Legal Drama

#OccupyNigeria: Is D’Banj a Scapegoat or an Insensitive & Greedy Artist? Fans Outraged Over Music Video Shoot Amidst Ongoing Fuel Subsidy Protests

“I don’t care where he is from or what language he speaks. Bottom line, I want him back,” pleaded Nollywood A-list Actress Genevieve Nnaji in a very dramatic fashion as part of her 2011 campaign for Goodluck Jonathan. ”

I’m D’Banj! Ooooshe!. . .Nigeria I call on you, the last thing wey we need right now na badluck. Open your eyes and see Goodluck in front of you. . .” sang Mo’Hits Artist and Executive D’Banj, passionately, on a  remix of one of his hit singles ‘Scapegoat’ in support of the President last year. (In D’Banj’s video of the remixed ‘Scapegoat’ song, he said vote for Goodluck because you will have “stable prices at the pump nationwide.” It is not even a year yet. What happened to the promise?)

Unlike Nnaji, however,  D’Banj has become the poster face/boy for a celebrity that supported President Goodluck Jonathan during the President’s election campaign, against the wishes of millions. D’Banj stunned the country and his fans when the president refused to grant interviews to youth journalists but granted an interview to D’Banj at the height of political campaigns/elections. D’Banj while a successful businessman, has branded himself as an artist that is not to be taken seriously, especially where socio-political issues are concerned.

Nevertheless, D’Banj and his supporters argued his fans were mostly made up of the “havenots.” He believed he was the right person to interview the President because Nigeria’s impoverished youths, his demographic and the persons the President sought to reach, would tune in and vote for the President. He was right. They did.

Back then, however, further exarcebating the anger against D’Banj was the unauthorized use of artist eLDee’s image, likeness and name in campaigning for the President in a campaign all music celebrities allegedly supported. eLDee made it unequivocally clear he did not support the President’s candidacy and was outraged his image was used without his permission. He wrote a statement that he disseminated publicly  challenging those who used his name. Allegations subsequently flew, right after eLDee’s press release,  that D’Banj was livid with anger and threatened eLDee’s safety, among other things.

Thankfully, we all survived all the drama. Nigerians made their choice and voted for Goodluck Jonathan in an overwhelming land slide.

Now, D’Banj is under fire, again. It has recently been alleged that Mo’Hits music video director Sesan twitted (shared) on twitter that he was shooting the ‘Oliver Twist’ video in behalf of D’banj. ‘Oliver Twist’ is a hit song by D’Banj and Mo’Hits that went viral after it debuted as a video competition on the heels of the successful Mo’Hits ‘Enigma’ beat competition.

D’Banj’s fans reacted to Sesan’s tweet. They allegedly called out the insensitivity and seeming greed of D’banj. At a time when the nation is focused on the passage of a law with enormous adverse impact on all Nigerian citizens, especially the poor, albeit and arguably short-term, D’Banj is  off shooting a music video for ‘Oliver Twist’ of all song? Like seriously? Is this guy in touch with reality?

D’Banj has since appeared, today, on one of the nation’s most popular radio stations, Choice FM, to talk to his fans and clarify questions they may have. Nevertheless, many are still angered and some now threaten to stone him at his concerts, among other threats, if he does not physically participate in the protests.

Three questions this case raises for me.

1. Is D’Banj mandated to join in a protest against removal of fuel subsidy? My answer is “no.” Yes he supported President Goodluck Jonathan. It is a free country. He can do so. Yes, I was one of the ones who felt, very strongly, that he had no business interviewing President Goodluck and purporting to speak on socio-economic issues of the poor, mostly because I did not believe he was truly informed and was more focused on pushing his agenda. I still hold that opinion.

Nevertheless, Nigeria is a democracy. In a democracy, people (even if they are celebrities) should not be forced or bullied to act against their will, especially in a situation like this. D’Banj is free to protest or not protest. His fans can exercise their dissent by refusing to buy his CDs etc. I don’t think that is the best route because obviously it stifles a voice that could very well be important in the nation’s political discourse. Just because D’Banj chose to sell sex doesn’t mean he does not have a brain. You do not get to the top being dumb/daft. Further, to my understanding, D’Banj was born with a wooden spoon in his mouth not a silver spoon. He does not cease being a product of an impoverished community just because he is successful. His issue,  in my view, is a clear understanding of personal branding. It sort of underscores my discussions in the Tiwa Savage identity crisis case I discussed on this blog just before the end of year holidays in 2011. You can’t sell sex all the time (whether man or woman) to the masses and then turn around and say, “hey! Take me serious. I am smart. I am human and I feel like you guys. You might eventually be able to convince the masses but goodluck with that. You are on your own.

2. The second question raised is the timing of the alleged tweet of the music video director here. D’banj did not tweet what he was doing. The person who he hired allegedly did. Should Sesan have been sensitive to the political climate in the country and the client he is working for before tweeting? I think so. Sesan could have waited until the project was completed and also when there is calmness across the nation before tweeting. Artists and music directors often excitedly tweet or share news of upcoming videos etc. I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with this. It in fact helps fans feel even closer and excited about the upcoming announced project.

But, artists and non-artists alike, you have to be tuned into the reality of what is happening on the ground; and unless you are an experienced publicists, you should refrain in perilous times from putting your client in more harm’s way. This tweet has cost D’Banj a lot. If he continues to go at the rate he does with garnering bad publicity, it is only a matter of time till the Mo’Hits and D’banj brand lose both respect and brand strength from their local and ultimately international communities. Three major blunders so far committed by D’banj and the Mo’Hits crew: 1) D’Banj interviewing the President; 2) Mo’Hits and Don Jazzy claiming ” an arrest” of Kelly Hansome for alleged copyright infringement of their song; and 3) this seeming insensitive and greedy focus on money rather than the plight of those who pay for his wealth and success.

3. Finally, the third question is the bigger question of whether celebrities should be able to voice opinions that differ from the status quo. I sort of addressed it above. Again, I see nothing wrong with celebrities having their own political voice. I actually think they should. I, however, think endorsements of political candidates should be approached with caution and only after making sure such celebrity is well informed on the issues and those they seek to support. As a celebrity, you have an influential power, handle with care when you deal with people.

Genevieve Nnaji, Don Jazzy and D’banj are celebrities that have been attacked when they voice their opinions on political issues. Truthfully, I believe it is because the public at large do not respect the minds that these celebrities have. In contrast, the public has not objected and in fact welcomes discussions/opinions on current political issues from the likes of Banky W, eLDee, Sound Sultan and Sasha P. Banky W is particularly interesting because his music videos and lyrics are not any different, in terms of sexual undertones, than D’Banj. The difference, however, is that it is refined and when he gets opportunities with the media to speak about his work as a musician, he knows how to articulate his thoughts and express himself intelligently; hence gaining respect from even people that might not care for his kind of music or lyrics.

D’Banj, in contrast, despite his good looks, great taste in style and success, simply lacks the ability to intelligently articulate himself when he needs to, especially in front of the media and the larger masses. I have maintained he has to get the training he needs to become more refined in articulating himself intellectually if he intends to keep meddling in political discourse. In the final analysis, we are judged by what we put out there, whether we like it or not.

What are your thoughts? Should D’Banj be out protesting with Nigerians?Is he an insensitive and greedy artist?  Read the story below by Nigeriafilms.com:

“‘I go vote for Goodluck Jona, na the right man we need, to make us succeed, oh ha, … Jona, Jonah my friend, he is good for Nigeria, Bobo to good o, o nice o, o ni luck o…’

The above is excerpt of lyrics of Dapo Oyebanjo’s, who is well known as D’Banj, campaign song for President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) during the 2011 elections.

President Jonathan on January 1, 2012 announced the total removal of fuel subsidy by his government. This announcement has been greeted with wide public outcry and protests by Nigerians both in and outside the country. It has created tension in the polity since then.

At the first protest held in Lagos earlier this week, artistes like Banky W, Eldee, Seun Kuti, and other came out to protest the government’s stand on the matter. Hours later, D’Banj’s boss, Don Jazzy made his mind known by regretting voting for GEJ as the country’s President.

It was a big shock to the fans of the Kokomaster, as D’Banj is fondly called, when Mohits’ video director, Sesan tweeted, ‘D’Banj Oliver Twist video shoot tomorrow, it is going to be CRAZY.’

This infuriated a fan who quickly replied, ‘you(Sesan) and D’Banj armad, despite the brouhaha in the country, [you are shooting a video].

At least, D’Banj na (is his) son. Another fan asked, ‘is D’Banj not a Nigerian’?

Speaking with NigeriaFilms.Com, a top artiste who prefers to be anonymous said, ‘I can’t speak for him, but he should know that this present issue is very delicate. I saw the way people reacted to your previous stories on this issue about Don Jazzy and Genevieve bearing their minds, the people are emotional about it. So, they expect us (the celebs) to be on their side.’

The support of GEJ at the election by D’Banj and other top Nigerian celebrities had been called to question by some Nigerians. Some believed it was just like the Abacha for president rally of the 90’s.Source: Osaremen Ehi James/Nigeriafilms.com.”

D’banj’s Appeal for Goodluck Jonathan

Nollywood for Goodluck

D’Banj & Mo’Hits Oliver Twist


-Uduak

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8 Comments

  1. Foza says:

    Am Strongly with you on this Uduak!

  2. Feyi says:

    oh no, my sesan erred big time. wish he didn’t tweet that. but Uduak, let’s not carry an hatchet on d’banj quickly (dude creeps me out trust me), I mean what if the shot was already scheduled & financial deposit was made among other things? announcing it was the error to me not necessarily shooting it

    1. I don’t have an issue with D’Banj and my article actually supports him not protesting IF that is his conviction and belief, as I indicate. As I also state, I believe Sesan if he indeed did tweet about the ‘Oliver Twist’ music video shoot, created a crisis and should have been sensitive because D’Banj did not put his business out there. Sesan the hired music video director did. Nevertheless, my article moves on to focus on whether celebrities should have a political voice and state it. I conclude they should. But I argue that to avoid being attacked on their positions and at a minimum be taken seriously, then they need to focus on branding themselves accordingly. Exhibit A is D’Banj and his unsuccessful attempts to be taken seriously in the political discourse. Successful stories of artists who do it right and serving as Exhibit B in my article is eLDee, Banky W, Sasha P and Sound Sultan. Please read.

      Thanks for your comment.

      -Uduak

  3. tonye says:

    Spot on Uduak as usual. God bless you

  4. Feyi says:

    Thanks for clarification Uduak, I always read before commenting. was sort of responding to “Is D’Banj a Scapegoat or an Insensitive & Greedy Artist?” and my response supported him being a scapegoat as a result of Sesan’s tweet which you mentioned, noted! what i didnt support was the comparison between d’banj and other artiste in this context. Sesan’s tweet should of be the bone of contention or so I thought. wouldnt have felt a hatchet was carried out on d’banj if his articulation was compared to other artiste in another article entirely. its just my two cents Uduak, i still admire you tho. and I dont have an issue with d’banj too but he creeps hell outta me honestly

    1. Clarify. What do you mean, “what i didnt support was the comparison between d’banj and other artiste in this context?” Unclear.

      UO

  5. Feyi says:

    I didnt support you elaborating on how banky articulates himself properly whilst d’banj doesn’t which makes his opinion not to be taken seriously. it was to me a divergence from what i thought this article should be about, Sesan’s tweet vs. D’banj shooting a video and D’banj rights to shoot the video now vs. The fans outrage.

    1. I completely disagree this article should be about Sesan’s tweets. Sesan’s tweet is but one issue but Sesan did not sign up to be Goodluck Jonathan’s spokesperson during the campaign for youths. Sesan did not get on national TV, remix a song and ask the masses to vote for GEJ boldly promising stable prices at the gas pumps as one incentive. Sesan definitely did not get on national TV and have the audacity to interview GEJ on behalf of Nigeria’s youths. D’Banj did. He is accountable to show up and speak to the masses, the people he urged and passionately pleaded to vote. They are the ones dying right now, not D’Banj. D’Banj is not protesting, they are. Does he have a right to refuse to protest, of course. But to those who voted for GEJ because of him, it is ridiculous and he has left them when it mattered most.

      He was no where to be found, that is why the masses called on him to show his face. He finally did. Was Sesan’s actions reckless? In my opinion, “yes” only because of the situation we are currently in. Otherwise, there is nothing wrong with hyping fans up about a shoot. It is always prudent to wait till the shoot is complete for other things that could go wrong. But really, no big deal if Sesan chose to forego doing that. The issue is timing.

      Also, the issue here cannot be about D’Banj’s right to shoot a video. That would make no sense. The issue is the timing of the shoot and the perceived insensitivity of the shoot. Arguably, but for D’Banj asking millions of Nigerian youths to vote for GEJ, they would not have. They did and GEJ has reneged on one of his main promises. Clearly, these youths should go back to the fella who told them to vote to say, “hey Mr.Kokomaster What’s really good? You told us to vote but your man went crazy on us.” They did, only D’Banj was missing.

      Finally, I have maintained and continue to maintain D’Banj is inarticulate when he speaks in public. He is not informed on the issues and he needs to get the requisite training as a business man and one who puts himself into the political discourse to do so. He has an obligation to do so if he will use his influence to ask the poor to vote for his favorite candidate.

      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it. I suppose we can agree to disagree.

      Cheers,
      Uduak

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