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Let’s Take Ownership Of Nigerian Brand- Ajakaye Tasks Media Practitioners

Rafiu Ajakaye


Let’s Take Ownership Of Nigerian Brand- Ajakaye Tasks Media Practitioners

The image we carve for our country is what sticks to it

Ilorin, Kwara State– The 2023  Press Week lecture and awards of Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kwara State Council with the theme “Role of the media in Nigeria’s soft power conundrum.”

Rafiu Ajakaye, Chief Press Secretary to the Kwara State Governor, delved into the intricate relationship between the media and Nigeria’s soft power dynamics.

He highlighted the evolving nature of the media in the 21st century, encompassing traditional platforms as well as the myriad forms of new media spawned by the internet.

Drawing on the power of the media to shape public opinion and influence perceptions, Ajakaye emphasized its role in the global competition for resources, both human and material.

He explained the historical use of media by civilizations to strategically portray themselves, shaping how they are perceived internationally.

The term “soft power,” coined by political scientist Joseph Nye Jr., was central to Ajakaye’s discourse. He defined it as a nation’s ability to influence others without resorting to coercive pressure.

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Soft power, according to Ajakaye, is a vital tool for countries to achieve their national interests on the global stage, contrasting it with raw military power that often triggers hostilities.

The Chief Press Secretary asserted that building soft power requires concerted efforts and campaigns, with the media playing a pivotal role.

He urged media professionals to take ownership of the Nigerian brand, emphasizing that a nation’s brand has a profound impact on its economy, influencing tourism, foreign direct investment, and overall GDP.

Ajakaye referenced successful nation branding campaigns like “Incredible India” and “Essential Costa Rica,” highlighting the positive portrayal of these nations in the media.

He urged the media to contribute to the collective effort of projecting Nigeria positively, emphasizing that soft power is better projected through third parties, especially the media.

Ajakaye addressed the importance of perception, urging media practitioners to filter negative portrayals of Nigeria to the global audience.

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“The image we carve for our country is what sticks to it. If we call it a failed state because of its imperfections and crises of nation-building, which are hardly exclusive to it, the result we get is what we call it.

“All of the nations we call the bastion of democracy or glamorise with every positive have or have had their own failings or down moments — perhaps worse than ours — which they paper over with nice narratives and excuses in their pursuits of national branding.”

Ajakaye acknowledged the challenges facing the nation but stressed the need to strike a balance between reporting developments and being patriotic stakeholders.

He concluded by urging the media to give Nigeria a positive image, quoting a Yoruba saying, “Bi onigba ba se pe igba e, la o baa pe. Bi o nigba ba pe igba e ni akufo, a o pe ni akikara” — translating to, “If one constantly calls oneself a failure, that’s what one becomes. If you call yourself a success, you become one.”

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The Chairman of Correspondents’ Chapel in Ilorin, Mallam AbdulHakeem Garba explained the transformative power of the media in shaping public opinion and influencing various aspects of societal dynamics.

Garba acknowledged the multifaceted role of the media, extending beyond traditional forms to encompass the diverse platforms facilitated by the internet.

He emphasized the media’s ability not only to report events but also to actively influence the shaping of narratives and perceptions.

He stressed the importance of strategic nation branding and the need for a collective effort to project a positive image of Nigeria.

Garba acknowledged the challenges and responsibilities associated with this influential role. He called for a balanced approach, urging media practitioners to exercise discretion in their reporting, particularly on issues that could impact the nation’s image.

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