The Print Media and Image Rebranding in Nigeria’s Foreign Policy (1999-2014)
The study identified Nigeria’s image problems in foreign policy between 1999 and 2014; investigated the efforts made at addressing these image problems; examined the print media’s role in rebranding Nigeria’s image; and finally evaluated the factors that militated against the print media’s contribution in the rebranding efforts. These were with the view to understanding the roles of the media (print media) in image rebranding in the context of Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives. The study utilised both primary and secondary data. Primary data were sourced through the conduct of in-depth interviews with scholars, staff and officials from different academic institutions; print media organizations; and federal government ministries and agencies. Thirteen respondents were interviewed. The 13 respondents were interviewed based on their knowledge in the area of the media, image rebranding and Nigeria’s foreign policy. Four scholars who are experts in Nigeria’s foreign policy and the media were interviewed, two each from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and University of Lagos, Akoka. In addition, one senior research fellow from the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos was interviewed. The choice of these institutions was informed by the fact that they have conducted vast research in the area of Nigeria’s foreign policy. Also two senior officers from the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Abuja and one senior officer, each from the Ministries of Information and Foreign Affairs, Abuja who played pioneering roles in past image rebranding initiatives/efforts were interviewed. Furthermore, four foreign news editors, each from the Nation Newspaper, Lagos; the Punch Newspaper, Lagos; Leadership Newspaper, Abuja and Guardian Newspaper, Lagos were interviewed. Secondary data were sourced from textbooks, journals, newspapers, reports and lecture series. Data collected were analysed using descriptive method of analysis. The finding showed 92% of the respondents agreed that Nigeria had one form of image problem or the other between 1999 and 2014. The result also revealed that internal factors such as; corruption, insecurity, human rights violation, trans-border crimes and non-observance of democratic ethos were responsible for the Nigeria’s image problem, as it made all efforts to rebrand its image a mere nomenclature. This was attested to by 85% of the respondents. The result further revealed that efforts/initiatives like the “Nigeria Image Project”; “Heart of Africa Project”; and “Rebranding Nigeria Project” launched by past administrations to address the Nigeria’s image problems between 1999 and 2014 were misplacement of priorities which at best was an effort to ‘market a bad product’. Finally, the study showed that the print media were not properly involved in past image rebranding efforts/initiatives between 1999 and 2014 as attested to by 62% of the respondents. Hence, it militated against the print media’s contribution to rebranding the Nigeria’s image. The study concluded that attempts at incorporating image rebranding in Nigeria’s foreign policy between 1999 and 2014 failed to yield significant results largely because the government neglected the influential role of the print media.