Few days after the launch of the CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME CAMAPIAGN by President Muhammadu Buhari, some young Nigerians who felt the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed plagiarized their concept came out in the open to make damaging allegations over the incident .
In his response, the Minister denied the allegations ,he went a step further by issuing a seven day ultimatum to the young men ,Omor Bazuaye and Akin Fadeyi through his lawyers to retrieve the allegations and tender a an apology to him, else he will seek a redress through the court.
The incident has taken a new turn as one of them , Omo Bazuaye,a journalist has asked the Minister to go ahead with his threat. According to him,he does not owe the minister any apology, claiming that all allegations made against the minister can be substantiated.
Here is his reply:
“My attention has been drawn to a threat from the Honourable Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed instructing his lawyers to seek legal action against me if I refuse to retract a publication that his "Change Begins With Me" is a plagiarized version of Mr. Akin Fadeyi’s drama skits of NOT IN MY COUNTRY.
I’m sorry I do not have any apologies to tender, rather I wish to restate my earlier position and put everything in a broader perspective.
First and foremost,I'm a Journalist of high professional repute and capacity; trained home and abroad.
All my life and career, I’ve been committed to fighting social ills, including acts of corruption.
That was why I could not resist admiring Akin Fadeyi’s grassroots Anti-corruption campaign project which he self funded as a citizen-led initiative.
As a Journalist therefore, I did not need Mr. Akin Fadeyi's prompting or consent to do such job of releasing my statement of you plagiarising his drama concept which you fused into your CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME CAMPAIGN.
By the way and for the avoidance of doubt, I accused you of plagiarizing Akin Fadeyi's NOT IN MY COUNTRY drama skits and used them as your CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME campaign project. Safe for Media sensation, I did not accuse you of plagiarizing CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME.
(2)Having said that, I was part of the team that shot the first episode of Not In My Country in the University of Lagos campus premises, Faculty of Law in 2007.
I cannot watch you plagiarise same concept and hoodwink the Presidency into believing it was your idea.
I am also aware that Mr. Akin Fadeyi has been taking his national orientation project, "Not In My Country" to various organisations since 2008, which includes ICPC.
I repeat that I personally took Mr. Fadeyi to the SSA Media to the President, Mr. Garba Shehu to show him NOT IN MY COUNTRY as soon as this government came into being and that was before October you are laying claim to.
I am also aware Mr. Fadeyi led his Team of Actors and actresses to present NOT IN MY COUNTRY to the SSA, Political Matters to the President, Senator Babafemi Ojudu after the launching of the project and this visit was all over the papers.
I am aware that the Mr. Fadeyi's NOT IN MY COUNTRY national orientation campaign JUDICIARY VIDEO SKIT was shown to the guests and audience of Mr.Yusuf Alli, SAN at his book launch, "Anatomy of Corruption" at the Ladi Kwali Hall, Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Abuja on May 17 this year with the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibajo in attendance.
Hon. Minister, I did not see your own CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME Drama skit anywhere till September 8 this year when you presented a replica of NOT IN MY COUNTRY already shared with you since last December to Nigerians as CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME campaign.
(3) I am privy to the fact that Mr. Akin Fadeyi met with you and presented his DRAMA CONCEPT to you and that time you did not reject them, you infact asked that they should inject your CHANGE campaign into their original NOT IN MY COUNTRY concept as a condition for you to partner with them. Apparently, they had no inkling that having watched their idea and listened to their strategy, you already had other plans to adopt their project without recourse to them. And after they went through all the trouble and mailed them to you as you instructed, you abandoned them and launched same drama concept idea as your CHANGE campaign several months after.
This places a huge burden of proof on your conscience no matter how hard you try to deny.
AFTER YOU LISTENED TO THEIR PROJECT and TOOK THEIR IDEAS and stopped talking to them forthwith, I'm aware Mr. Fadeyi unrelentingly went ahead to produce his national orientation campaign with his personal funds and indeed launched it on the 3rd of May, 2016.
The Keynote speaker was Mr. Gbenga Adefaye, EDITOR IN CHIEF of the Vanguard Newspapers, Comedian, Gbenga Adeyinka, the First was at the launch, Simon Kolawole, respected Columnist was at the launch, Mr. Binga Shintema, an ICPC Senior Official, represented the ICPC.
The event was packed full of reputable Journalists and members of the public with many of them asking why you were conspicuously absent from the launch.
Would you, Honourable Minister deny not reading or hearing about the launch of NOT IN MY COUNTRY which was well publicized in major national dailies including columns in THISDAY and flagship TV programmes like FOCUS NIGERIA on AIT etc?
How come it is same drama concept that you launched as CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME Honourable Minister?
(5) Should you truly have "concluded all jingles and Commercials by October, 2015", why did you host Akin Fadeyi's Team in December? Why did you take their idea? Why did you tell them to go and reproduce and add your "change" to it as a pay-off line?
You couldn't have done all of these and still deny that you were not interested in their concept.
I find these and more rather curious.
Laughably, the Minister referred to Akin Fadeyi as an "incredible young man seeking shortcut to success". Honorable Minister, Akin Fadeyi who did not demand for a penny from you, and anyone who could fully fund a project of national campaign with such quality of production as we have seen on some TV stations and with such top rated artists could not be described in such derogatory terms.
(7) In this era where this government the Minister serves is sternly opposed to corruption and its related practices, his launch of a project dogged with the controversy of originality is a disservice to the President Mohammadu Buhari's stance against corruption.
His eagerness to intimidate us with state machinery at his disposal is also against every tenet of this administration that preaches orderliness, equality and guarantee of citizens rights.
As a matter of fact, the Minister's posturing is that of "I'm a Minister and can get away with impunity". President Buhari must not allow this to happen if he's truly "for everybody and for nobody".
(7) If anyone should sue or threaten to sue, it should be Akin Fadeyi, the owner of the NOT IN MY COUNTRY copyright whose drama concept found its way into the Minister's CHANGE campaign.
That is Fadeyi's 9 years sweat.
I'm shocked that even when Mr. Akin Fadeyi has maintained dignified silence and declined making comments on the matter, you (Minister) have continuously engaged in maligning our image and calling us names in the media and even threatened to sue.
As a seasoned technocrat; I do not expect any lesser sense of decorum and decency from Akin Fadeyi.
I can bet that Akin Fadeyi is maintaiing stoic silence not because he's not sure on his feet but because he's an ardent admirer of President Muhammadu Buhari and his anti-corruption stance which fits into his longtime dream of campaigning against corruption in Nigeria.
Akin Fadeyi is a firm and very intelligent individual but also a gentleman and would not want to be seen to be at loggerheads with the same government he admires, at least not if he can help it.
But you (the Minister), Alhaji Lai Mohammed should be singled out as an unseen hand working against PMB’s anti-corruption crusade with what you have done on change campaign.
It’s worrisome to us as Nigerians that after you the Minister went round the country calling for ideas from young Nigerians; you came to public in your Punch interview to say you received over twenty proposals only to imply that none of them was good enough and had to rely on your concept you claimed to have "concluded by October 2015".
As a journalist, I simply exposed what I believe bears the hallmark of corruption which I know and believe the current government under President Muhammadu Buhari stands firmly against.
To that extend, I do not owe you any apology, I have none to tender and I indeed urge you to sue me.”
Signed: Omor Bazuaye (Journalist)