The Nigerian Youth, Music And Politics.
Around the turn of the millennium, a new wave blew across the Nigerian entertainment industry as its local music scene became much more acceptable to local and international standards than was previously noticed. This brought to fore several reputable Nigerian musicians that are global leaders plying their trade as musicians. From Eddie Remedy, to Azadus, Plantashun Boyz and a host of others, the world was yet to witness the mighty wind that was blowing across the country. The youths now savour in the beats and lyrics of their local musicians, ditching the foreign hit songs to make way for the locals. This is eighteen solid years since the turn of the millennium.
From music legends like the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who was a conscience of the masses and spoke out against societal ills, especially in governance and the polity, to his surviving sons who have taken the same trade and route like their father, the country now has far more music activists that have helped usher in most of the change we have witnessed in the country. When Fela died, many would have thought music celeb activism died with him, but the national acceptance of our local musicians have wrought a new belief that truly, Fela’s legacies moved on. As celebrities, these musicians now have national appeal to effect the needed change within the society, and rightly so.
In Nigeria, our election holds every four years, bringing in a new set of leaders while some choose to vote for continuation through second-term ambitions, but the winner in any kind of election in the country is definitely chosen by a demography of the population- the youths, who are the most vibrant and populous group of people in the country. As at the last count, Nigeria has the largest youth population of any country in the world with about 40% of the population been between 18 years old(the minimum age required for voting) and 40 years old. The power wield by this set of people is truly under-rated as politicians, many of whom are past over the ages of 55 to 60 use the same youths as political thugs to inflict injuries and sufferings on perceived enemies, many of whom also are youths, thereby causing them to face and maim themselves as living to have access to their daily bread. No thanks to the high unemployment rate and the poverty level in the country. Currently, Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world, overtaking India with a poverty population of 87 million people compared with India’s 73 million in abject poverty.
With high poverty and high unemployment rates, we take solace in our celebrities who have forged a way for themselves above all odds, revelling in their lavish, sometimes magnanimous lifestyle which they portray on social media. One thing is sure: where the politicians failed in neglecting the youths, the celebs succeeded in bringing the youths together and showing them that they too matter in the affairs of the world. This is clearly seen when a celebrated musician comes back on social media to thank his fans who supported him to the level he is whether or not he wins an award. Politicians rarely show this appreciation by building projects in the constituencies they are elected to represent. At most times, many of them only share cups of rice as appreciation to the electorates.
As the growing usage of social media platforms, access to our representatives in governance is much easier than before, though they may decide to ignore a call out to them, but the multitudes of people on the platform who are prospective electorates would not make them do So. They have to save face to answer to the people’s call on electronic platforms. If there is one thing the politicians have learned from the musicians or celebrities in General, it is to know that every single person matters. They have realised this, and now look to leverage on the good perception celebs have on their followers to receive a cult-like following themselves.
The current re-run election in Osun state is a clear show of the power of celebs over politicians. The governorship candidate of the opposition PDP, Senator Adeleke, is an uncle to Davido, an A-list celeb in the country. During his campaigns, one could see his cousin moving around to secure votes for his uncle, using his large following and influence as a factor on the populace and the election held last Saturday was evident that that show of loyalty to his uncle by Davido clearly had an impact in the overall result of the election. His uncle led the ruling party with over 300 votes, even with running scandals against the person of the candidate. But is this the first time a celeb would influence the outcome of an election as big as this? Let’s go down memory lane.
Music Meets Politics
Since the time of Action Congress, Alhaji Wasiu Ayinde Marshall (K1 De Ultimate) has been a loyal party faithful. He was always seen in the party’s rallies everywhere the campaign train took them. He helped influenced the grip of the party in Lagos state and other south-western states of the Federation. Now the All Progressives Council (APC), K1 is still a loyal party faithful.
Abolore Akande ‘9ice’ is a popular musician who delved into politics in 2014. He contested for the house of representative seat in Ogbomosho North/South and Orire federal constituency in his hometown of Oyo state. Though he lost to his formidable opponent, Akeem Oyewumi, son of the Soun of Ogbomoso, at the All Progressives Congress (APC) party primary in Oyo state, but the influence he wielded at The primary was reminisce of what only a celebrity of his status quo could have. Same is said of Kenny St Brown (KSB), of the renowned Kennis Music dynasty. In 2015, she contested for the membership of the Lagos state house of assembly to represent Onigbongbo local government in Ikeja, but lost the ticket to Folajimi Lai Mohammed, son of the present minister of information and culture in her party’s primaries. Music celebs and politics tend to go we’ll hand-in-hand, but maybe when the musicians play from the sidelines where their influence would be better noticed and appreciated. There are other celebrities that are not musicians who have also delved into politics. One of such celebs is a Lagos house of assembly member, Hon. Desmond Elliot.
Like Desmond, comedian Julis Agwu is another celebrity who tested his power in the murky waters of Nigerian political spheres. However, he was not able to fully rate his prowess in politics as he stepped down from contesting for the governorship seat of his state, Rivers state in south-southern part of Nigeria. And like Agwu, there are countless others who failed to fully utilise the strength of their growing followership base.
Kate Henshaw is another celeb-politician. She was defeated in her party’s primary election in 2015 after she hoped to represent Calabar Municipal at the Federal house of representatives.
Whilst the celebrities foray into politics is a good choice for the followers and people they choose to represent, they should also play politics from the sidelines from the sides like Davido and others have done. They could be better beneficial to the people in this instance, becoming the voice of the masses and conveying their conscience to the better good of the populace. The Occupy Nigeria movement is one of such good benefits of the celebs to their followers, including the many sensitization Campaigns for the registration of voters in the country. Celebs like Olamide, 2face Idibia (2 Baba), TY Bello, Timi Dakolo, Falz, Don Jazzy, and many others have lent their support for the greater participation of Nigerian youths in politics, and we better appreciate their stand on this. And should any of them choose to take the next step further by seeking elective positions, then they should also be rest assured that the youths they stand for today will stand with them tomorrow, provided they will not compromise the utmost good faith repose in them by us.
And just this year, contesting for a seat in the Lagos State House of Assembly is Banky W, an A-list musician whom many had almost cruxified because of his political ambition. But as fate (or ill luck) would have it, he surpassed expectation first by winning his polling unit, something even the Presidential candidate of the opposition party, PDP, could not do in the just concluded election; whilst not forgetting the Vice President also lost same to the opposition in his own unit. With this feat, many congratulated him for putting up a good fight, albeit in futility.
One thing that is sure to note is that the average musician is no more just an entertainer. He has now become a crusader; one whose voice resonates in the wilderness, and they may just be the key we need to shout the voices of the masses to the people in power and become the change we earnestly desire to see.