“If u know about slavery u go know say yahoo no b crime,” Naira Marley, a Nigerian artist said just over a week ago, basically justifying internet fraud in 2019 as a sort of response to slavery.
Naira Marley was bold enough to support that criminality because he knows there won’t be consequences. He knows it; everyone knows it. It’s one of those situations where it’s easy to remark, “Only in Nigeria.” And you’ll be right.
Consider this statement from Reebok in 2013: “While we do not believe that Rick Ross condones sexual assault, we are very disappointed he has yet to display an understanding of the seriousness of this issue or an appropriate level of remorse.”
What did Rick Ross say to warrant it? He said: “Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it, I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.” Molly is a slang term for MDMA, a common date rape drug.
That’s all it took for Reebok to rightfully severe ties with him and that’s just one example of many occasions where brands have had to cut endorsement deals because of a serious misstep on the part of an artist they endorsed. The brands understand that endorsement deals are two-way; a sort of co-branding. If one party is tainted, the both are.
But not in Nigeria.
The reason our musicians are able to freely condone fraud and get away with it is because the brands which endorse them always turn a blind eye when it matters. These musicians will still have their concerts sponsored by the brands. It doesn’t matter.
Last February, it was Tuface Idibia who defended yahoo boys on Instagram with the same idiotic argument Naira Marley made. “We are trying to recover our forefathers’ money,” he said. This is the same Tuface who is showcased before elections as some sort of model for good behavior.
Last year, DJ Enimoney, Slimcase, Reminisce, and Tiwa Savage came together to irresponsibly proclaim, “On a codeine diet. Slow down! On a codeine diet.” These people were using their significant platforms to shamelessly promote the ingestion of codeine which is an epidemic currently ravaging Nigeria as reported by the BBC here. What happened afterwards? Nothing. Tiwa Savage is still a Pepsi Ambassador, Reminisce is still with Samsung and so on.
Olamide found Naira Marley’s post funny and even liked the post positing that fraud isn’t a crime. This is the same Olamide whose 2018 hit, Science Student, was basically a glorification of drugs.
Davido defended Naira Marley, claiming “Nobody holy pass.” The said Naira Marley may probably secure a few endorsement deals in the near future and we’ll go on pretending all is well. The brands will go on telling us how they love Nigeria and Nigerians because supporting positions that destroy Nigerians is all part of the love, I suppose.