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Tinubu must hear Uganda v Nigeria story

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His Excellency Sir,

I write to commend you on your activities of drawing attention to the country in your quest to revive the economic challenges.

In the line with what you are doing, I want to draw your attention to the National Advertising Conference scheduled to hold between 7th and 8th December 2023 with the theme, ‘Marketing Communication as an Enabler of National Transformation’.

The quality of the speakers and guests that will grace the event is a pointer to the desire of practitioners of marketing communications in the country to see our beloved country appropriately positioned among the community of nations. However, we are leaving the fundamentals of destination marketing, destination branding and National Reputation Management as game of chance based on the narratives emanating from the activities of government actors.

I commend the team behind the National Advertising Conference.

His Excellency, as the Chief Brand Custodian and Chief Marketing Officer of the country, it is time we aggregate our conversation to the world from our internal behaviour to the external that we so much desire to have Foreign Direct Investment.

There seems to be a contradiction of behaviours that are present; a mixed conversation that when we look around, we are far behind on the destination marketing.

Let us look at Uganda against the backdrop of the names of leaders such as Idi-Amin Dada, Kaguta Museveni and Milton Obote. These leaders left us with narratives that gave the world movies such as 90 Minutes at Entebbe and the Rise and Fall of Idi Amin.

Today, that airport is sending out a different and more enticing or appealing story not enabled by anything but cultural shift in service offering. Based on this, we need to review our cultural behaviour in service offerings as men and women of marketing communications gather to look at the profession as an enabler of national transformation.

We probably have suffered a short but terrible culture of poor service delivery across board to the extent that now it is normal for payment for service to be regarded a s a favour from the supplier of such service to the payer.

A review of scenarios at Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) against the backdrop of all the infrastructural evolution happening at same airport will be that behavioural change is probably not as fast as infrastructural changes.

The activities of personnel representing various agencies at the airport is almost a compulsory demand for money to simply clear or check-in of bags to the extent that the measure of attention is in relation to the expected to unofficial exchange. That is a culture we are selling to the world. While the investment in the infrastructure is beautiful, the human elements are left behind in re-modelling and reshaping.

Over 223 million people, no national carrier and we are yet to call out the people that have consistently abused the process of achieving that, while a nation with about 42 million people in the east of Africa is setting new standards in the aviation industry with new aspiration as the ‘Crane of the Pearl of Africa’.

Uganda Airlines is the flag carrier of Uganda. The company is a revival of the older Uganda Airlines that operated from 1977 until 2001. The new Uganda Airline began flying in August 2019 and has been adjudged the world’s youngest aircraft fleet by Ch-Aviation, an industry information collector and publisher based in the city of Chur, in Switzerland.

MMIA is going through transformation; however, the people’s behaviours are not changing. And I stand to be corrected or challenged. These workers have an entitled spirit of demanding money form passengers after every statutory action. They are hostile with intention of extorting money from passengers. These personnel and passengers are the storytellers; the government must design a new behavioural conversation with one goal to ensure the right service culture that will inspire the users of the service.

The story of Entebbe is amazingly inspiring from the behaviour of the personnel on ground. What is enabling the conversation and driving traffic to the pearl of Africa is the culture of excellence within the brand touch point. What is our culture at our touch points that will enable that conversation from Marketing Communications?

Once again, I call on the Ministry of Information and National Orientation; adding the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development; the Ministry of Art, Culture and the Creative Economy; and the Ministry of Tourism to create a meeting point for other government agencies to draw reference from the management of brand conversation from simple alignment of the reputation management of the nation.
Whilst the Ministry of Information and National Orientation is probably sending out information about the country, there are many more contents going out of the country (and inside the country) through the activities of employees at the airport (just one location), amongst many other points of contacts that are telling the stories to the publics at various levels. The behaviour of men and women in power is an endless story telling avenue.

My humble recommendation is that, now is the time for the Federal Government to set up a mandatory team for the country to start a behavioural change campaign with service offering standard across every organisation.

There should be a brand and reputation management department outside the Ministry of Information and National Orientation, or department of information that will bring other skills into one place to define service level that will impact on brand value. If Uganda could revive its airline within a couple of years, what could be the reason behind Nigeria “Airways” revival?

The case of what happened under the past Ministers of Aviation and the past leadership of the country is a pointer to the fact that we are not ready to face the ant or elephant and deal with the subject. What is happening also is that the nation we considered to be small in the past are making better efforts at rebuilding and rebranding than us.

Our president is very busy attending to the many troubles of the nation. However, as the Chief Brand Executive and Chief Marketing Officer of the Nigeria Company, he must spare time to hear the Uganda vs Nigeria Story.

Ekine is a reputation management expert. He e writes from Nairobi, Kenya

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