Wednesday 1 July 2009

Nigeria: Ministers' perception of bad image

Perceptions of image

Nothing gets me so irked than to read half-truths and sometimes untruths upon which the principals have entered into a determined scheme of denial whilst pasting every external element in sight with blame.

The Nigerian Guardian reports that the Nigerian Ministers of Finance and Information blame the media and human trafficking for Nigeria’s bad image [1].

I quote liberally from that news story acknowledging the source to be the Guardian Newspapers.

Whilst the plight of human trafficking is a very serious issue that has hit our screens over time, I would be hard pressed to find any recent material on that matter as compared to the Niger Delta crisis and the way it imparts on the oil infrastructure and oil markets, the inability to conduct decent elections and the sometimes unfavourably slanted reference to Nigeria when it comes to scam letters.

The West has people in Nigeria too

Let us examine the premise put forward by these esteemed servants of the Federation of Nigerian, the Finance Minister, Dr. Mansur Muhtar revealed, “there was a lot of negative reports from the local media and these in turn shaped what the Western media and investors think about the country.”

Interesting insight suggesting the Western media do not have liaison offices and personnel in major cities of Africa’s largest “democracy” and one time its biggest oil producer. Investors would come from countries that probably have embassies plugged into Nigeria and its environment for business and Nigeria belongs to many trade and bilateral organisations that would have representatives in the country and there are international conglomerates operating in Nigeria already.

It is a bit far-fetched to suggest that it is the local media that serves as the main news feed for the International press thus the main source of the bad image of Nigeria.

Credit comes with noticeable impact

The same minister went on to say, “the public seemed not to be giving enough credit to government for what was being achieved.

Whilst Nigerians might like to hire praise-singers they are not effusive in praise for situations that impact on them negatively. Unlike in the West where we desire and demand small government; where infrastructure, power, transport, health, education and water resources do not seem to be available to the common man, that country needs big government.

The minister must understand that to gain any credit, the activities of government must touch people’s lives – roads for their business activities, power that meets the needs for a developing nation, integrated transport with focus on railways, hospitals that have qualified personnel and unadulterated drugs accessible to the majority, schools that have materials and can stay open the whole year round and really potable water.

Unfortunately, the ministers live in the exclusive decadence of opulence called Abuja almost oblivious of the realities that meet everyday lives such that they expect praise from postulation rather than action that really changes lives for the better.

The enormity of the challenges

I suppose what really puts it all in perspective comes from this further statement; “... government's efforts are not being given enough recognition and coupled with the enormity of the challenges not being appreciated.”

Nigerians know the challenges they face every day, the need to survive, the need to keep a roof over their heads, the need to put food on their tables and the undying optimism that things would improve.

What they expect of their government is first of all competence, the statement the minister made cuts the other way which questions whether the government has ever appreciated the enormity of the challenge of steering the ship of state called Nigeria.

10 years is some time

Blaming previous governments for our problems today is becoming an unforgivable excuse, the same party has been in power for 10 years, a fifth of the time that Nigeria has been independent, 10 years is a long time to turn a country round if the leaders can exhibit a modicum of competence.

I am happy that the Minister of Information has also recognised the negative element of human trafficking and child abuse, however, it does not go far enough as a matter of the Nigerian image abroad if it does not also address the more controversial issue of child sexual abuse within Nigeria itself.

Deliver and trust will follow

If the “people no longer had trust in the government to deliver its promises,” it would appear no tangible promises have yet been delivered on because like I said earlier in my blog; impact would bring recognition, Nigerians would no more stand for the voluble, loquacious and vacuous politician with promises by the truckload – I am sorry, we are looking for results not the thought and ceremony about actions.

Let us see ceremonies at completed projects not stupid foundation-laying ceremonies for white elephants.

In all, I think the ministers are looking for sycophants to sing their praises in vacuity and publish lies and vague achievements to give the government credit for nothing and hoodwink Nigerians with statistics and platitudes without showing real results.

Methinks, the ministers are in deep denial.


[1] Guardian Newspapers: Muhtar, Akunyili blame Nigeria's bad image on media, human trafficking

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