|Photo: Linda Ikeji's blog|
As sad as the whole Linda Ikeji saga is, and I admit it is sad on all fronts, we need to look beyond the sentiments and face some very fundamental facts. And one glaring fact is that Ms Linda Ikeji did take materials from people without attribution, and she made good money in the process. Another truth is that we all talking about this because a Linda Ikeji is involved—this story would not have gotten to Google if it was a Mazi Nwonwu complaining about Intellectual Theft.
I must admit that I am a fan of Linda Ikeji. Her story is a testament of what a motivated person can achieve.
I think Linda, as many of us are, is infected by that Nigerian bug that sees the hand of the enemy in everything negative that befalls us. Rational minds will think this a silly assumption, but when you see people you consider intellectuals dancing Makossa as they cast and bind the enemy chasing them from the village, you will understand the extent of this national delusion.
Perhaps these ‘enemies’ are the reason she kept her business in the family. And that’s one of the problem. Anyone who has done any business with her knows that her professionalism ends on the pages of her blog and that most companies have to drop laid down procedure just to do business with her. It was clear to me the very day I had to take a cheque to her neighbourhood in Surulere that she needs to shake things up.
Linda’s business ethics was a mess, but looking at where she is coming from, one can put it all down to naivety. So Let's say she didn't know. Now she does. So she will, expectedly, come out stronger, with a little less arrogance and maybe she will start listening to good counsel.
However, while we blame Linda for not listening (well we can, but that doesn’t mean we are right), we must bear in mind that she actually does listen, but possibly to just the wrong kind of counsel. When the saga started, people rushed to defend her against what they presumed to be hawks set to devour a damsel in distress. Though some of these defenders acknowledged she did something wrong in the first place, they felt defending her was more important than stressing why the toad was jumping around in daylight.
Our own Pa Ikhide R. Ikheloa wanted Linda left alone because many of those attacking her are hypocrites. I think while he might be right about the hypocrisy, our dear elder forgets the story of the man who brought a log within which juicy ants nest and then starts complaining about the sudden increase in the number of red necked agama in his compound. I say sir; Linda’s game-plan was very much like keeping a prized nne ewu in heat in an mkpi’s pen and complaining about the mkpi’s behaviour.
Chude Jideonwu, vibrant media entrepreneur of the new school, also backed Linda: but we all know that his Ynaija swims in the same river and thus we can hail him for not joining the hypocrites.
Then there was Ohimai...
and several others...
The point is, powerful people backed Linda when this story broke and I wouldn't be far from the mark when I say she paid attention and took counsel from this support. Just read her 'response' to the ‘hater’ and hear the story of the Nigeria of today told in flashing colours: Yes, I stole, but everybody is stealing and they are only after me because I am a successful thief. In it, you’d see the average Nigerian public servant, the police man at the check point and NEPA man glaring down at you from the top of an electric pole, pliers in hand, telling you to do the ‘right’ thing with his eyes.
I am not saying those who say envious goons were stalking Linda don't have a point, they absolutely do, but oyibo mulitimillion dollar businesses no dey send naija sentiments. If Google was owned by a Nigerian, nothing would have happened as we would be swayed by the need to avoid a mini Biafran war—them against us sort of thing. But, the oyibo just looked at the facts and what clearly was an admission of theft, as contained in her 'response'.
I like Linda Ifeoma Ikeji, I think I’ve said this before. She has an internet reach that no media organisation in Nigeria can lay claim to. Couple this with a drive that I’ve only seen in two other women (Nnedi Okorafor and Ukamaka Olisakwe) and you have a potential global player.
My friend and fellow writer Nze Ifedigbo said, in the midst of the initial noise, that he sees Linda running a very successful TV talk show, and I agreed. She’s got that kind of aura: the Midas touch.
So Linda, it is time to start listening. Opin yer ear an hia. Stop putting up defences such as: 'I am not leaving blogger o, see what hackers are doing to Sahara reporters and co', 'The people who squatted my domain name are asking me to pay x, not doing that, they can have it', ‘I don’t have a team yet’, etc.
Yes, you showed us how a multi-million Naira business can be ran from atop a cosy bed, by one person. For sure, this model will make beautiful topic for business management students, but it is time to take it to the next level. Mind you, a lot of people are eager for you to succeed, and they are surely more numerous than those who want to see you fail.
Nne, just do the right things...and stop sharing those pictures, you are not a wanna be, you are.
In all of these, make sure you don’t forget the LIRS.