by Yemi Adamolekun
Without any fan fare, a BBM broadcast, followed by a blog post and shortly thereafter an official tweet announced an interview between the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and D’banj, the entertainer. The target audience responded quickly and vocally.
Without knowledge of the facts that led to the interview, neither being sure if it was live or recorded, most thought something was amiss. For the last few weeks, under the banner of #Whataboutus, young Nigerians, particularly on social media platforms, have called for a debate between 6 of the 19 presidential candidates. The 6 were chosen through an online and SMS poll that ran for almost 3 weeks, so there was nothing random about the selection. 4 have accepted to participate – Nuhu Ribadu, Dele Momodu, Pat Utomi and Chris Okotie. Muhammadu Buhari and President Goodluck Jonathan are yet to accept.
While a few urged that comments be kept until after the interview, overwhelming feedback was that if the PDP Campaign Team thought an interview with D’banj would substitute for the debate that had been requested, they should think again. So, 8:30 pm on STV, we would see.
Prelude to the interview was an advert for the Jonathan/Sambo ticket, followed by a video for a D’banj campaign jingle (a twist on one of his popular songs) and then an advert for a concert featuring some of Nigeria’s leading young artistes, hosted by D’banj of course, for Friday, March 25th. Incidentally, this is the same date as the debate; in the same city and about the same time.
The taped interview, with text graphics, was about 20 minutes long, with the D’banj jingle playing as background music. D’banj, wearing his trademark sunglasses, asked 3 questions, none of which was a follow-up to the previous one; nodded throughout the interview and did not ask Mr President to clarify any of his statements.
The interview started with D’banj introducing himself as a representative of the youth and an ‘emissary’ of sorts to ask Mr President what he has planned for young Nigerians. As a young Nigerian, seen as a role model with a significant fan base, this was a significant coup for D’banj. Nevertheless, it is a well-known fact that D’banj’s chosen candidate in the upcoming presidential elections is Mr President, so an unbiased ‘interview’ is impossible. Furthermore, given the fact that he was representing young Nigerians, it would have been nice for D’banj to tell young Nigerians that he’s going to see Mr President on our behalf and ask what we would like to know.
The interview ended with D’banj encouraging those in the diaspora to come back to Nigeria to join the ‘transformation train’. I won’t discuss the questions nor the responses. Let’s call a spade a spade. The Mr President-D’banj exchange was an advert for Mr President, nothing more, nothing less. Let’s just take it as that and move on. When the ‘interview’ is sliced and diced with the D’banj jingle as the soundtrack, it would even get more mileage! The PDP Campaign Team should just be very clear that an advertorial with an unabashed fan of Mr President will NOT be considered as Mr President addressing youth issues or engaging the youth.
As a certain demographic of young Nigerians, we accept that we have not been active in Nigerian politics, but this year we are standing up for naija and saying enough is enough of the rhetoric; we are rolling up our sleeves and getting involved, because we know we will quench if we do not vote wisely!
So, young Nigerians in and outside Nigeria are still asking Mr President to join the other 5 candidates that have been selected by young Nigerians for a conversation on Friday, March 25th at the Yar’Adua Center in Abuja at 7 pm.
See you there!