By NBF News
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L-R: Barr. Jide Ologun, Mrs. Mamora, Sen. Mamora and Mrs. Fashola

It was the 21st Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the yearly public lecture of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Lagos chapter. Public relations practitioners based in Lagos have always utilized the lecture forum as a unique platform for discourse on issues bordering on the development and management of national reputation and good governance.

In two months time, the nation will be agog with celebrations of her 50th independence anniversary. Anniversaries are naturally times of reflections, appraisals, amendments, re-strategising and re-engineering. Questions of this nature will now arise. How has Brand Nigeria fared in 50 years? How competitive is Brand Nigeria in the global sphere? One thing remains clear. Lack of quality reputation has consistently been the bane of Brand Nigeria.

Senate Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Olorunimbe Mamora, keynote speaker at the lecture, recalled the confession of Prof. Dora Akunyili, Information and Communications Minister and the nation's rebranding Chief Srategist, as quoted at the launch of the re-branding campaign: 'At the international airport, in trains, in shopping malls, almost everywhere, every Nigerian is a marked person. We are pulled aside for questioning. We are seen as potential drug pushers or fraudsters. We are unfortunately denied the benefit of doubt.' No Public Relations professional worth his onions will fold his arms and watch Nigeria's image erode.

Expectedly, the reputation custodians threw their spotlight on Nigeria's obvious unpleasant reputation, which they traced to the consequences of bad leadership.

They went to the drawing board and devoted the 2010 public lecture to 'Building national reputation through leadership development'. The Chairman, NIPR, Lagos Chapter, Jide Ologun, during his welcome address at the lecture, held recently in Lagos, said leadership is all about reputation.' Reputation gives the edge of excellence as it was once declared that 'there is no bad reputation, you either have or lack reputation'.

Today, the leadership reputation of our great country leaves much to be desired, which ultimately affects her competitive advantage in the global community. What is not in doubt is that we have a good foundation'.

Ologun reiterated that what the country needs now is building national reputation through leadership development. Sen. Mamora felt otherwise, though he concurred with the theme of the AGM, which he said is apt as this is the year of Nigeria's Golden Jubilee. He therefore, titled his presentation: 'National reputation through leadership development: How relevant to Nigeria at jubilee.'

Prof. Akin Oyebode, former Vice-Chancellor of University of Ado Ekiti and now teaches law at the University of Lagos and Marvel Akpoyibo, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, were Guest Speakers at the event. Dr. Reuben Abati, The Guradian Editorial Board Chairman, played the dual role of Rapporteur and Facilitator of the discussions. Mrs. Abimbola Fashola represented her husband, Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), as Chief Host. Mrs. Mamora gave a good account of the role of a housewife in home and nation building.

Sen. Mamora gave a graphic description of what Nigerians face and how it has affected our progress.

How the vision of our founding fathers was battered

Nigeria, We Hail Thee
Our own Dear Native Land
Through Tribe and Tongue may differ
In Brotherhood We Stand
Nigerians all are proud to serve
Our sovereign Motherland.
Sen. Mamora recited the first national anthem and participants sang along with him. He said these beautiful words were the vision of our founding fathers, as their bright faces lit up with expectancy on October 1, 1960, at the lowering of the Union Jack, by the British colonialist. He lamented that little did it occur to them that the same geographical entity to which they gave their youthful vigour and sleepless nights fashioning out its structural lay-out, would turn out into the horrible shape it is today.

Sen. Mamora narrated how the hopes of 'our heroes pass' for a great Nigerian nation died with them.

'Barely about seven years later, the resolve for an optimistic future suffered its first test, as the expectations of Nigerians dissolved into gloom and hopes were dashed, resulting in a three-year civil war that claimed millions of lives. After this supreme sacrifice, the nation emerged with a stronger resolve to forge a better and stronger union couched in the post-war slogan of 'No Victor, No Vanquished.'' Since then, Nigeria of about 140 million people has vacillated from one harrowing experience to the other. There were military coups and counter-coups.'

'Soon afterwards, there was the oil boom which dislodged our agriculture, which many believe afforded us a more stable source of GDP, Nigeria was set to join the league of the other industrialized nations of the world. In fact, most of the Countries we started out with early at Independence, especially, the Asian tigers, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Koreans, etc, are basking in economic buoyancy and left us behind. Some of them came to us for the improvement of their agriculture like Malaysia, but for reasons bothering on incompetent leadership, Nigeria today has become a consumer nation, brazenly priding ourselves in our insatiable appetite for imported goods,' he said.

According to him, the hope which Nigerians earlier entertained was further dashed when our new crop of political contractors pretending to be leaders, took over the reins of power from the patriots that fought for the freedom we all are enjoying today.

Implications of military rule
It is hardly debatable that the nation's drawback has largely been linked to the caliber of leadership that has held on to its jugular since independence at 1960.

Sen. Mamora charged that the truth must be told if we must patriotically and honesty address the relevance of Nigeria's reputation vis-a -vis its inability for efficient and effective leadership.

He explained that as a result of military intervention in governance, the nation has experienced succession of imposed autocratic leaders, who set their goals without considering the opinion or feelings, or needs of the followers, and then, command their followers to execute their assigned tasks without question. He stressed that this trend, of course, seems acculturated by successive civilian administrations which have led to the death of consultative leaders, who solicit the opinions and ideas of their followers in the goal-setting process to ultimately determine truly national goals in line with the will of the people. He referred to Socrates who once reminded us that 'the good of the people is the supreme law.''

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