Theft mars Nigerian ‘re-branding’

“The handset was swiped as Isawa Elaigwu entered the conference centre
Thieves stole a mobile phone belonging to a member of a new team campaigning to improve Nigeria’s image as a country riddled by crime and chaos.

Isawa Elaigwu told the launch of the “rebrand Nigeria” campaign he noticed the phone was gone minutes before he was due to address the event.

“As I was entering the gates of the conference centre I noticed I had been pick-pocketed,” he said.

“This is just the sort of thing we need to fight against”.

Nigeria is often seen abroad as a violent and chaotic place, full of people who use e-mail scams to cheat money out of unwitting victims.

‘Most dangerous’

Its commercial capital Lagos recently topped a poll of the world’s most dangerous places to work.

The Information Ministry hopes to change this bad reputation with a public relations campaign.

Nigeria cannot wait until its solved all its problems before addressing its image

Dora Akunyili
Information Minister
On Tuesday the ministry unveiled a new slogan “Nigeria: Good people, great country”, and a logo.

Information Minister Dora Akunyili, who made her name as a fierce campaigner against fake drugs, said the country’s reputation was unfair.

“We must shed this toga that says we are untrustworthy, unreliable and ungovernable,” she said.

She admitted that the country did have real problems with poverty, corruption and infrastructure, but that wouldn’t stop them trying.

“Some people say: ‘Why rebrand now?’ Nigeria cannot wait until its solved all its problems before addressing its image.”

Better life

A better image would improve tourism and encourage businesses to invest in Nigeria, she said.

As Nigerian’s own perception of themselves improved they would be less inclined to commit crime, she said.

The previous administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo had a similar campaign to improve Nigeria’s image called “Heart of Africa”.

Local media reported that the government spent $5.6million (£4million) on it in one year.

It was scrapped by Mrs Akunyili last year.

The minister last week promised the National Assembly the “good people great country” campaign will cost a lot less, and spending will be transparent.”