2014: STATE OF THE NATION BRAND

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Background…

cover story 1To ordinary Citizens, Nigeria is one nation. In the days when political campaigns were based on deep thought, rigorous philosophy and meaningful slogans (not intimidating boasts, insults and threats), Alhaji Shehu Sahgari actually had an apt slogan that said “One Nation; One Destiny”.

To Brand Owners, manufacturers and business men and women however, Nigeria is one market; albeit with several zones. It would surprise many geographers and ordinary folk that the states that make up Eastern or Western Zone for a lot of businesses are not necessarily the same that are presented in our political map. Be that as it may. It is still “One Nigeria; One Market”.

When President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan therefore launched his “Transformation Agenda” on being sworn in on May 29, 2011 brand owners and the business community, naturally believed that it meant the Nigerian business environment will be transformed for the better. 2014 is the last full year of President Jonathan’s official first term. At the states level, many governors are in the twilight of their second terms. Not a few governors have some transformational results in their score-card as they make a last ditch effort to write their names in gold in the history of their states. But how well have they transformed their markets for investments and prosperity to flow?

In this edition BRANDPOWER magazine scans the Nigerian political and economic environment of 2013 to see how the results of political developments, economic programmes and actions (and inactions) of government at various levels have impacted the positive (or negative) transformation of the Nigeria and what it portends for this promising nation brand in 2014.

Politics as pointer to the economy…

It was a sunny Thursday an September 27, 2013 on the floor of the Nigerian Senate in Abuja but the mood of the hallowed chambers was not so sunny as Senators from across the divide  took turns to bemoan the state of the Nigerian state as preparations were being finalized for the celebration of the 53rd Independence anniversary. The esteemed senators resonated the sadness of the average Nigerian that there was not much to celebrate about Nigeria unlike other peer nations that gained independence at about the same period.

At the end of what turned out to be a lamentation session of Brand Nigeria our arrested development was generally blamed on parochialism, narrow, selfish interests and rudderless leadership. Anyone who listened to the Senators would not believe that they have over-sight functions over most of the things they were complaining about. The Senators lamented the sorry state of electricity, ethno-religious crises, security challenges, youth unemployment and so on. They therefore urged government at all levels to take the business of governance more seriously.

But the Senate President, David Mark gave an apt riposte when he said “All of us here are leaders. At every level we have Nigerians who are leaders. So, we must begin to look inwards and search our minds now so that we can make progress. “We want a nation where truth and justice shall reign.“And once we have this as our cardinal point, I think every other thing shall follow,” the Senate President noted. Not surprisingly, 2013 witnessed some fast changing political dynamics, in Nigeria with the formation and continuous rise of APC, the factionalisation of NGF and the bitter rivalry of political gladiators.

One of the greatest changing dynamics of 2013 is no doubt the emergence of the All Progressives Congress (APC). For the first time in the politics of Nigeria parties and personalities of diverse, even conflicting, backgrounds have come together to bond as a party with the sole purpose of wrestlng power from the ruling party the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The PDP is undoubtedly shaken. Its fate made worse by the implosion within the party when Bamanga Tukur held sway as party Chairman but cynics of the APC have been wondering aloud “For how long will the APC magic last”? Definitely 2014 will be interesting times for Nigerian Politics

So, Is Nigeria Going Broke?

There was palpable concern among the federating states when for several months in 2013; the usual monthly disbursements were either serially delayed or when it was received fell far short of the states’ expectations. Reacting to this troubling development, the governor Rotimi Amaechi led faction of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum declared “One manifestation of this (being broke) is the Federal Government’s inability to pay states their share of the federal allocation since July. The last time states were paid was for part of July.

“The arrears continue to mount by the day. As at today, the states are being owed N336 billion, with the N75 billion being the balance of the July 2013 arrears, N121 billion from June augmentation and over N90 billion as July augmentation. “The implication of this unfortunate development is that the 36 states have become impoverished and unable to meet up with basic obligations, including the payment of workers’ monthly salaries, which many of the states have been unable to do due to lack of funds. Most states have also as a result been unable to meet their obligations to contractors.”

The above scenario indeed pervaded the 2013 calendar year. A nation that cannot protect and account for its earnings and cannot meet its financial obligations to its various stakeholders is generally believed to be bankrupt but for most of 2013, the Minister of Finance and supervising Minister for the economy insisted that Nigeria was not broke. Rather she continued to lament the challenges of liquidity to the wanton theft of Nigeria’s crude oil on a scale hitherto unimagined.

But the splinter group of the Peoples Democratic Party aka the New PDP did not share the minister’s sentiments according to the group “The truth is that Nigeria is broke and worse days are ahead under this inept and visionless administration,” “Despite claims to the contrary by the administration in a futile bid to deceive Nigerians, the overwhelming evidence is that the Nigerian economy has been run aground by the present administration and is now comatose.

“With the massive scale of officially-induced oil theft, the dwindling returns from oil and massive looting going on at the federal level, Nigeria is surely on the brink of economic collapse.” The New PDP went on to counsel Nigerians to prepare for the worst if the Jonathan Presidency is allowed to continue.

The truth about the real and perceived problems of the Nigerian Nation Brand in 2013 is underscored by the hodge podge of the good, the bad and the ugly that were recorded. Each achievement and under-achievement serves as a signpost of the latent outcome of the shape of things to come in 2014. We shall now take a look at 3 sectors.

A Bruising Business and  Economic Terrain…

Obviously, there are grave implications for the Nigerian economy if our politics is not right; if the right political decisions and actions are not being made. As far as the Goodluck administration is concerned, Nigeria’s economy is on an even keel. Economic indices are all looking up… GDP, GDI, FDI and so on however, the reality with average Nigerians and businesses is that 2013 was tough and grim. Power remained a major challenge, multiple taxation tasked businesses and arbitrary policies and actions at all levels of government made proper strategic planning almost impossible.

When the International Finance Corporation (IFC) an arm of the World Bank ranked Nigeria  147th out of 189 countries surveyed in the doing business index, President  Goodluck Jonathan reacted vehemently that the report was not correct and that the assessment was in bad faith because Nigeria’s business climate remains one of the best in the world as can be seen in the foreign direct investments (FDIs) that she attracts. What he however failed to realize is that IFC is not alone on that position, as the saying goes “the world cannot be wrong”. The Nigerian business climate is very inclement and only the very tough, the very ‘connected’ and very lucky can survive. No other sector illustrates this better than the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) telecom operators most of most of whom have closed shop due to the challenges of accessing credits to finance their operations.

Interest rates from Nigerian banks and finance houses are still perhaps the highest in the world. The smart (and big entrepreneurs) are now going for cheaper single-digit offshore loans. This scenario also makes Nigerian companies uncompetitive as players in the same industry from other countries have easy access to cheap cash while they (Nigerian companies) struggle to receive expensive attention from Nigerian banks. By implication this also makes Nigerian brands uncompetitive in terms of pricing.

The dire security situation in the North East part of the country has crippled the productive industry. Tomatoes, groundnuts, sugar cane, millet and other grains which used be amply cultivated in that belt have become scarce commodities as the citizens in those areas have either fled their domains or avoid their farms for fear of Boko Haram. This has given rise to a heavy dependence on imported raw materials, from tomato concentrate to fruits, molasses from sugar cane and even ground-nut oil. To worsen the situation, local manufactures apart from being saddled with paying exorbitant rates for their raw materials due to our depreciating Naira also have to contend with smuggled and low-priced alternatives to their products. While this puts the Nigerian manufacturer under undue pressure, it denies the Nigerian consumer the benefit of enjoying truly home grown products at affordable rates. Of course, the attendant loss of employment opportunity is also colossal.

The Centre for International and Private Enterprises (CIPE) in a forum organised for business operators in Lagos in October 2013 put it aptly when they said ‘the situation is becoming almost unbearable’. According to Success Nwogu, an official of CIPE “Currently, many small businesses use up to six generators. When embarking on huge production line, they use giant generators, which use diesel with very high costs. The operators also complain of market challenges and security problems. All of that is really adding up to business costs and there are barriers in the market, adding to their challenges,”

Nevertheless the big Nigerian manufacturers continued to dominate the market with various brands to satisfy teeming consumers and investors in 2013. Being an election year it is expected that political leaders at all levels will do the needful to stimulate and encourage local enterprise and investments in 2014.

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THE ENTERTAINMENT SECTOR

2013: A Rewarding Year for Nigerian Entertainment Brand

The Nigerian entertainment brand continues to contribute significantly to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product in recent years with 2013 being no exception. Apart from reality TV shows, awards, musical concerts, last year was rewarding for majority of established artistes in the Nigerian music world, while new talents also made the limelight. The year was full of endorsement contracts for music and acting  talents; with close to a billion Naira spent, brands made ambassadors out of many A-list artistes.

Brands now believe that associating with popular faces is the easiest way to sell their products and build brand affinity. With entertainment especially music being one of the biggest attractions in Nigeria, musicians got more deals than the actors and actresses. The biggest spenders have remained the telecom companies with acts like Psquare, Tiwa Savage, Iyanya, Davido and Wizkid as top beneficiaries.

Nigerian telecoms giant MTN renewed the endorsement deal it had with Davido while other artistes like Chidinma, Praize, Iyanya and Mike Anyaso were also signed on as MTN ambassadors. It was also a breakthrough year for Kcee, as the Limpopo crooner launched his album and was also rewarded with a bumper deal by MTN.

For Wizkid and Tiwa Savage it was double portion, as their deals with Pepsi were extended. Tiwa got signed up by MTN while Wizkid together with Olamide and Davido got Guinness ambassadorial deals.  Flavor, Omawunmi, Psquare, MI, Neto C, Waje and a host of others were also signed up by Glo. Tiwa also caped her successful year with the release of her first album “Once Upon A Time” and also got married to her manager Tee Billz.

While Davido will be remembered for inventing his brand of “Skelewu” dance in 2013, indigenous rapper Olamide also entered the history books as one of two Nigerian rappers to release two full albums in one year (the other being Eedris Abdulkareem). His third album, “Baddest Guy Ever Liveth” comes almost a year after his highly successful second album YBNL. Being an indigenous rapper, Olamide has managed to make himself the hottest rapper in a country with so many ethnic groups.

Buoyed by the enlightenment of their widely publicized COSON Week, 2013 was also quite revolutionary on the copyright front, as artistes became more active in their fight against piracy. Several artistes now get money from online downloads of their songs while broadcast stations have also been mandated to pay royalties to artistes whose songs were played on their stations.

The success of 2013 was not only enjoyed by the musicians, as there were noteable achievements in the movie industry as well. Last year, Omotola Jolade became the first Nigerian to ever own a reality television show, “Omotola: The Real Me” which debuted on DSTV. She was featured in TIME’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2013 and crowned her year of accolades with a chieftaincy title given by Ondo State, her home state.

Mercy Johnson also won the award for ‘Best Actress’ at the recent Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards following her role as Dumebi in the movie ‘Dumebi The Dirty Girl’. The sexy Nollywood actress has also proved her acting prowess by interpreting all kinds of roles perfectly even while she was heavily pregnant.

Nigerian comedians also made 2013 a remarkable year. They hosted, organised and graced shows, concerts, events, parties. Names like Basket Mouth, Gbenga Adeyinka, I Go Dye, Bovi, Seyi Law, Julius Agwu, AY, Tee A and other are commanding 6 to 7 -digit appearance fees and hosting their sellout shows. A well-planned public event is not complete without the presence of any of these comedians. As one of the fastest-rising comedians in Nigeria, Bovi Ugboma had a firm grip of the comedy industry last year. The Comedian hosted many of the biggest events/shows in Lagos and creating some of the funniest skits we saw on YouTube.

The entertainment and excitement provided by the state carnivals cannot be overlooked. State carnivals provide exciting blend of rich culture, fun and adventure. They are annual events organised to promote Nigeria’s cultural heritage in local costumes as well as a ground for social interaction.

Calabar Festival is the biggest and longest multi-dimensional, multi-faceted tourism leisure and entertainment programme in West Africa. The 2013 edition had SeaGull Band, Bayside Band, Freedom Band, Masta Blasta Band, Passion-4 and Nollywood Band on display. Senator Ita-Giwa led the Seagull band. Nollywood actress, Tonto Dikeh, Florence Ita-Giwa, Uti Nwachukwu, Funke Akindele were spotted at the Carnival.

Another brand of entertainment was also launched in Lagos in 2013. Nigerians are used to watching New Year countdown of the likes of Times Square, Melbourne, New York and Trafalgar Square, London, Tokyo, but Lagosians were treated to the Nigerian version as Lagos held its first countdown party.  It was a night of dizzying lights music, fireworks, pyrotechnics and lighting effects to signify the commencement of the New Year.

The party, which took place on some portions of the newly-reclaimed Eko Atlantic City and Bar Beach, was put together by LASAA. According to the agency, the event was conceived to create an end of year crossover tradition that would engage citizens of the state and visitors throughout the end of year holiday season.

Notable music brands such as Tuface, Banky W, Skales, Tiwa Savage, D’Prince, Ice Prince, Burna Boy, Inyanya, Omawumi, Durella, JJC, Darey, Davido, W4, Eva, Solid Star, Olamide, Ozzy among others ensured a fun filled event.

Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos was not left out as he came to have fun. So, also were top government functionaries such as the Lagos State Head of Service, Mr. Adesegun Ogunlewe and the Executive Secretary, Lagos State Security Trust Fund, Mr. Fola Arthur-Worrey.

Nigerian entertainment industry was a huge success in 2013. The signs are really good for the industry with Nigerian celebrities soon ranking among the richest men in Africa, 2014 sure looks bright.

BRIGHT PROSPECT FOR BRAND NIGERIA’S SPORTS IN 2014

cover story 3   Beyond all expectations, 2013 turned out to be a successful year for brand Nigeria’s sports, most notably football. The senior national team brand, Super Eagles unexpectedly reclaimed its lost glory in Africa, with crucial contribution from a local player brand, Sunday Mba, whose exploits helped make a good claim for inclusion of more local players in the Eagles. The Eagles also crowned the year by qualifying for their fifth World Cup appearance.

   Nigeria broke another jinx, this time around in African Nations Championship (CHAN), sealing a historic qualification to feature in the tournament billed for South Africa the first time since its inception in 2009. Nigeria defeated Cote d’Ivoire 4-2 on aggregate to berth a place for the championship designed purposely for home-based players who of course ply their football trade in the local leagues.

cover story 4   The Eaglets crowned a memorable year for brand Nigeria’s football with a glorious outing at the U17 World Cup in the UAE, making Nigeria the first country to win the trophy four times. The Manu Garba-trained lads did not only win the trophy but also broke the goal scoring record of the tournament combined with a display of football artistry the world would remember for a long time to come.

   In-between the success of the national teams was the notable improvement of the local football brand. The Glo Premier league witnessed an interesting finale, with the champion being crowned on the last day of the season. The league which had the highest prize money ever will also go down in history as being hitch free compared to the era of (boardroom points).  The League Management Company, LMC, was also able to broker a TV rights sponsorship deal for the Nigerian Professional Football League, NPFL. The deal, which runs from 2015-2019, is worth N1.4 billion and is the highest TV rights money to be attracted in Nigerian football.

Football is the favourite brand of sport in Nigeria, but the nation also recorded some success in the other sports in 2013. The Athletics Federation made the nation proud in different categories.

cover story 5Nigeria won the inaugural Africa Youth Athletics Championship held in Delta state in March. The athletics contingent that represented the nation in Mauritius in September won the African Junior Athletics. The achievement of Blessing Okagbare also brought joy to Nigeria in 2013. She recorded two medals for the country at the IAAF World Championship held in Russia; cancelling out the plague of 14year disappointment of not winning a medal at the IAAF World Championship game. The Nigerian cricket team, for the first time since independence, made it to the highest cricket league in Africa -league five.

   Overall, brand Nigeria’s sport sector brought smiles to the faces of Nigerians in the last 12 months. The progress and resurgence in the sporting sector has raised the hopes of an average Nigerian sport fan and 2014 promises loads of memorable sporting moments for brand Nigeria. The sport sector is obviously upbeat as the nation looks forward to more conquering feats in the sporting events of the coming months; starting with the home based Eagles participation at the ongoing CHAN in South Africa.

The most eagerly awaited sport event will be the World Cup where the Super Eagles brand would be out to further endear itself in the heart of football loving Nigerians. In what promises to the most competitive World Cup ever, the Eagles would have to first of all navigate their way out of a seemingly easy group F comprising of Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran. Using their achievements in the last 12 months as a springboard, the Eagles would be looking to better their previous records at the tournament by getting beyond the second round.

To ensure the Eagles soar in Brazil, this is what the Sport Minister had to say: “We are not going to wait till the approval of the country’s budget before we begin to source funds to prepare the Super Eagles and all our teams going out to represent Nigeria in global competition in 2014. That will not be acceptable. We are going to look for money to prepare very well. We have all seen the result of good preparations and planning in 2013. Nothing short of this in the New Year.”

Having failed in the bid to host the commonwealth games in commemoration of brand Nigeria’s centenary, the country’s athletes can provide a huge compensation with a wonderful outing at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. Nigeria will be participating in six events namely: Boxing, Athletics, Weight-lifting, Para-athletics, Taekwondo and Shooting in both Male and Female categories, at the event scheduled to take place between July 23 and August 23.

Receiving the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games torch in Abuja used the occasion to challenge Nigeria’s athletes to try and surpass the nation’s previous records at the games. “As you probably are aware, Nigeria, a committed member of the Commonwealth has participated in all but four of the Commonwealth Games since 1950 even before our independence as a nation in 1960. We have won medals in all the games we have participated in.

cover story 6   Our first gold medal was won in the high jump at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games as it was then called in Vancouver, Canada in 1954. Our most memorable outing was the 1994 and 2010 games in Victoria, Canada and Delhi, India, where we won eleven gold medals respectively” he said.

   This year also has a bright prospect for Table tennis and wrestling federation of Nigeria. Both sports are witnessing revival after years of being ran aground. Atlanta Olympic bronze medalist, Nosiru Sule, would be representing Nigeria at the 2014 World Para Table Tennis Championships holding in Beijing, China, while Daniel Igali’s wealth of experience should come to bear on wrestling, as the former world and Olympic champion, looks forward to making an impact in Glasgow.

2014 holds so much promise for Nigerian sports, it is however left to various Sport administrators to ensure the success of 2013 is used as a springboard for extraordinary sporting achievements for brand Nigeria in 2014. So for Nigerian Sports brand, if year 2013 was good, 2014 should be better!

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