Pop Music and Nigerian Political Marketing in 2023

These days, the biggest musicians do not need political money; 100 million streams across the foreign streaming platforms is enough income. There is also the side gig of performances at corporate events or at personal parties. These guys would hardly record a song endorsing a candidate.

But that’s just the biggest singers. Every other space in entertainment is still struggling and hence need some of that political money. In some cases, the fragmentation of industry means that few newly famous people have been made to ensure ROI for recruiting politicians looking for a widespread reach.

For example: If you give Destiny Etiko money, she’d reach her followers and some others on social media and those watching Asaba Nollywood. But she can’t really reach the guys who are devoted to the big screen.

If you recruit Adesua Etomi, you are cutting out the guys in small towns without cinema screens.

If you get Elma Mbadiwe, you are only courting web series devotees. As millenials and Gen Z become the major bloc of the voting public, these guys have to rethink publicity.

The point is political marketing in 2023 would be more complex than before. The complication of Covid-19 suggests that an Abacha-styled Youths Earnestly Ask for Abacha jamboree is a tricky thing to stage, even if you get enough famous faces willing to sell their brands for more than a fistful of dollars.

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This ordinarily should be good for the citizens of Nigeria as that vein of sentimentality politicians tap through famous beloved artists has been severed. Which ideally might mean that the actual work of our political parties and personalities would be the sole yardstick for election or reelection.

But the average Nigerian politician is a wily, people-defeating animal. They would rather be cunning than do any sort of work. So I imagine that the solution to the coming dilemma would be a much more enhanced strategy for stomach infrastructure.

Sure, the urban areas and the rich and the reasonably educated would get the lip service of posters, inane but catchy songs, as well as video ads — but a lot of the money would be going toward the poor, the not quite educated, and the relatively impoverished. It’s a game of numbers and the latter group is overwhelmingly more. Wittingly or unwittingly, they have made it so.

If Wizkid, Burna Boy, Davido, Tiwa Savage, etc change their minds, we’ll get those jingles. But this is where the effect of October 20 would come to play. None of those artists would back any politician currently in government. Nollywood, the perennially hungry sibling, might loan some of its stars. But the A- and B-list would likely refuse, leaving the other alphabets to grab what they can, if they dare.

In any case, as explained above, they aren’t going to be really useful to anyone seeking some kind of national clout. The leading skit makers would probably invite the relatively harmless politicians to a skit but once again, the fragmented media landscape would intervene. As with the spending politician, the skit maker would have to decide if it’s worth it. I suspect a decent percentage would answer in the affirmative.

The fragmentation would lead to a scramble to be everywhere at the same time. The only thing that would allow this happen is a lot of money a lot of the time. Where would they get it? Well, you can guess. And if it comes from elsewhere before the election, after the election it would come from the same place you have just guessed. There might be salvation for Nigeria someday. That day, though, is not 2023.

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Nigeria’s most acclaimed writer-reviewer.