Saturday , 13 April 2024


“Swagger” as a word was reputed to have been coined by the great wordsmith, William Shakespeare, as far back as 1590, in one of his classic plays “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”; but on this side of the Atlantic, home to about 160 million people, we could as well claim “swagger” only came into our vocabulary in the late 2000s. Sauce Kid, now Sinzu, first introduced the word into the mainstream with his song “yebariba sanboribobo” where he kept repeating the hook “swagger swagger, hiiiinnnnn” (whatever that meant or means)… then the self-professed mad-man, Terry G, took it up a notch by mentioning the word in every one of his songs, then he took it up another notch by naming an album “Ginjah Ur Swaggah”, and from there, “Swagger” became Naija’s “Gangnam Style”, and woe betides any hip-hop artiste who refuses to use the word in a track, or any soft sell journalist or blogger who keeps malice with the word in an article/post.

Interestingly, this post is not about Swagger/Swagga/Swag/Swags/ Swagz, it is about a new word that has come to displace that popular family – PORT. Obviously, this is not a new coinage, neither in spelling, nor in context, but the rate at which it has gained popularity in Nigeria in the last two weeks could only be rivalled by the way President Goodluck Jonathan keeps making enemies (especially on Social Media Platforms) since January 2012. Wiktionary defines PORT in this context as:
i) (computing, video games) To adapt, modify, or create a new version of, a program so that it works on a different platform; to adapt a console video game title to be sold and played on another brand of console.
ii) (telephony) To carry or transfer an existing telephone number from one telephone service provider to another.

Thus, for the kick-off of the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) exercise in Nigeria on the 21st of April 2010, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and all the Telecommunications Companies (TELCOs) were right to adopt the word PORT as the standard expression; actually, they had to because they had no better option. But none of the TELCOs could have predicted the acceptance and mileage PORT would gain in a few weeks. “PORT” is now a synonym for everything that involves movement or the notional idea of changing position- from travelling, to changing jobs, going to bed, getting married, and even defecating. In synopsis, PORT is the new SWAG.
Expectedly, all the TELCOs have hidden behind adverts to fight the MNP war- MTN went gung-ho by successful porting Saka from Etisalat and that resonates well with most people; AIRTEL’s piece, though a jab specifically at MTN, is mature and classy and also resonated with many, but I met some people who suggested Airtel should have accompanied it with a manual; ETISALAT’s piece is also mature and classy, not aimed specifically at anyone (if you discount the switch at the end *winks*)but it was dull compared to Etisalat itself; and GLO decided to go the route of Dear John with special emphasis on the red colour, surprising to say the least, but people seem to have little expectation of GLO. But isn’t the MNP war supposed to be fought with quality of service?

Ironically, as funny and interesting as this reality is, it does not inspire much joy, because the essence of the MNP exercise is being lost somewhere in the middle. MNP is meant to give subscribers lots of choice and freedom, it is supposed to bring a new dimension to the competition in the industry, it is expected to make all network operators to work harder to earn the trust of subscribers, because subscribers will now have choices in a new dimension, but has anything really changed? The general consensus is that MTN will be the loser in this, but the reality is that there is no Utopia with any of the service providers, it is simply a case of being flanked on the four sides by a rock, an iron fence, a mountain, and a hard place, and deciding which of the four you find least worrisome.

Presently, subscribers ascribe affordability and reliability in data connectivity to Airtel and Etisalat; qualitative network coverage to Airtel and MTN; but responsible and accessible customer service to none. As long as all the service providers cannot single-handedly provide all the basic values expected of Mobile Telephony viz-a-viz qualitative coverage, affordable tariffs, reliable data connectivity, and accessible/responsive customer service, Nigerians will still subscribe to at least two of the four major providers with each serving different purposes. It is high time TELCOs woke up to the fact that these subscribers want their cups always full but TELCOs at the moment are offering cups which are only half-full, or half-empty.

Thank You!
God Bless Us All!!
See You Next Time!!!

Twitter: @SirRash
Facebook: Rasheed SirRash Adewusi

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