The advert for Sony’s new “slim” PlayStation 3, which runs on YouTube and Facebook (online social community websites) shows a salesman who is introduced as Kevin Butler with the designation “Director of Rumor Confirmation” being asked about the price of the product. “You can’t believe everything you read on the internet,” he tells the prospective customer. “Otherwise, I’d be a Nigerian millionaire by now.”
Firstly, this advert indicts all Nigerian millionaires (politicians, top public office holders and businessmen) as fraudsters. Secondly, it indicates that every unsolicited fraud related e-mails received by internet users around the world originate from Nigeria. This is because, the senders of such “419 e-mails” usually introduce themselves as Nigerian businessmen, politicians or top public office holders who have access to huge public funds and requires assistance from any interested persons who can help transfer such monies from the public treasury in Nigeria to any private account outside Nigeria, with the promise to give certain percentage of the money to the interested volunteer who accepts this money on his behalf. But this volunteer must be prepared to fund the necessary paper work that will enable the transfer to be successful; this is the point where the greedy victim starts paying the advance fees to process the necessary documents needed for the transfer, hence, it is called “Advanced Fee Fraud”.
To further buttress the point that Sony is deliberately attacking Nigeria’s image, they also went ahead to release a movie titled “District 9” under Sony Pictures, it was first released in Australia on 13 August 2009, Hong Kong on 1 October 2009 (Nigeria’s 49th Independence) and will be released in Columbia on 30 October 2009 amongst many other set dates of releases. This movie clearly shows a man named Obesandjo (this name sounds like Obasanjo) as the head of a gang of cannibals and our girls as prostitutes. In one of the scenes, Obesandjo tries to cut off and eat the arm of the film’s protagonist, in an attempt to gain his supernatural powers. In others, Nigerian prostitutes are seen courting alien customers.
The Federal Government reacted angrily to this advert, which depicts Nigeria as the home of fraudsters. In her response Prof. Dora Akunyili said “It is on record that Sony Corporation has operated in Nigeria since the country’s independence and has enjoyed tremendous patronage from Nigerians at home and abroad. There is no established record that the company has recorded any major incidence of scam or fraud by Nigerians that warrants its deliberate campaign against the country’s image,” She also requested for an unconditional apology from the Japanese organisation for this “deliberate negative campaign against the country’s image and reputation.” “The apology must be given the same measure of publicity by Sony Corporation in all channels where the unfortunate adverts were aired,” she insisted. She also spoke against this movie, but no action has been taken on the part of Sony.
It was reported in some media that Sony apologized for their action, but unfortunately, the apology was not given the same measure of publicity as required by Madam Re-Branding, besides, this advert is still running on these social community websites (as at press time), and the movie is still been released in cinemas around the world. What is the implication of Sony’s actions? Like Fela Anikulakpo-Kuti would say “You no fit do nothing”. What is Aondokaa waiting for? Does he agree with the advert and decides to do nothing about it? Is it that he does not have moral backings to confront Sony? Or is he so engrossed in the James Ibori’s issue that he cannot see or hear what Sony is doing to a country that he has been mandated to protect its legal integrity?
According to studio estimates, the Corporation has obviously made a lot of money at the expense of Nigeria’s image. It gained US$37 million (€25.16 million) during its U.S. debut weekend in August. In its five-week run at U.S. theaters, it brought in an estimated US$108,000,000 (€73,444,406.66). Can Nigeria’s Nollywood come near this record in 10 years? Besides, how come the movie entered Nigeria without the notice of Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board? It was aired in Nigeria’s cinemas without the approval of the board.
Now that all these have happened, what is the way forward? In my suggestion, it is time for our leaders to put the house in order. If there are no loop holes, the detractors would not have any point to hold.