I recall days in the past where I was forced to sing songs about Nigeria being the giant of Africa and a “promised land”.
It was Primary school at the time and I think I mostly belted out the song to get the attention I thought my sonorous voice needed, not necessarily paying attention to what the words implied.
Growing up, I heard enough on the news to know that Nigeria as a country was not well respected on the global scene, however, it wasn’t until I started to travel and interact with foreigners that I realized the depth of Nigeria’s negative image.
I recently had dinner with an eastern European dude who said to me that he had met a lot of Nigerians but none of them had been like me – “put together”, organized, independent.
He went on to share some of his experiences with other Nigerians, mentioning they were mostly loud, uncouth and dubious.
Of course, I felt inclined to put him in his place and tell him his impression of Nigeria was wrong, but then I thought…was he wrong though?
Yes, internationally, the pervasive corruption in Nigeria has tarnished her image with foreigners but also, her people play a huge role!
They way we conduct themselves has played a key role as well – we are usually the hard drugs importer and exporter, the armed robbers, the scammers and all sorts of negative things.
It is always like Nigerians are on the wrong side of the coin with everything.
Even in some foreign countries that claim not to be racists, they display racism to Nigerians.
They will scrutinize five times more before they grant entry to a Nigerian at their port of entry.
On the other hand, as a country, Nigeria has failed, woefully, to establish a fully independent, non-partisan, and capable electoral system and this also has affected the way we are perceived globally.
Foreign nationals and companies are hesitant to invest in brilliant start-ups by Nigerians, they are also very cautious in entering into business transactions with Nigerians.
Sone of the ones that even set up shop in Nigeria are leaving.
There is the recent rumour that ExxonMobil is leaving! Clearly, these developments are continually weakening the economic sector.
Nigeria’s young, vibrant labor force is migrating in droves.
There is a massive brain drain, but even more painful is that, the bright Nigerians in the diaspora are still somewhat treated with disdain or as second class citizens.
They also are not adequately protected by their diplomatic missions.
What happened to that? Why was it paused?
I believe effective public relations practitioners should be integrated into government, especially in the case of international relations in order to effectively boost the image of the country abroad.
Public relations should be effectively integrated and should be involved in the formulation of policies as they concern the international community.
Nigeria should endeavor to promote the welfare of Nigerian’s abroad to ensure they are treated with respect and dignity in all circumstances.
And very importantly, the place of Nigerians in the Diaspora towards nation building in the new world order should be recognized, encouraged and emphasized.
This is because they have a prominent role in advancing the foreign policy of the country, as such, they ought to be given adequate diplomatic attention.
What do you think?