Marketing the Centenary Project and Mr. President’s Promise

Marketing the Nigeria Centenary ProjectAs preparations to celebrate Nigeria’s nationhood at 100 years are building up, I know effective marketing of the concept to Nigerians is quite significant. From the angle of an expert in the field, and considering the Nigerian parlance“Wetin man wey no happy dey celebrate?" – What is your stand about achieving a successful centenary celebration going by glaring disheartening mood of the people? - I.J. Wilcox

As applicable to all other forms of national (and even corporate) celebrations, marketing no doubt occupies a ‘centre stage’ in them. It must be noted that, aside various production-related input (esim. service rendition, product manufacture, and creative media input) often applicable in such festivities, the consumers of such offering (in this case, Nigerians) have to be taken along through various processes of marketing. With your “wetin man wey no happy dey celebrate?” you have indeed captured the mood of the country presently, which obviously mirrors perceived disenchantment from the prevalent style of governance. Effective marketing is only achieved where there is receptiveness and approval on the part of the target market or consumer.

I suggest a form of stimulant from advocates of this centenary project (the government), to rouse public interest through a reawakening process. To achieve this, there should be government’s portrayal of seriousness that draws peoples’ confidence, leading to a sense of belonging and patronage. Public conviction that President Goodluck Jonathan has lived up to his promise of, “…2013 will be better for us than 2012 in all aspects of the nation’s history…” is the key. If not, I see efforts at engagements in achieving a successful centenary celebration in 2014 resulting in mere jamboree, with no true and proud involvement of the people.

It should be recalled that on January 1, 1914, the Northern and Southern Protectorates of Nigeria were formally amalgamated into one country by Lord Fredrick Lugard, a British colonial officer. This implies that January 1, 2014 marks one hundred years of our union as a nation.

For a nation to have existed for 100 years is a landmark in nationhood, and as such whatever it takes to celebrate Nigeria’s centenary receives my support. This is more so when consideration is given to the need to commemorate the nation’s unity which stands out as the common symbol of its people’s collective existence. In spite of our challenges over these long years, it must be taken into reckoning that this anniversary requires to be celebrated by the people and government of Nigeria. In the words of a typical Nigerian, “100 years no bi joke”, hence the intended year-long celebrations making sense.

Having been severally involved in planning, organising, execution of related activities in the past; and without my getting into the nitty-gritty of marketing campaign highlights of anniversaries here, I expect organisers of this celebration to incorporate these in their action plan or ‘marketability’ becomes compromised:
Address a number of promises; project delivery for Nigeria-wide benefits; what comes the way of the average Nigerian (people’s priorities); having a central point for information on all aspects of the programme (esim. web site); delivery process for various parts of the country; arousing public interest via inspired mark, logo, theme-song; sectors of impact (esim. manufacturing, service provision, marketing/creative media, hospitality, travel, tourism, and construction); projecting Nigeria for improving businesses locally; international projection of Nigeria for business and tourism; and many others.

The centenary project, being proposed to be a private sector driven initiative (i.e. the federal government only inspiring the programme, and not organising it) makes the concept attractive from a marketing perspective. We know how the public would view any government or civil service run endeavour at this time, when it’s no longer news that there is perception about the government (along with operatives within it) and corruption being two sides of the same coin. Where government’s involvement in the programme remains as stated here, along with security and logistics, some degree of public confidence could be aroused, to favour private sector interest. However, the ultimate for the private sector is assurance of favourable returns on investment, as this comes before any inclination towards corporate social responsibility (CSR).

If the people (who comprise the market for the project) see it as unattractive, the private sector would likely waver despite whatever call for patriotism or CSR. So, stirring up the interests of Nigerians is quite crucial, and it is one ‘magnetic component’ the organisers of this celebration should ‘lash’ on to. This can be derived from change of public attitude as fallout of the President’s fulfillment of his promiseBridging the wide gap between expectation and reality in 2013.

Sometime in 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan in acknowledgement of an ongoing public ‘bashing’, urged Nigerians to tarry till 2013, in order to see reasons why he should be praised instead. In his Christmas message of the same year, containing“Let me assure Nigerians that 2013 will be better for us than 2012 in all aspects of the nation’s history. The new year will be better in terms of jobs and wealth creation and improved security among others…”the President further stressed the need for Nigerians to be expectant in 2013. With the promise of a ‘Transformation Agenda’ in 2011 which outlined plans to revive the economy, fight infrastructure decay, curb corruption, promote accountability and build public confidence in governance, the people are having their hopes raised.

Even where I am convinced that there is lack of political will to confront the albatross, corruption, with recent evidence of improvement in the areas of power, agriculture, roads, railway, and airports development, Mr. President must simply work to warm his way into the hearts of the people by keeping to his promise about 2013 (the year preceding the centenary celebration). The effect will be riddance of the disheartening mood of the people, coupled with a re-awakening of public support and sense of belonging, rendering them susceptible to any form of marketing for the centenary celebration.

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