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Chicken republic is better than ethnic republic!

The last I read, one of the groups claims that if created its republic will have a population of 50 million people. Why do you want a population of 50 million when you already have 180 million?

I am amused by the calls for this or that republic. It’s even more disheartening that some of these calls are coming from youth groups. If you understand brands and branding, you will understand that in a free enterprise economy of 180 million people, it makes no sense to your future and aspirations to ask for different republics. The last I read, one of the groups claims that if created its republic will have a population of 50 million people. Why do you want a population of 50 million when you already have 180 million? If I launch a new product today, I immediately have a market of 180 million people. And you know what? In spite of the corruption and ineptitude of our leaders, I am not aware that they have stopped any youth from creating new products for the Nigerian market.

I spent my youth under the leadership of Shagari, Buhari, Babangida, Sonekan, Abacha, Abdulsalami. These guys were not popular. We hated their leadership. But they didn’t stop Leo Stan Ekeh, Aliko Dangote and Mike Adenuga from pursuing their dreams and building multi billion naira brands. They also didn’t stop me from pursuing my dream. You can choose to sit and blame the government, or stand up and chase your dream. Under these ‘failed republic’, WizKid, 2Baba, PSquare and Olamide have built themselves into global brands. In so doing, they tapped into the cultural nuances that make us uniquely Naija, to give their brands the uniqueness required to stand out on the global stage. Space will not let me go into greater detail regarding the many youths who are realizing their dreams based on the sheer size and diversity of this country. This never happens by luck. It takes a lot of hard work and a determination to chase your dream. You may have the natural talent, but without hard work and discipline, your talent comes to naught.

You may ask yourself why MTN makes more money in Nigeria than in their home country South Africa. The answer is obvious. Our population is more than three times that of South Africa. The same goes for Multichoice. In the noodles market, Indomie is the biggest noodle brand in Africa. Why is this so? The answer again is clear. We have 180 million people and one of the highest per capita consumers of instant noodles after Southeast Asia and China. We should be blaming our leaders for ceding Bakassi to Cameroon instead of asking for smaller republics!

Chicken Republic commenced business in 2004 and is today the fastest growing Quick Service Restaurant brand in West Africa with 65 outlets spread across Nigeria and Ghana. The brand has national spread, with outlets across the North, East, West and South of Nigeria. Chicken Republic’s success lies in its clearly defined brand strategy and unique taste. According to the brand, Chicken Republic prides itself on the consistent delivery of product excellence, great value and impeccable customer service. All brought to life by warmly engaging with our customers in energetic, progressive, quick service restaurant environments. Chicken Republic promises “the sensory pleasures of… sizzling hot chicken and sides, all flavoured to perfection with our unique blend of authentic West African herbs and spices”. The visionary founder of Chicken Republic, Deji Akinyanju, may be media shy and self-effacing, but he is nevertheless an inspiration to the younger generation. This is the kind of republic our youths should be dreaming of. And regardless of whether the nation restructures or not, you can achieve your dream.

This is not to suggest that our youths should shun politics or become docile. It is actually a call to action. It is a call to take our country back from the kidnappers in Abuja and the various state government houses who have held us hostage and slowed down our development as a nation. They are the ones who should be getting the quit notice. And when you think of it, quit notices are a part of democracy. That’s why we have 4-Year terms and the provision for impeachment. There is a quit notice right from the day you assume power. But for your tenancy to be extended you must perform as expected or even beyond expectations. The constitution provides for us as Nigerians to aspire and become whatever we dream of becoming. So, instead of asking for different republics we must take our country back!

I was happy to see the students of Tai Solarin University of Education harass the state governor over the deplorable state of facilities in the school. This is the kind of agitation we need to see. Unfortunately, youth agitation is almost non-existent in this country. This I find most surprising. What happened to the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS? During the good old days, we would march out of our campus and confront mobile policemen anytime we had good reason to protest. What it meant was that even military regimes had to respect the wishes of students and the people. One of the most popular protests in the country was the “Ali Must Go” protest. When university students were asked to pay 50kobo extra per day, for their heavily subsidized meals, it led to a national crisis, with students demanding the resignation of the Education Minister, Ahmadu Ali. In contrast, we hear of ministers and governors embezzling billions of naira these days, and nothing happens. Student bodies are not asking for resignations and dismissals. In our days, student riots were a regular occurrence, even under military rule. Today, we have democracy, yet we allow irresponsible leaders get away with unpardonable crimes against the people.

Sectional agitation is myopic. Let us agitate to wrest our country from the grip of corrupt and irresponsible leadership. And this will always be a continuous process. Because even in the advanced countries, no leadership enjoys 100% support. In the United States, a leader is doing pretty well if he has 55% approval rating. So do not let the ignorant deceive you. Don’t waste your youth agitating for a tiny republic. Rather, build your brand and take advantage of Africa’s largest market! When you chase your dream, it doesn’t matter who is President. And when you think branding, a market of 180 million people is infinitely more profitable than a market of 50 million people. I would rather have a Chicken Republic than an Ethnic Republic.

• Muyiwa Kayode is CEO at USP Brand Management and author of The Seven Dimensions of Branding



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