Mobile Tyrants By Samuel Okopi


Adverts are now served via SMS in such quantity that one would think telecom companies are going bankrupt; their salvation screwed to the irritable invasion of customers’ private space.

Everyday, on the average, I receive a combined total of fifty messages from the three mobile phone lines I use. It is frustrating when the bombardment of my phone with these irrelevant messages, coincides with my anxious wait for an overdue credit alert.

Imagine how I feel when I quickly pick up my phone, open to read the latest SMS and find I have been asked to pay ₦50 weekly so I can learn how to make money. Talk about bondage.

There are times I lurch at my beeping phone, hoping to see an alert for that ₦10,000 I have been expecting. But what do I see? A text message asking me to decode which of (a) beans (b) rice (c) yam and (d) goat, is an animal; so I can stand the chance of winning 1million naira.

SMS has virtually been rendered useless in Nigeria. If not for social media platforms like Whatsapp (which ingeniously doesn’t serve advertisement) and BBM; the blitzkrieg of SMSs by the mobile companies would have become an even more hellish experience.

It is common practice to…

Imagine. A call from an unknown number just came through. I picked up, said hello, and listened to an audio variant of the irritating adverts I am served daily via SMS.

Of course, I ended the call abruptly, hissed and went back to writing this.

It is common practice to serve adverts on platforms that render services for free. Every month, I expend an exorbitant amount of money on airtime for making calls, sending out SMSs and accessing the internet. I cough out hard-earned money. Yet, my patronage of the telecommunications sector is rewarded with broken calls, inaudible call sessions and–the monster of them all–irrelevant SMSs that interrupt my thoughts and steal my joy.

I hope mobile network operators turn a new leaf soon. Nigerians don’t deserve the disrespect for their private space that comes with the telecom companies’ aggressive SMS marketing. Nigerians could do with one less layer of discomfort amongst the pile of many.

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