THE All Progressives Congress, APC, has for a while placed the allegedly plagiarised Next Level logo in several places on its official website, although it had denied any knowledge of or connection with it.
Hours after the unveiling of the party’s campaign mantra and symbols in readiness for the 2019 general elections, many an eyebrow was raised regarding the logo and its originality.
Prior to APC’s announcement in November, the brand ‘NExT LEVEL’ and an identical logo have been associated with a professional development programme of the Winthrop University-School Partnership Network, executed in collaboration with Fort Mill School District, Lancaster County School District, and Rock Hill School District.
As soon as the scandal broke out, Winthrop University’s Rex Institute, in a letter addressed to APC’s National Legal Adviser, threatened to institute legal action if it does not stop using its intellectual property.
“As you can see from the attached visuals, the logo your Party has just unveiled and which is being promoted by the Leader of the Party and the President of Nigeria on his Twitter feed is a direct copy of that of our client, with just a small colour change in the arrow,” the letter read.
“However, every other element from the name, font and design is identical. In fact, in my entire legal career, I have never seen such a blatant piece of plagiarism. We, therefore, demand that you immediately cease and desist in any use of the logo and make every effort to recall and destroy all materials which have already been disseminated.”
Party denies connection to logo, blames opposition
While on air in November, Festus Keyamo, spokesperson of the Buhari’s Campaign Organisation, accused supporters of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of being the brains behind the creation and circulation of the plagiarised logo.
“Look at the Next Level [logo], it is totally different from what they are showing, Look at our official logo released,” he said. “They went to steal a logo crafted it as if it is our own and put it up on the social media. Fraud!”
Two months later, logo remains on website
A look at the APC’s most active website shows that the controversial logo is still largely in use, in spite of the fact that it was disowned. Sitting at the top of the home page is a screen-size graphics that contains pictures of President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the APC logo, as well as the Next Level logo.
The version of the logo on the website shares even greater semblance to the original one belonging to The Rex Institute, as the letters in “LEVEL” with the exception of “V” are written using a black font colour. But unlike the Institute’s logo, “NEXT” is written using white fonts. On the other hand, in the first version of the campaign logo circulated on the internet, both words are written in green colour.
In the website’s photo gallery, there are presently five graphics, and all except one have the Next Level logo boldly embedded. These images are placed strategically on the website too. We have two of them, for instance, on the Manifesto page. All other pages also have one or another of the five images used as the header.
That is not all. The recently added sub-domain for press releases, news, and interviews, also has five sets of the logo accompanying cartoons of Buhari and Osinbajo on both side margins of the website. It is not clear if the party has sought permission from the copyright owners to make use of it, or this is just a brazen disregard for the facts as they appear.
The ICIR attempted reaching out to Keyamo for clarification, but calls placed to two of his phone numbers were not answered. Texts sent to him have also not been responded to.
Not the first plagiarism scandal
The Next Level logo is not at the centre of the only plagiarism scandal that has dogged the All Progressives Party or the Buhari-led administration. In September 2016, the speech delivered by Buhari in launching the ‘Change Begins with Me’ campaign was discovered to have lifted significant portions from a 2008 victory speech of former US President Barack Obama.
Recently also, the introductory paragraph to the power supply section of APC’s Next Level Agenda as published on its website was also found to contain stark similarities with contents on other online platforms — with the heading stating that the party’s “first priority is keeping America safe and secure”.
Lanre Issa-Onilu, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, however claimed in a press release on Saturday that the site was hacked and its contents tampered with.