A South African marketing consultant, Mr. Brian Ebden, yesterday, rose in defence of Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, over the insinuation that he stole the concept of ‘Change Begins with Me’, which was launched Thursday by President Muhammadu Buhari, describing the claim as nothing but sheer lies and blackmail. The Lagos-based consultant explained that Mohammed had hinted him of his intension to launch the initiative since October 2015 soon after he was appointed minister by the president.
Ebden’s clarification followed an accusation by the CEO of Bufferzone Ltd, Mr. Akin Fadeyi, saying that the minister plagiarised a project known as ‘Not in My Country’ to come up with the ‘Change Begins With Me’ campaign.
But the consultant insisted that he and Centrespread Advertising developed the communications campaign and strategy after an in-depth briefing session with Mohammed, which led to his sending the strategy document to the minister via an email with the subject ‘Change Begins with Me’ written capital letters on October 10, 2015.
His words: “By 30th October of 2015, the entire 1st generation creative work was sent to Alhaji Lai Mohammed which included the first created logo, artwork, jingles and TVC concepts. A month later, both agencies attended a presentation session at Radio House in Abuja where two campaigns were presented to a contingent of more than 100 people of the Ministry of Information and Culture which included NTA, FRCN and NOA and again it was clearly and unambiguously stated that the campaign was “Change begins with me.” “Over the ensuing week, following this initial presentation, the Honourable Minister repeatedly mentioned the impending campaign by its name and it was duly reported in the media. Further still, on Sunday 24th January 2016 at the Southern Sun Hotel in Ikoyi, the Honourable Minister presented the campaign to all major artists and personalities who included King Sunny Ade, Pasuma, MI, Don Jazzy, P Square, Mo Abudu and many others,” the consultant added. A Facebook link provided by the consultant showed an array of photographic coverage of the meeting with the entertainers, allegedly uploaded same day.
Ebden wondered while there was no form of complaint or claim to the intellectual property from any quarters until the campaign was launched.
“Nothing was plagiarised because none of those making the ridiculous claim admitted meeting Alhaji Lai Mohammed on any proposal before he was nominated and sworn into office,” he said.
However, Mr. Emeka Oparah, a staunch Buhari’s supporter and avid Facebook user, insisted that it was copied from Fadeyi’s ‘Not in My Country.’
Oparah wrote on his Facebook timeline Thursday that he became aware of Mr Fadeyi’s project two years ago.
“The campaign resonated with me instantly, and I believe it was the same with several of those to whom he gave a privileged preview before he then went to town with it.
“I cannot understand why the FG would launch what, to me, is a xerox copy of Mr. Fadeyi’s “Not in My Country,” Oparah stated.