First, on behalf of our President, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu and the Board and Management of the Ugwumba Center for Leadership Development in Africa, I want to wish #Nigerians, both at home and in Diaspora a “Happy Democracy Day!”
For the past 21 years, we have been celebrating Democracy Day in commemoration of our country’s return to a democratic rule in 1999 after several years of military dictatorship.
It is really a good thing but this year, the big questions that need urgent answers are: How far has our democracy fared? How far has the democratic rule affected the lives of Nigerians? How many Nigerians are truly proud to be called Nigerians? How do Nigerians see their President, their Governors and other state actors? How do foreigners behave when they hear you are a Nigerian, outside the shores of this land? How does the name, Nigeria sound outside the country?
These and more are the questions nagging for urgent answers from our leaders and all of us that are born, Nigerians…
Anyway, this democracy day message from our center is not meant to answer the above questions on behalf of the government or the people but we are here to express an urgent need to rebrand Nigeria.
Sometime in 2019, our President, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu was saddened when he listened to the Vice President, #ProfYemiOsinbajo lamenting what Nigerians are suffering abroad as a result of the negative global perception about us to the extent that in some countries, overseas, Nigerians are not allowed to open bank accounts even with their Nigerian international passports.
The above incident coupled with my encounter with some foreigners who publicly said the following in some international conferences I attended in Lagos led us into launching the #RebrandNigeriaCampaign in 2019: “The name, Nigeria stinks abroad. You Nigerians need to do something about your name. Our people tell us not to visit Nigeria but we are here and nothing is happening to us. Everywhere is beautiful and peaceful”.
As a non-governmental organization, we saw an urgent need to launch the Rebrand Nigeria Campaign since the Government cannot do it all alone.
Since 1999, without any type of support from any external sources, we have launched aggressive campaigns aimed at changing the ugly narratives about our country, Nigeria in foreign lands.
We developed a number of leadership programs targeting Nigerian youths, who today feel disappointed being citizens of Nigeria. These leadership programs for Nigerian youths are focused on changing their mindsets and inculcating in them our national values and how to begin to “Think Nigeria, First!”
To let foreigners know that all of us are not criminals, we daily showcase to the world, young Nigerians, who are contributing to both national and global development with their tech based innovations in the education, medicine, health care, agriculture, ICT, transportation, waste management, renewal energy sectors, etc. We call this set of young people our #RebrandNigeriaAmbassadors and over one hundred and fifty of them have already been showcased to the world.
We also introduced what is called the “Inspiring Country Actions Series” which is a program under the Rebrand Nigeria Campaign designed to keep Nigerians living within and in Diaspora abreast of Government’s policies and programs. We had to launch this program because, we observed a serious disconnection between the people and the government and this has resulted to the people not being aware of Government’s programs that are designed to improve their lives, improve food security, fight corruption, develop their communities, etc.
So, every week, through the Inspiring Country Actions Series, we spotlight and analyse on our social media platforms one particular program of the Federal Government that is people-oriented and that is contributing to the overall goal of our Rebrand Nigeria Campaign.
To “catch them young”, we designed what is called “Rebrand Nigeria Challenge”, which is an Essay Competition Series for secondary school students with the title: “My Responsibility to Nigeria”. This project will run from State to State in order to give room for the participation of more youths to enable us increase the impacts of the project, which is to change the mindsets of the youths about their country.
Still under the Rebrand Nigeria Campaign program, we also made room for the celebration of our big brothers and sisters above 40 years, who have excelled in their chosen careers and have contributed immensely to the development of our country. We call them our #RebrandNigeriaChampions and we choose one person for showcase every week.
Good people of Nigeria, we see all of these as our contributions in changing our image around the world and in re-orientating our youths in line with our national values.
We hereby call on other well meaning individuals, organizations and government agencies to join us in this Rebrand Nigeria Campaign because, we strongly believe that “we shall achieve more when we work together”
Nigerians must stop insulting our President and other leaders of this country on social media and elsewhere. That is where the re-branding begins…
As an organization that is desirous of changing the world by raising young leaders and young Chief Executives from the African continent, this is our Democracy Day Message for all Nigerians.
Happy Democracy Day!