out to deal with an issue as vital as cleaning the dirt off Nigeria’s name and reputation effected by the insensitivities of a few demands admitting we have an issue to deal with in the first place. We cannot afford to keep hiding under the pretext that just a few people are embroiled in fraudulent ventures.

As daunting as the challenge of repairing the damage caused to Nigeria’s image and reputation seems, the government at the centre must assume a reassuring position to clean this mess. To clean the mess, it will be foolhardy to assume the proactive position at this point. Rather, the fusion of reactive and multimodal strategies comprising temporary and long term solutions holds many benefits for the country.

An ideal starting point is the appraisal of reasons behind the eroding of values in the Nigerian society. Is it from the leaders or citizens? Or both groups? Is it a function of loss of confidence in critical sectors of our national life?

The Federal Government has not responded well to the development. Versed brand builder, Kevin Harrington has some reputation control suggestions for Nigeria. In his piece, 6 Quick Fix Tips for Reputation Repair, Harrington notes that brand enmeshed in reputation issues must identify the source of pain, take control and seek to destroy them.

With government identifying more with value reorientation, which I hope they will get to do, citizens must also join the bid by pointing people towards dignity, self-respect and wealth accumulation without outsmarting others in individual corners. The onus of repairing the damage to Brand Nigeria rests on the shoulders of each one of us. It is a task that must be accomplished.

- Odunoye, a social commentator wrote in from Lagos.

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