Wednesday, September 23, 2009

PlayStation3 saga: Sony shivers as Akunyili roars

The last may not have been heard of the ‘malicious advertisement’ by Sony Corporation and hosted on the World Wide Web, especially at some of the social networking sites, depicting Nigeria as a nation of criminals and advanced fee fraud otherwise called 419.

This came as fear has gripped the management of Sony Corporation in African region and Nigeria particularly on the likelihood that the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) may met out sanctions to the mobile and electronic company.

According to the Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Mrs. Dora Akunyili, the attention of the government has been drawn to an advertisement by Sony Corporation on the internet, which from all intents and purposes was designed to expose Nigeria in bad light in an effort for Sony to market her products, especially the PlayStation3 (PS3).

ITRealms Online gathered that the advertisement showed a man talking about the new PS3 and how it could be bought over the Internet at a very cheap rate. The customer in his reaction impressed that it is impossible to get it at that price, hence “you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet otherwise I’d be a Nigerian millionaire by now.”

Based on the aforementioned, Akunyili had noted that the commercial in question circulated extensively on www.youtube.com and www.facebook.com among other international websites, created the notion that Nigerians hardly engage in any genuine business for a living, an insinuation which puts Nigeria in bad light, and is unacceptable to the people of this great nation.

As said by her, it is on this premise that the government and the good people of Nigeria rejected this unwarranted attack on the reputation and image of the country.

“The government sees this as an attempt by Sony Corporation to undermine Nigeria’s business interest around the world,” she said.

Akunyili recalled that Sony Corporation has operated in Nigeria since the country’s independence and has enjoyed tremendous patronage from Nigerians at home and abroad.

Insisting that over the years, 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 noted that while Nigeria acknowledges the fact that there are few criminal-minded people within her population, just like any other country in the world including Japan, the home country of Sony Corporation, the government has as a matter of policy put in place institutions and mechanisms to purge the country of any form of fraudulent practices.

“Nigeria, therefore, does not see the basis to single out the country as an example in that infamous advertisement,” she decried, although it was on this ground that Nigeria requested Sony Corporation to immediately withdraw that advertisement from circulation, which has since been carried out.

In addition, Nigeria demanded an unconditional apology from Sony Corporation for this deliberate negative campaign against the country’s image and reputation, which according to her, must be given the same measure of publicity by Sony Corporation in all channels where the unfortunate adverts were aired.

Assuring all genuine investors globally that Nigeria remains a major investment destination, Akunyili maintained that Nigeria is a country where most businesses thrive in trust, good faith, competition, competence and integrity.

However, one unique point here by Akunyili was that a few criminal-minded individuals should not be used to generalize on the entire populace.

Equally of note here is that the tackling of this kind of campaign against the country heralds the first in the history of Nigeria that a serving minister found reason to address head-on such a campaign, at least to set the records straight.

Like Akunyili, every other good Nigerian should be concerned and so was Mustapha Abubakar Sidi, who endorsed the stand of the government in this issue.

For him, one of Prof Akunyili’s notable remarks in the rebranding crusade has been that when someone calls you a bad name and you do not do something about it, others would join in the fray and it would stick.

Sidi pointed out that the advertisement put up by Sony Corporation promoting its Playstation3 (PS3) game was not only rude but smacks of ignorance and disrespect for a sovereign country.

“The more I think of it the more I wonder what Sony thinks of the Nigerian market. It is either the corporation is just plain irresponsible or they truly don’t know that Sony products have a huge following in Nigeria. If the latter be the case, then it is a shame. It means Sony has been using unaccredited distributors for its products in this country who have not been reporting back on huge sales and uninterrupted loyalty over the years,” he said.

Trying to find the rationale behind Sony’s decision to even allow such campaign to be launched in the first instance, he said, implies that Nigeria is a small or insignificant African country; where people are uneducated and less human as depicted in their latest movie called ‘District 9’- another misrepresentation by Sony Corporation.

Sidi emphasized that the statement on Playstation3 (PS3) is at the very heart of 419, which is the popular term for advance fee fraud, insultingly ascribed to Nigerians.

“We acknowledge that 419 does exists, and a few Nigerians have engaged in that practice, but that is not enough to slam the entire country or portray its citizens as criminals. Advance fee fraud is not unique to Nigeria. Nigerians did not invent it. It exists in most developed countries including Japan the home country of Sony. Citizens of other countries even use Nigeria as a front to perpetrate this crime,” he argued.

He, therefore, applauded the federal government through the Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Akunyili for reacting immediately.

As at the time of going to press, Sony is yet to meet the demands of the minister, but rather chose to post three sentences on its website directing an apology to “some members of the Nigeria community.” This, he said, goes to confirm that the corporation is responding to some Nigerians in Diaspora, who have been protesting.

It must be made clear to Sony that it is yet to apologize despite the fears on the reaction of Federal Government after the days of grace may have expired is still unknown. Above all, it is in Sony own interest to give the official apology without further much ado.

As at the time of going to press, ITRealms Online gathered that over 6,812 viewers have accessed the facebook link with 51 of them leaving comments, eight viewers marked the site as their favourite, 11 rated it with an average rating of 2.45, even as it has no honours, but lamentations and scolding of Sony Corporation.

Efforts to get the official reaction of Sony Corporation was not fruitful at the weekend as the company is yet to respond to our inquiry.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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