Controversy around the recently launched Change Begins With Me campaign by President Muhammadu Buhari, it appears, may not yet be over as it has been revealed that the exercise cost the Federal Government a whopping N3.4 billion.
According information gleaned by Daily Independent, the communication consultant headed by Brian Ebden and a company, Centerspread, signed a contract worth N1.7 billion with the ministry of information.
Centerspread and Ebden’s terms of reference were to create logo, artwork, jingles and TV concepts.
Some civil society groups got N700 million to promote the campaign while some celebrities in the country got N100 million to be used as faces of the controversial change campaign.
Their achievements would be used as basis for Nigerians to follow, according to the reasons, adduced for their inclusion.
According to Independent’s investigations, other costs the ministry incurred include sponsorship of dignitaries who attended the launch, advertisements and other things labeled as miscellaneous.
All attempts to speak with the information minister, proved abortive as his media aide, Segun Adeyemi, did not reply to text messages sent to his phone.
The controversial campaign has been a subject of intense controversy with one Akin Fadeyi’s team laying claim to being the brain behind it.
They alleged that the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, stole the concept from the team after series of meeting with him and members of the ministry.
Fadeyi, who is a member of the project team, on Wednesday, told Independent he is under intense pressure which has prevented him from making any public comment, noting that he presented three tapes to the minister during one of their meetings.
A new line of evidence Fadeyi associates presented on Wednesday to Independent showed that the logo he presented to the minister was almost the same with the logo that was used as the official logo during the launch by President Buhari.
In addition, the three video drama which Fadeyi and his team alleged were given to the minister all ended with the sound ‘Change Begins With Me’ just like what the government launched.
Fadeyi’s length of drama was one minute exactly like that presented by the minister.
An associate, Emeka Oparah, had expressed his surprise at the development saying, “I cannot …understand why the Federal Government would launch what to me is a Xerox copy of Mr. Fadeyi’s ‘Not in My Country’. Why the duplication? Why the replication? Why not a collaboration?
While Lai Muhammed and his media aide kept mum, the consultant, Brian Abden, who handled the final phase of the project denied the allegation.
Abden said, “I together with the advertising agency, Centerspread, were contacted a week after Alhaji Lai Mohammed was nominated as minister by the president to attend a brainstorming workshop on Thursday, October 8, 2015 at the White House Hotel in Ikeja.
“At this briefing, Alhaji Lai Mohammed’s first statement was that once he has taken office, he wishes to launch a change campaign entitled, ‘Change begins with me’. It was Centerspread and my task to develop the communications campaign and strategy, following an in-depth briefing which we received at this session.
“By October 30, 2015, the entire first generation creative work was sent to Alhaji Lai Mohammed which included the first created logo, artwork, jingles and TV 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’.
“What is conspicuous by its absence is any form of complaint or utterance by anyone whatsoever to the plethora of public information espoused directly by the honourable minister to argue that the concept of ‘Change begins with me’ belongs to him or her. However, they waited for the campaign to be launched officially by the president before making spurious claims that the honourable minister plagiarised their so-called concept and appropriated their supposed intellectual property.”
According to the Nigerian Copyright Act of 1990, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, copyright infringement is an offence. The perpetrator is guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine of N100 for every copy dealt with or imprisonment for six months or both such fine and imprisonment.