This article is written in hopes that PepsiCo, an American multinational food, snack and beverage corporation headquartered in Purchase, New York, U.S.A, and manufacturer of Pepsi, a soft drink, makes it unequivocally clear its stance against any form of violence advocated against women by any of its brand ambassadors who openly and brazenly advocate such violence. In this instance, I believe strongly that such stance means the brand should pull the plug on the current endorsement deal it has with Nigerian recording artist, songwriter and performer Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun popularly known as Wizkid. Wizkid is a Pepsi ambassador for Africa.
While it is not uncommon to find that many in today’s Nigerian society believe it is acceptable to hit a woman, such belief is simply wrong and as of 2015, against the law. Further, even if majority of Nigerian society, in practice, still believe it to be acceptable, there is NO room for any brand representative of Pepsico and/or Pepsi to believe, advocate or encourage any form of violence against any woman.
It is one thing to have a social media spat or brouhahaha with a blogger or person you may not like. It is another thing to threaten violence against such person, a criminal act. Further, when you attach your name as a celebrity to a brand whose values are marketed as a direct opposite of what you advocate and you encourage violence, then such brand has a duty to step to the plate and openly divorce itself from you.
What are the facts?
Celebrity blogger Linda Ikeji blogged about an eviction notice that was served on Wizkid at his home in Lekki in Lagos, Nigeria. Wizkid had the choice to ignore the post like many celebrities do, and even if he does respond, never threaten violence. Instead, Wizkid, an unmarried man with a kid out of wedlock and another child allegedly fathered in the U.S., also out of wedlock, believed that he could marriage shame an unmarried successful gossip blogger, and worse threaten physical violence against her.
It can’t possibly be that PepsiCo and Pepsi, American brands, represent such values. Further, the CEO of Pepsico, Indra Nooyi, is a minority woman who has helped stir the company to success, the success of which Wizkid benefits from. Equally important, Pepsi has consistently aligned itself with women, and women brand ambassadors who are unequivocally clear that they vehemently oppose any form of violence against women: Beyonce Knowles, Mary J Blige (a victim of domestic violence), Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Katy Perry, and Shakira to name a few. It has also aligned itself with male brand ambassadors that also take the same stance: Elton John, David Beckham, Justin Timberlake, Bob Dylan to name a few.Therefore, Wizkid as a brand ambassador for Pepsi Africa does not get a pass to promote values that Pepsico and Pepsi have claimed in the past are inconsistent with its beliefs.
First, Wizkid’s advocacy or call for violence against another person is criminal and illegal both under U.S. (including New York) and Nigerian criminal penal codes. Until last year, Nigeria lacked uniform laws across its country that explicitly outlawed violence against women. In May 2015, Nigeria enacted the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act. The gender neutral law covers all persons and outlaws emotional, physical and economic violence. It defines violence as, “Any act or attempted act, which causes or may cause any person physical, sexual, psychological, verbal, emotional, verbal or economic harm whether this occurs in private or public life, in peace time and in conflict situations.”
Lest there be any confusion, the act is also explicit that any person who “willfully (intentionally) incites,aids, abets or counsels another to commit” violence against another person can be imprisoned for up to three (3) years or have to pay a fine not exceeding N200,000.00 or both.
Here, Wizkid is explicitly inciting (encouraging) and has said he will encourage his cousin to beat up a person who Wizkid dislikes and disagrees with, Linda Ikeji. In addition, his public and very brazen statement is an incitement, in my view, to his die hard fan base to do the same. There is no endorsement deal that can shield this Pepsi brand ambassador from the cowardliness and consequences of inciting and advocating violence against another person, in this instance, a woman. No contractual term or clause in any endorsement deal both on U.S. or Nigerian soil can shield a person who threatens an illegal or criminal act. Any attempt to do so in a contract is void as a matter of law in furtherance of sound public policy.
Second, Pepsi should pull the plug on Wizkid’s endorsement deal because he is brazenly encouraging and perpetuating a culture of violence against women. Pepsi permitting Wizkid to remain as an ambassador is Pepsi effectively sanctioning such violence. As it is, the statistics are grave when it comes to violence against women in Africa, including Nigeria.
For example, according to The Haven Wolverhampton website, an organization supporting women and children affected by domestic violence and homelessness, “A small-scale study conducted in the Lagos and Oyo states revealed that nearly 65 percent of educated women said they had been beaten by a partner, boyfriend or husband, while 56 percent of lower-income market women experienced similar violence.”
“Amnesty International calls Nigeria’s rate of domestic violence “shocking,” and has called on the local governments to do something to stem the violence.
“On a daily basis, Nigerian women are beaten, raped and even murdered by members of their family for supposed transgressions, which can range from not having meals ready on time to visiting family members without their husband’s permission,” says Stephane Mikala of Amnesty International. “Tragically, husbands, partners and fathers are responsible for most of the violence against these women.”
Third, Wizkid is no ordinary person. He is a highly influential artist with reach across the continent and in recent years has garnered international attention from artists such as Drake, Chris Brown and Trey Songz who have either collaborated or are looking to possibly collaborate with him. Pepsico and Pepsi must take a clear stance. Pepsi rakes in $63billion a year in revenue. Just a few days ago, its CEO wrote the Governor of North Carolina to repeal his alleged anti-gay laws. If Pepsi can take such a strong stance, it can certainly do so where violence against women is directly advocated by one of its own brand ambassadors. There is “no joy of Pepsi,” its tagline here in the states, when its own brand ambassador across the continent with reach in the U.S. advocates for violence against women. Pepsi must and should be unequivocally clear about its central message, divorce itself from this brand ambassador and send the appropriate directives to its local office in Nigeria to do the same.
Finally, it is also my strong belief that while PepsiCo and Pepsi take the mandatory action to distance the brands from this artist and his call for violence against a woman, Nigerian and African female fans, which make up a large demographic that buy Wizkid’s music, need to know they have power and speak with their pocket books. To tolerate and support an artist and label owner that continues to attack and disrespect women is simply unacceptable. His tactics have now graduated to threatening bodily harm against a woman, publicly. As an African woman, regardless of how great you think his music is, you should take a bold step and send a clear message to him, “violence against a woman will not be tolerated. I don’t care how special you think you or your music is.”
Please note to all women reading this and particularly fellow Nigerian women. It is highly irrelevant whether you like Linda Ikeji or not. It is also highly irrelevant that you think she engages in “selective journalism” in the publishing of her celebrity gossip stories or that her work as a blogger is not fitting or a respectable profession. That is simply not the legal standard where criminal acts or threats of this kind is concerned.
Linda Ikeji’s Blog Post that Generated a Reaction from Wizkid
Wizkid’s Response and Threat of Violence
Linda Ikeji’s Response to Wizkid
So my darling little ‘friend’ Wizkid came on my IG page this morning to blast me for writing yesterday that he was given quit notice at the Lekki home he claimed he bought some years ago, which he actually rented. He threatened to beat me up…called me an ugly old bitch…(I’m ugly? lol) says I don’t have a man (crying over that..) and called my mum a loser…(what a child).
Anyway, all that don’t matter, people have said worse to me…what I wanted to address is the part where he said I slept with his director and he left me in a hotel…that one I will definitely want to address because some people actually believe it. That my dear friends, is a lie! Please continue…
First and foremost, I’ve never met Wizkid one on one. I’ve only seen him once in real life on stage at a show a few years ago. I’ve never met anybody who is his director. Guess he put that line in his comments to defame me. You that mad that people now know the house is not yours? Lol.
Trust me, if I knew someone was Wizkid’s director, I’d rather kill myself than sleep with him or any other entertainer for that matter (except maybe he’s my husband..hehe) because I know how some of these entertainers are…they kiss and tell a lot. You can’t afford to be messing around in their circle. So, no, I have NEVER slept with Wizkid’s director. I live a celibate life..most of the time. (Though, that has to end soon…I’m getting old and missing out on that part of life…lol)
I’ve always been an advocate of women respecting their bodies and owning their own. And I feel sex should only happen when you’re in committed relationship (that is if you can’t wait till marriage) and I recommend celibacy for a long as you’re not committed to someone. There’s absolutely no dignity in sleeping around and messing around with different men. It’s ugly and God don’t like ugly. So no, I’m not that woman, and will never be that woman. Nice try, Wizkid!
Having said that, I’m sure, you wonder why Wizkid is so mad at me? To be honest, I don’t know either. All I know is that his beef with me started a long time ago but he decided to start bashing me online after I refused a meeting with him. A few months ago, he asked his PR people to contact me, that he wanted to talk to me. For some reason, he thought I didn’t like him and I was hurting his image online. He wanted to see how I could write more positive things about him but I turned down the meeting. Not that I have anything against him, I sincerely don’t! I think he’s an amazing talent and one of the few music stars in Nigeria with a midas touch. So this wasn’t personal. I just didn’t want to meet him. If he lobbies me then it means I won’t be able to write anything about him anymore…and my job is to write…about everything, including entertainers.
I am cordial with some of them…many of them I have never met. I try to stay away from gatherings where they are because the more friends you make in the entertainment industry, the less you can write. And that will inadvertently affect your work. The few ones that I call acquaintances, it’s hard to write about them because you feel you’re cool with them and even when you write, they call you to complain. So, the fewer ‘friends’ I have in the entertainment industry, the better my job will be.
So Wizkid can bash me all he wants…but I will continue to do my job. Maybe he thinks the more he bashes me, then I will stop writing about him? Won’t work. But meanwhile, if he tells a lie about me, I will address it. LIB plans to be around for a long time…some of these people will come and go! :-).
Thanks everyone and Wizkid fans for reading my response.
Oh and by the way, did I mention that his Porsche car is also on hire purchase? Oh shit, I just mentioned that! Lol. And no, darling, you’re not 25! We know your real age! Continue to have an amazing career while I watch and continue to celebrate you.
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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Ms. Uduak is also a Partner and Co-Founder of Ebitu Law Group, P.C. where she handles her law firm’s intellectual property law, media, business, fashion, and entertainment law practice areas. She has litigated a wide variety of cases in California courts and handled a variety of entertainment deals for clients in the USA, Africa, and Asia. Her work and contributions to the creative industry have been recognized by numerous organizations including the National Bar Association, The American University School of Law and featured in prestigious legal publications in the USA including ABA Journal and The California Lawyer Magazine.
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