Music Business

Why I Am “Very Critical” of D’Banj, Nigeria’s First Ever United Nations Youth Ambassador

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I received a public tweet on twitter asking whether I thought my AML articles were not “very critical?” The public tweet came from Ovie of NotJustOk (NJO), Nigeria’s #1 music portal.

In my response as I told him, I told him I presumed he was talking about D’Banj as that was the article I had just published at the time of his tweet. I agreed with Ovie I was “very critical” of D’Banj although the cadence of AML articles, in general, I hope, is thought provoking and where necessary critical with the exception of music tabs and general industry news, although it depends.

It was also the perfect time to make time to get to the article I have been meaning to write on my takeaway from the whole #OccupyNigeria strike. I wanted to approach it from a different angle. Now is the perfect time, however, to at the very minimum, focus squarely on D’Banj who serves as a main catalyst for wanting to write that article in the first place.

Let’s get into the gist of it shall we?

What’s really good with D’Banj? Why is NJO, with all due respect Ovie, and other similar sites just happy to play along and have never really called D’Banj out on his mess? Need I discuss the obvious conflict of interests?

Keeping it as real as real gets, AML is my personal journey and love affair with the law both as a lawyer and trial lawyer. The cases I discuss here reflect some of the legal issues I have had to deal with in my 10years of practicing law here in the United States. It also reflects my idealism of the kind of Nigeria I want my children and other Nigerian children to have, given that my passion for law stemmed while living in Nigeria.

The bulk of what makes me tick here on AML is any discussion about lawsuits or potential lawsuits. In my capacity as an attorney and also as a Journalist and Blogger, I am privy to a lot of private information. 100% of the time, I play dumb and keep communications made to me in confidence confidential. However, where certain stories that are not attorney-client privilege make it into the limelight, my journalism, blogging and legal critic and commentary hat comes on; especially where such stories involve legal connotations, irrespective of persons involved.

Now let’s get to what really ticks me off, to no end, about D’Banj and why I am “very critical” of the First Ever United Nations Youth Ambassador for Nigeria.

If there is one thing I am also very passionate about, it has to be working with young people. Both on a personal and professional level, I have worked with youths and intend to continue to do so. I resonate with youths and particularly youths from less privileged communities because I once was that youth. I understand what it feels like to not have a voice and I made a decision at an early age to be fearless; and to have a voice as well as lend my advocacy skills to those who are unable to fight for themselves.

“Youth” is a topic I tune into keenly, especially where leaders in Nigeria’s music industry purport to represent the voice of young people.

Mo’Hits Executive and artist D’banj is the FIRST EVER UNITED NATION’S YOUTH AMBASSADOR FOR NIGERIA. To date, it continues to be a flag he flies high and spreads around the globe. In a recent feature by Def Jam Africa, once again he was touted as UN Youth Ambassador for Nigeria.

Ambassador means he is the spokesperson for Nigeria’s youths. As the spokesperson for Nigeria’s youths he has to be held accountable where his actions fail and fall short of the role he has been crowned to play. D’Banj has showed nothing but reckless disregard for the feelings, concerns and issues faced by Nigeria’s youths. He particularly displayed that during the weeklong #OccupyNigeria strike and while many in the industry have given him a pass, especially media, I refuse to.

I remain unmoved that he is signed to Kanye West’s GOOD Music, will perform in New York this February with a concert anchored by Live Nation, and will perform at the BBC1Extra event. So what? What has that got to do with anything? I have shared his accomplishments on my neutral publishing platforms. But on this platform, I am saying, “D’Banj it is not business as usual. You are accountable to Nigeria’s youths in your capacity as the country’s first ever UN Ambassador for youths.”

I understand non-Nigerians read AML law and particularly industry heads within America’s music industry. For your benefit, let me lay the context so you all understand.

In 2011, Nigeria’s current President Goodluck Jonathan was one of the candidates running for office to be re-elected. Many within and outside of the music communities supported him. Of note was one of Nigeria’s leading record label artist, Storm 360’s, Sasha P who joined in support. In addition, Weird MC, an artist dubbed Nigeria’s first female rapper, also joined in supporting the President’s campaign. D’Banj along with Nollywood actress Genevieve Nnaji were also celebrities who campaigned for Goodluck.

D’Banj’s support was, however, of a very aggressive nature that intrigued me.

Elections were fast approaching April 2011 of that year. Months before the election, D’banj all of a sudden had been crowned Nigeria’s First Ever United Nation’s Youth Ambassador, if memory serves me well. Feel free for those in the know to tell me the exact date he was appointed. Hmm . . . It was awfully suspicious. Nevertheless, many, myself included, granted him deference and publicized this accomplishment. See an excerpt from his press release I received.

“Our time is a youth targeted initiative put together by United Nations Youth Ambassador D’banj.

D’banj is a leading artist and entrepreneur in Nigeria.

D’banj has formally announced in a press conference on the 2nd of February, that he will be leading a group of artists in Nigeria, with the support of icons and professionals to engage Nigerian Youths in the ongoing voters registration.

While various organizations have been formed to support this cause, this is the first time in Nigerian Entertainment History, that artists have formed a coalition, to encourage the Youth of Nigeria to register to vote, vote, and have a voice in the future of Nigeria. . . ”

Next, D’Banj stunned the nation when President Goodluck refused to grant an interview to Youth journalists but granted it to D’Banj. Folks, think of Rihanna here in the USA interviewing President Barack Obama and you get the picture of what it felt like for most Nigerians. There was outrage across the country. I defended D’banj’s right to interview the President. While his music and overall persona has been nothing short of one full of sexual innuendos that make it hard to take him seriously, I didn’t think it precluded an actual interview if he connected with the youths, as he did. I was one of the lone voices to do so.

Finally, D’Banj used his influence and power to remix one of his hit singles and pushed youths to vote for the President. It remains unchallenged by D’Banj that he received money from President Goodluck Jonathan in exchange for supporting his campaign. Ethically, from where I sit, this is wrong. But, it appears Nigerians have a different standard as to how the political climate works. Can you imagine Beyonce, Rihanna etc. receiving money from President Barack Obama to campaign for him?

Nevertheless, I told artist Eedris Abdulkareem to take a chill pill when he provocatively said “God go punish you D’Banj” for taking money from Goodluck. I felt D’Banj was yet to emerge to talk to the youths he represents as an ambassador on his role in cajoling their votes; and needed to be given the opportunity to do so.

As you all know or should know, Goodluck stunned the nation when he gave Nigerians a New Year gift they did not ask for, the removal of fuel subsidy. I supported this move but maintained the timing was off and it was cruel to do so the way it was executed. Overnight, Nigerians saw fuel prices go from 65Naira to 141Naira.

By January 9th, 2012, a nationwide protest commenced. Where was Nigeria’s First Ever United Nation’s Youth Ambassador? He was busy shooting his ‘Oliver Twist’ video, the content of which has everything to do with “yansh” and nothing to do with being accountable to Nigeria’s Youths as Nigeria’s first ever Youth Ambassador for encouraging, pushing and asking them to vote for Goodluck Jonathan in his capacity as Youth Ambassador.

During the strike, D’Banj’s team, through Sesan Ogunro, tweeted that he was shooting his music video, at the time. This sent anger all over the webspace and offline as youths demanded he show up and have something to say about his role or his stance. D’Banj remained hidden.

Sasha P, Weird MC took a stance, despite pushing for the election of Goodluck. Even Nnaji remained resolute in her support of the President but said she categorically disagreed with the timing of his fuel removal subsidy and its execution. Where was D’Banj, the actual United Nation’s First Ever Nigerian Youth Ambassador? He was hiding!

A day after Goodluck Jonathan sends the military to deter Nigerians from continued protests and the Labor Union officially called off the nationwide strike, D’Banj emerged fully loaded on NJO with his promotional campaign. As I indicated to Ovie, I was disappointed NJO did not wait on the publishing an announcement of D’banj’s concert and also his numerous video clips from an exclusive interview he conducted in the UK. D’Banj and Mo’Hits have had a very close relationship with NJO. But, from a publisher perspective and given the gravity of the political climate and the fact that D’Banj had hid through the strikes, the marketing and promotions could have waited.

With high disregard for those he owes an obligation to, Nigerian youths, he gave UK his attention and continued with business as usual. This is NOT okay and I am absolutely okay with being the lone voice that calls out “the nonsense”.

We are approaching one month and yet D’Banj and the Mo’Hits camp are yet to issue an official press release addressing his role as First Ever United Nation’s Youth Ambassador, his lack of accountability, irrespective of his position on the matter, during the #OccupyNigeria strike. His own fans and Nigerian youths have been clear that they want this from him.

Yet, the same D’Banj and Mo’Hits team were quick, within twenty four hours, to inform the press that Kelly Hansome had been arrested and in police custody for an alleged stealing of their music, a remix of 2Face’s ‘Feeling Good’ featuring D’Banj.

D’Banj owes Nigeria’s youths an explanation regardless of what stance he takes. To ignore them and continue with business as usual is not only painful for the many that have spoken but is also painful for me to watch. I don’t care how other people run their business but as one who first promoted D’Banj in the USA, from my media platform, with his first exclusive interview in the USA and have continued to do so for 4years on my multiple platforms, I want to see him, for once, not be so reckless with the feelings of the people who helped him get to the top, Nigeria’s youths.

It is highly embarrassing that a youth ambassador is that out of touch and does not care about the youths, yet he continues to claim the title.

Live Nation cannot replace Nigerian youths, American/European fans cannot replace Nigerian youths. At the end of day, D’Banj is a child of Africa and an ambassador for youths. He will not tour the world forever, he can’t. He cannot guarantee he will always be a musician. There will most likely be a need to evolve and renegotiate new relationships within and outside the music industry. When that time comes, people will remember.

I, for one, will if he continues to ignore the voice of Nigerian youths, those he purports to represent. As the First Ever United Nations Youth Ambassador for Nigeria, it is non negotiable for him to ignore that glaringly the voice of Nigeria’s youths.

Don Jazzy I know you read AML and I have received your email complimenting me in the past. Get your team together, get your business partner D’Banj and send out an official release where he tackles this issue, once and for all.

Ovie, thanks for the tweet. It allowed me to finally make the time to get this out.

-Uduak oduok

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AFRICA MUSIC LAW™ (AML) is a pioneering music business and entertainment law website, livestream and podcast show empowering the African artist and Africa's rapidly evolving entertainment industry through its brilliant music business and entertainment law commentary and analysis, industry news, and exclusive interviews.

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ABOUT THE FOUNDER

Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at https://msuduak.com.

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4 Comments

  1. cool says:

    @the writer,u write up may sound convincing according to the way u have drafted it but u must understand that this write up is based on ur interpretation.However,we are all entitled to our opinions.I am a youth and i vehemently disagree with some of ur points stated here.D’banj is definitely not the first to sing abt girls in his songs and wld undoubtedly not be the last so really,ur stating those words of urs is very irrelevant here as none of them is innocent of that fact.D’banj may not have protested like many wanted him to but we all shld realize that there are so many ways to show care and love for the masses asides protesting on the streets.He and many others campaigned for Jonathan,i personally don’t see any offence in that at all.Despite ur emphasis on first ever youth ambassador for peace blah blah alongside his not protesting doesn’t make him any less a good individual.I myself wld not wine and dine with someone and publicly go back to stab the same person in the back.However,u must kno that he did not keep mute on the matter.He did express his displeasure abt the fuel issue and emphasized the pains the masses wld go thru in the event of the fuel price having to stay!D’banj is a very great individual with a very good heart and is a very very devoted charity giver and i therefore totally disagree that he remained or better still remains unmoved by the plight of the less priviledged!The fact that he did not pertake in the protest doesn’t mean he shld be condemned.As regards the Oliver Twist song which i noticed u condemned,i equally see that as unnecessary!When D’banj wants to be serious,he sure is serious and when he decides to go comical,he sure is excellent at that too.U need to equally look at the issue frm another point of view and make an effort to be less critical.Ur criticisms don’t equate to evryone supporting ur motion.Ofcourse,D’banj is not always right but that doesn’t mean he shld be totally crucified all in the name of GEJ,the campaign and protest.I have personally been inspired by many of his songs such as ‘Celebrate’,Mobolowowon,Loke Loke and a few others.Pls let D’banj be.Many of us are tired of the emphasis of his not protesting etc.D’banj did not go against his words as regards motivating ppl to register and pertake in the elections so i also disagree with u on that.There’s no law that also states that one cannot sing for a presidential aspirant so i see no offence in that at all.Lemme ask u,if GEJ ended up doing something positive,wld u sit and write all these against D’banj for campaigning for him?Evrything in life is a risk as no one,inclusive of D’banj had the slightest clue abt any fuel price hike.I wld still conclude by emphasizing that u shld let D’banj be.

    1. Thank you for your comment.

      The issue is not about D’Banj protesting. All of my writings including the one you have read have never mandated he protest.

      Further, D’Banj’s charity and personal foundations have no bearing on his role as a UN Ambassador for the youths of a nation. Comparing both is like comparing apple and oranges. One is a personal endeavor. The other is a global initiative of which he is a leader for an entire country of 150million people full of its young people which make up a large percentage.

      There is no getting around this issue, either way you view it. There are duties that come with a role as a UN Ambassador for youths and many youths off and online have spoken resoundingly about their immense disappointment in his actions during the #OccupyNigeria strike, and the lack of communication with them.

      I understand your passion for him. I too think, overall, he is a good man and he is trying to do the best he can with what he has. I realize the tremendous pressure that comes from being in the limelight and the numerous obligations that can flow from it. Mistakes are amplified and good deeds seem to go unnoticed.

      I, for one, have amplified many things positive about D’Banj and his brand and will continue to do so. But, I also call out things that I believe needs fixing and are glaringly wrong as in this case. Obviously I expect that many will disagree with me. I make my living as a lawyer off people disagreeing with my positions or me disagreeing with their positions. I am comfortable with people disagreeing with me so long as they do not heap insults at me or my readers/audience.

      Your comment is appreciated. Your dissenting opinion also appreciated.

      Thanks!

      Cheers,
      Uduak

  2. cool says:

    @Uduak,many thnx for appreciating my comment but i must quickly state that i emphasized his good works whether or not its a personal motive b’cos u seemed to be critically destructive as a whole towards him by emphasizing that u thought or still think he was insensitive to the plight of the masses and/or the less priviledged.Thats the exact reason i had to state that in his defence ‘cos wot i have noticed in life is that the moment one makes a mistake either intentionally or unintentionally,we are all quick to critically destroy or mar the images of whoever in question esp famous individuals.U may not have categorically stated that u had a problem with him protesting or not,but trust me u have indirectly stated it according to the way u drafted ur initial write up.However,if u were in D’banj’s shoes as at that time of the subsidy issue,u jus may not have done better or acted better than he did likewise myself.Agreed,everyone is subject to criticism but i wld appreciate if we are slightly constructive in our criticisms particularly b’cos we cannot always predict ourselves/our actions in situations at all times.D’banj is a man and a real man who stood by his decision by not regretting his campaign or his vote for Jonathan b’cos in life,u shldn’t regret decisions u make,u only learn frm them and move on.Despite that,he undoubtedly felt the pains of the masses even though some ppl were unsatisfied with his comment on the issue.Diplomacy rules in this life and as a lawyer that u are Ma,i bet u wld concur with me.However,in that respect,i wld even take D’banj over Don Jazzy for the mere fact that he (D’banj) stood by his past decision as regards Jonathan and at the same time,genuinely felt and still feels the pain of the masses as opposed to Don Jazzy who outrightly stated that he regretted his decision.However,the price hike in fuel may seem like an unpleasant decision but i honestly think we shld also give the Govt a chance.Furthermore,the issue of D’banj taking Kelly Handsome or whoever to court over alleged copyright infringement or whatever,happened last Oct which was approx 3 mths before the fuel subsidy issue as opposed to u stating that he was busy doing that during the strike period.I wld appreciate it Ma if u kindly confirm ur reports before posting as ur write up has or better still,wld spread faster than u can imagine,thereby tarnishing his image.Am human and i like to put myself in some ppl’s shoes before concluding.Also,Oliver Twist is clearly a musical comedy and if u sit back and listen to the wordings word for word,u wld agree that D’banj was clearly comical.Personally,i appreciate that ‘cos life truly shldn’t be that serious all the time.Music is very complex and satisfies ppl in different ways and manner.I don’t dispute that u have one or two points but i wld advise that we all shld be less harsh with our sentence construction/choice of words.Anyone who reads ur write up without thinking twice would without a doubt condemn D’banj.He cld be ur brother or son and i bet u wldn’t like it if such criticisms are directed at any of ur relations.Pls make an effort to be less critical on him despite stating ur points and God bless u as u do so Ma.Many thnx!

    1. I disagree with all you have said and your inaccurate characterizations of some of my key premise. But, I find it pointless to further engage on this particular discussion with you. I have said all I needed to say, plus my article is pretty straight to the point and supported by what I believe to be sound reasoning.

      Thanks for your input!

      Cheers,
      Uduak

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