By Omotayo Ayanda
In a thought-provoking keynote address delivered at the Annual Press Week of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kwara State Council in Ilorin on Wednesday, Rafiu Ajakaye, the Chief Press Secretary to Kwara State Governor, emphasized the pivotal role of the media in shaping Nigeria’s global perception and advocated for a balanced approach in reporting to enhance the country’s soft power.
Addressing a gathering of seasoned media professionals, Ajakaye highlighted the transformative influence wielded by the media in this era, encompassing conventional platforms and the array of digital mediums.
He underscored how these platforms disseminate messages within seconds, influencing opinions, and shaping perceptions both locally and internationally.
Ajakaye referenced the concept of soft power coined by Joseph Nye Jr. in the 1980s, defining it as a country’s ability to influence without coercion.
He expounded on the significance of soft power in contrast to brute force, emphasizing its role in achieving national interests on the global stage.
Drawing parallels to successful nation branding campaigns worldwide, including the Incredible India initiative, Ajakaye stressed the need for a collective effort to project Nigeria positively.
He urged media stakeholders to contribute to the nation’s branding, highlighting the critical impact of perception on economic prosperity, foreign investment, and societal treatment.
The CPS cautioned against incessantly spotlighting the negatives, advocating for a more balanced portrayal of Nigeria.
He pointed out disparities in the presentation of statistics and narratives between countries like Nigeria and the United States, illustrating the influence of media narratives on global perceptions.
While acknowledging the media’s role as society’s watchdog, Ajakaye urged for a conscious equilibrium between reporting developments and contributing to the nation’s positive image.
He appealed for a deliberate effort to filter out excessive negative profiling of Nigeria, emphasizing the responsibility to promote a favorable global image.
However, Ajakaye urged media practitioners, editors, and stakeholders to champion a narrative that aligns with Nigeria’s true potential and strengths.
He implored them to uphold a commitment to represent the country positively, stating that the names we give ourselves ultimately shape external perceptions.
The keynote address resonated with attendees, sparking discussions on the media’s role in nation-building and the significance of balanced reporting in enhancing Nigeria’s global image.