Akinyemi: Nigeria Has No Clear-cut Communications Strategy


Kayode Akinyemi, a former head of Corporate Communications at Skye Bank Plc, is an accomplished and versatile strategic communications practitioner. He spoke to Raheem Akingbolu on the need for the federal government to involve professionals in communicating its programmes

Where do you think Nigeria practitioners stand in the global evolving marketing communication landscape?

I think our practitioner have done well and as still doing very well. Without missing words, our practitioners can compete favourably with their contemporaries all over the world. They have continued to follow the global trends using technology to redefine operations in the industries. With hi-tech and social media, the world is moving at a very vast pace and Nigeria practitioners are getting abreast of this. In Advertising, PR, Marketing Communication and Journalism, Nigerian practitioners have raised the bar. However, this has also created some challenges as a lot are been churned out without proper regulation and self- censorship. I think there is need for caution in this regard.

If you are to advise the spin doctors managing the Nigerian brand how to position the country, what will you tell them?

In the first place, I don’t think we have people managing Nigeria brand as at today. What we have is information management team. i.e. the Ministry of Information and the office of special adviser on media and publicity, both serving as information managers for the country and Mr. President.
It is my considered opinion therefore, for the governments to recruit Marketing/Brand management agencies to work with the existing structure to project the image of Nigeria positively to Nigerians and the outside world. I believe you will agree with me that we have more than a enough competent agencies and professionals that can handle this assignment especially in this period when the country is faced with insurgency, herdmen killings, kidnapping and all sort of unrest which as expose the country’s image to questioning.

Do you also share the belief in some quarters that Government and its agencies don’t appreciate marketing communications practitioners the way they should and that things would have been better if communications expert are involved in the projection of the country?

Of course, we all know the truth; government attitude towards engaging professionals in managing marketing communication have not been encouraging. To answer the last part of the question, let’s look around at how many brands and companies practitioners from this country have nurtured to greater heights. Nigeria is blessed with competent marketing communications expert that can compete favourably with their counterpart abroad. I believe therefore that if Nigeria government explores the marketing communications practitioners we have in the country, they will give necessary advice that will better position us as a nation.

In recent time, you seem to be showing interest in the affairs of your state – Ekiti, what informed that? Or is it because of the appointment you had in Fayemi’s government?

You are right about my interest in the affairs of my state but let me quickly add that it is not because of the appointment I had in Fayemi’s government. I have always had the interest of my State at heart. Knowing well that Ekiti is one of the poorest States in the country, I feel bad anytime I see the level of poverty in the State. As a result of this, I believe all Ekiti sons and daughters both at home and in diaspora need to come together to rebuild, recreate and turn it to one of the most buoyant economic States in Nigeria. We have a lot going for us in the area of Agriculture and human resources. We have expansive land and good climate system that can help us to grow Agriculture and attract industrialisation.

As you and I know, Ekiti is endowed with the lot of professors and professionals in difference areas of callings. These Ekiti professionals have been useful in building organizations in both private and public sectors of foreign economics. My thinking is that we should encourage these professionals to come back home, join hands and harness opportunities together to build Ekiti of the future. Unfortunately, the way politics is played here is appalling as it is characterised by money inducement and all sort of unpleasant experiences. I think we should be cerebra and have the interest of our people at heart with the determination to serve. To me, if we have worked in corporate environment and other organisations and did very well, we should be able to take the experience back home to develop our land.

What have you been doing in recent time, especially after your appointment by Dr. Fayemi in Ekiti State?

I basically returned to my primary constituency which of courses is public relations and media management.
As you know after serving as Head of Corporate Communications at Skye Bank, I had a stint as the official representative of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for Nigeria before the appointment by the former Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi as Director General of the then newly created Bureau of Strategic Communications in the State. With the appointment, I was driving strategy for the state and the government. After the loss of the election on June 21, 2014, I came back to Lagos to continue with what I know how to do best, which is of course is Public Relations and Brand/Media Management. Between then and now, I have served as consultant in the area of media and public relations to some financial institutions and in other industries as well.