Recently the Nigerian Communications Commission announced that consumers now had the freedom to switch to different networks of their choice while still maintaining their original phone numbers. This idea was initiated in an attempt to address the incessant network failure that consumers usually experienced and was tagged ‘MOBILE NUMBER PORTABILITY.’
A few weeks after, the telecommunication companies began to reel out adverts in a bid to woo consumers to ‘port’ to their networks if they ever encountered any difficulty with their existing networks, but perhaps of all the ‘porting’ adverts created by the different networks, it was MTN’s that was the most remarkable for many creative, comical (and malicious) reasons.
I’d actually heard about the advert for days but really never had the chance to watch it until one evening while I was watching a local TV channel (identity withheld). I was dissatisfied with the programmes showing on this channel so I decided to ‘port’ to the next channel (identity again withheld).
The advert had just begun when I flipped on to this channel. I saw this slim figure standing on a stage with his back facing the camera,; he is tapping his feet to the beat of the song playing and as the song hits a crescendo, this figure spins 90 degrees around and faces the camera as he screams out the words of the song (it appeared to me like he was lip synching though). I couldn’t believe who I was seeing! It was Saka! I could tell he was the one as he was flashing his trademark gap tooth everywhere. Just a few months ago he was working for Etisalat and now he had ‘ported’ to MTN, and from the expression on his face, I could tell there was no love lost between him and his former employers. Whenever he got to the point in the song where he had to sing ‘I don port go…’ he’d widen his eyes and mouth and sing so passionately as if he was standing face to face with Steve Evans, the Etisalat MD and wanted him to know he was doing just fine where he was. The brief advert then ends with Saka doing this very comical dance while three back up female singers compliment with a synchronized Azonto dance (which is my favorite part of the advert by the way).
The story behind this whole drama is that Saka (real names Hafeez Oyetoro) used to be a familiar face on many of Etisalat’s adverts. He added a lot of life and humour to the brand’s adverts with his comical mannerisms and gesticulations and soon became the toast of many TV viewers in the country but all of that became history when Saka ‘Ported’ from Etisalat to MTN on a deal believed to be worth N20M. Right now tongues are already wagging, accusing MTN of poaching the red hot Saka from his employers and how the NCC should penalize MTN yada yada…, but I do not think MTN committed any crime in this ‘porting’ saga, this is because Saka, as it has been revealed was never under any contract with Etisalat. His efforts were never even adequately rewarded; his remuneration was done per advert and this was often meager. Besides, Saka was a mere artiste and not the hip, classy and urbane celebrity that Etisalat would have loved to pamper. Saka didn’t quite fit Etisalat’s Cosmopolitan brand; he was only used to appeal to a section of the Market, hence his shabby treatment in the hands of his former employers.
Saka obviously discovered that his network was faulty and decided to ‘Port’ to MTN. Today, he’s a star and is being treated as one by his new employers- MTN. Interestingly, Etisalat’s own ‘Porting’ advert (without Saka of course) is indeed a complete sham and speaks volume of how much damage Saka’s absence has done to the brand; at least right now.
To be honest there is a ‘Saka’ in us all (except the gap tooth and the sheepish look though). When Robin Van Persie ‘ported’ from Arsenal to Manchester United, he showed the Saka in him. When Cesc Fabregas left Arsenal to join Barcelona, he was showing us that he too had a Saka in him. Even the embattled Rivers State PDP Governor Rotimi Amaechi might just ‘port’ to ACN very soon, from the way things are going.
You see, even me, I’ve once ‘ported’ before. I ‘ported’ from a supposed employer who wasn’t just satisfied with giving me peanuts at the end of every month but also took joy in abusing me verbally and rubbishing every work that I did and so like Saka, I ‘ported’ from a bad network.
We’ve all at some point decided to leave a bad job, a crafty business partner, an unfaithful lover etc. When we did any of these, it was because we felt we deserved more but unfortunately we don’t always get more or what we deserve as other people tend to reward loyalty with oppression and with some people, what you reap isn’t always what you sowed. People cruelly take advantage of loyalty, they turn service to subservience, they manipulate, they undervalue and devalue their subordinates’ worth, they fail to reciprocate faithfulness and loyalty etc. Now, if you are a victim of these, then most likely your ‘portability’ level is very high, after all it is said that people want to go where they are CELEBRATED and not TOLERATED. It is usually wise to resort to ‘portation’ ahead of time so as to avoid ‘deportation’. When people use and dump you, that is ‘deportation’, so to avoid that humiliation, like Saka, ‘Port’ NOW! However, ‘importation’ isn’t also encouraged. When you betray a friendship, or the trust and investment that you have benefitted from others by dumping them, especially for ‘greener pastures, then you have just ‘imported’ yourself.
So, next time when you want to ‘port’, be sure it’s not ‘importation’ and if it isn’t, please ‘port’ wisely and swiftly before you are ‘deported’. Meanwhile I will be ‘porting’ from something to something else this week, what a coincidence! So… ‘I don portooo!’
A shout out to my friends Ogonna ‘Arise’ who recently ‘ported’ from Port Harcourt to Lagos, I still miss him! And Kingsley Etim who will be ‘porting’ from singlehood to ‘marriagehood’ very soon…*wink wink*