Feature- The Accusations of Plagiarism and the Buhari Administration: What Next?

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By Dorcas Omotayo

In the wake of the massive reviews which poured in after the unveiling of the Nigeria at 60 logo, creatives who have been given the golden opportunity of showcasing their skills and talents, are faced with the accusation of plagiarism. Putting it into perspective, Oxford dictionary explains plagiarism as the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own. However, if found guilty of plagiarism, it could result in legal actions or penalties against the culprit. But, in this case, it appears that the accusation may have been made from a malicious place rather than certitude.

For the purpose of inclusiveness, the Federal Government called on Nigerians to submit creative ideas in commemoration of Nigeria’s 60th Independence Day celebration. Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, who doubles as Chairman, Diamond, Innovation, Change Sub-Committee, Nigeria at 60 Inter-ministerial Committee, disclosed this in a statement. “The Federal Government uses this opportunity to celebrate our strength as one indivisible country. The Federal Government is also providing opportunity for Nigerians to choose their brand and harness the power of our creative minds to create other elements that will form the brand of the anniversary,” he said.

Meanwhile, it was reported that Nigerian agencies which includes Chain Reactions Nigeria, TBWA Africa and The Temple Management Company have jointly created a logo for the Nigeria at 60, which was unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari in a brief ceremony before the weekly virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja. During the unveiling, the President revealed that, the theme of this year’s celebration is “Together Shall We Be”, he also stated that the chosen logo is based on the choice of Nigerians.

“Celebrating 60 years of independence really calls for pomp and pageantry, but for the global COVID-19 Pandemic, which has forced all nations in the world to think and act differently, has also forced on us the imperative of a low-keyed celebration. Operating within the limitations placed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we created an internet challenge for Nigerians to make a choice from a set of four pre-selected logos that will appropriately define theme. Of these four options, Nigerians from all walks of life participated in making a choice and I’m happy to let you know that the logo I will be unveiling is a product of choice from the Nigerian people.” The president said.

However, this was not well received by some passionate Nigerians who claimed that the logo was plagiarised. This is based on the premise that the diamond which formed a part of the logo was first unveiled by the Russian Diamond Mining company – Alrosa, in 2017. Notwithstanding, the creative agencies have come out to refute the claim. In a joint statement, they said, “Instead of saying that the diamond looks similar to the one they have found on the internet, they have disingenuously alleged that Nigeria plagiarised her 60th Anniversary logo.

“What a convenient narrative but a disservice to our fatherland. A quick check on the internet shows that there are thousands of diamonds with crystals that look alike. The images on the Internet are there in any way for creative usage and purposes. Some are backed by rights and paid for while others are free.”

There is no gainsaying that the Buhari led administration has been plagued with accusations of plagiarism on different occasions. Not forgetting that In September 2016, Buhari’s ‘Change Begins With Me’ speech contained some sentences that were similar to some in Barack Obama’s 2008 victory speech. Buhari said, “We must resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship, pettiness and immaturity that have poisoned our country for so long.” In response, the President expressed regret over the incident. Also, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity at the time equally confirmed that the officer responsible is no longer in the State House.

Also in 2018 when the President and his party, the All progressives Congress (APC), launched the 2019 presidential campaign titled ‘Next Level’, the Next Level logo was said to have been plagiarised, bearing similarities with the logo of a project by the Winthrop University-School Partnership Network in collaboration with Fort Mill School District (York 4), Lancaster County School District, and Rock Hill School District (York 3).

Above and beyond the several accusations of plagiarism, the government must ensure that proper due diligence is done when it comes to creative work. Even though ideas are universal, we must however ensure that our ideas represent as well as promotes our heritage and culture. There is absolutely nothing wrong with incorporating a creative work done by someone else, but they must be acknowledged in such an instance. It is also germane to have a structured and efficient vetting system, especially for a creative work of such magnitude.

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