I'm certain that if we were to answer the question; "what is wrong with Nigeria?", we will likely say bad governance, poor leadership, corruption, insecurity, et al.
Somehow it always seems to skip our attention that while these might be true, these are all "things" and things don't just happen, people make things happen. Who are people? They're not aliens, nor a special breed carted into our geography on a magical aircraft. People are us. We are the problem.
This isn't news but I'm led to write this because of an incident that occurred yesterday. Yesterday I attended a Brand Masterclass hosted by The BBC company at Radisson Blu. The class which was slated to last from 8am to 3pm cost N40,000 and was convened by Mrs T.A Aluko. The panelists included Tokini Peterside; Founder of Art X Lagos and Director at TP Collective, Omojuwa, Charles O'Tudor; Brand Strategist, Engagement Specialist and Global Innovator, Joycee Awosika; CEO of Oríkì and Ngozi Princewill-Utchay; CEO of Artelier Lifestyle.
Over all it was a good class. Good, because most of these supposed masterclasses tend to be vague and often loose the plot. Some brand classes confuse themselves and their students by teaching more about entrepreneurship (read motivation) and little or nothing about branding. But this class was very centralized. T.A Aluko, a passionate, accomplished and brilliant young woman who clearly knows her onions, began by ensuring that we understood that Branding and PR are two entirely different things and we were there to study Branding. The theme was Corporate Branding vs Personal Branding and the debate was a very lively one. We also did a case study of two very similar yet very distinct brands & brand owners; House of Tara (Tara Fela Durotoye) vs BM Pro (Banke Meshida). Of course other brand-names like Aliko Dangote, Richard Branson were also great cases cited for the Corporate Brand, and you know we cannot discuss personal branding without talking about Kim Kardashian and in Nigeria, Toke Makinwa. Great lessons were taught on how great brands came to be what they are, the fundamentals, the do-not's and so forth. So very frankly, I would recommend The BBC Company for start-ups and other businesses that require a serious branding company.
What however rubbed me the wrong way was the casualness with which we were informed that Charles O'Tudor would not be attending the class. I already knew that he wouldn't as we'd spoken earlier that morning and he needed urgently to attend to an emergency that to would render him indisposed for most of the day. However, the rest of the class, paying participants, were not privy to this information. Some of these participants might have attended simply to hear the Brand Strategust himself speak.
Halfway into the class we were informed, in a manner akin to an afterthought "Oh, Mr Charles O'Tudor can't make it. Well, moving forward..."
I'm thinking; what sort of fuckery is this?
It was just like the 2016 Do It Afraid Conference where Banky W had been hailed as one of the speakers, and that name alone on the conference flyer was certain to attract its own traffic. At the conference we were informed that Banky couldn't make it and in place of that we were played a brief video of Banky at an airport somewhere, telling us he wished he was with us la di da.
I immediately wanted to ask for my money back.
So why didn't I?
We as Nigerians have come to accept mediocrity as a way of life. Anything goes is the order of the day. Excellence, on the rare occasion that it rares it's head, is a very unexpected surprise.
When I was doing my Event Management course in Nairobi, one question our tutors often asked was; "what happens when you produce an entertainment or corporate event and on the day of the event, a guest speaker or performer doesn't show up for one reason or the other? How do you handle it? What do you tell your guests? How do you compensate your guests? How do you contain the situation?"
These questions were asked with an undertone of trepidation and extreme seriousness as this situation could be potentially catastrophic. Well, that's in climes where there are consequences, where people are held accountable, delivery is expected and standards must be met.
The problem with us is us.
Yesterday nobody reacted to the news that one of the speakers couldn't make it, it was as though such news was already expected. And at a paid event!
Until we each begin to do better, expect better and demand better from EACH OTHER, I dare say we would remain a bunch of wailers; taking to social media to whine about this and that while not making any actual moves to change things.
At this point I shamefully have to agree with APC's remixed mantra; Change Begins With Me. Because seriously people, things desperately need to change. Ergo so must we.