Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rebranding country is not for money-making - Akunyili

Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili has said in Abuja, that "Re-branding Nigeria Image" project was not a money-making venture.

Akunyili made the clarification at a forum to initiate the project to replace the former image project, Heart of Africa.

She said: " I want to assure Nigerians that this is not a money-making venture. If money was my goal and I say it with all sincerity, I would have stuck with the Heart of Africa project, since it was mainly overseas oriented.

"I would have planned trips to countries, pick my allowances and have few hours meeting with Nigerians and foreigners, pay courtesy calls to information ministers, have photo sessions, take some rest and maybe do a little shopping. "But I have chosen the tedious option of evolving a home-grown branding which will involve all Nigerians."

Akunyili maintained that the Heart of Africa, just as past projects as Green Revolution and Vision 2000, failed to achieve their desired objectives due to a lack of public support.

Akunyili said: "Heart of Africa could not fly for many reasons. The name was contentious as Malawi was the first to use that slogan.

"Many other African countries have laid claim to being the Heart of Africa. Secondly, it was launched overseas and that automatically disconnected the ordinary Nigerians.

"However, we are not going to throw away the baby with the bath water. We will incorporate all the positive aspects of the Heart of Africa and other government initiatives."

According to her, the new branding project will be cost effective, as the ministry will only make use of local consultants. "We also intend to get free publicity for our international audience through Nigeria private institutions," she said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the focus of the Heart of Africa, started in 2004, was image management through campaign against negative stereotypes.

In 2008, the project, which is domiciled in the Ministry of Information, received N300 million budget. The House Committee Chairman on Information and National Orientation, Mr. Dino Melaye, lamented the waste of billions of naira in the Heart of Africa project by past administrations.

"I had told the minister during the defense of the Ministry's budget last month that we are not going to approve one naira for the Heart of Africa project. "This is because billions of naira appropriated for the project in the past was used for travelling and tourism globally. "Domestic issues should have been tackled domestically. You have to tackle the problems in this country before you start gallivanting abroad," Melaye told NAN.

He gave an assurance that the committee would ensure that appropriate funds were provided for the new image project in the 2010 budget, after an appraisal of its performance this year.

Responding to the minister's address, the Director-General of NTA, Malam Usman Magawata, appealed for more government support, noting that the station was ready for the re-branding project.

"In NTA, we try to differentiate between national exposure and international appeal.Whatever that is not in the interest of Nigeria should not be for external consumption," he said.

Daily Champion

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