June 18, 2020

The shame in Naira Marley’s Abuja concert

COVID-19: Police arraign Naira Marley, Manager

WORLDWIDE, public figures like musicians, politicians, movie actors and other celebrities are icons of achievement in their fields of human endeavour. As a result, the successes they have achieved tend to impress others.

Indeed, many up and coming people try to mould their lives after these icons, and in fact adopt them as role models. Hence, they are figures people look up to, and are thus expected to be of good conduct at all times and in all places.

Here in Nigeria, we have our own share of icons, from the founding fathers of our nation to other celebrities. The younger generation, especially millennials also have theirs. Among musicians of that generation that commands quite a following is one Mr. Azeez Fashola, a.k.a Naira Marley.

This musician has been arrested and arraigned on a number of occasions for alleged criminal activities. He has on two occasions brazenly broken the coronavirus lockdown regulations.

Shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a total lockdown of Lagos, the epicentre of COVID-19, Naira Marley was one of those who attended a house party hosted by Nollywood diva, Funke Akindele, which got them arraigned before a mobile court.

But charges against him and two others were withdrawn after they agreed to sign undertakings to desist from repeating same. To the shock of most Nigerians, Naira Marley last weekend successfully chartered an aircraft and held a “drive-in” concert at the Jabi Lake Mall, Abuja, in flagrant violation of the ban on interstate travels, flights and such gatherings which attract large crowds.

Most of those who attended the concert showed no regard for the social distancing rule to curtail the pandemic which is now threatening to overwhelm our medical workforce.

What outraged Nigerians the most was that Naira Marley was able to hire the aircraft and get clearance to fly into Abuja from Lagos and back. He advertised and staged his all-night gig.

READ ALSO: Naira Marley to ExecuJet: We will stop using your useless airline for calling us useless

The police, security agencies and FCT Administration failed to act proactively.

It was only when videos of the concert appeared on the social media that the ensuing outrage woke up police and government officials who suddenly became overzealous.

This is indicative of systemic failure, a haemorrhaging by institutions of state such that they could not normally function as desired. Are we saying that such an event would have gone unchecked if the social media had not taken it up?

Against the background of several events that are still unfolding, those who say our system has collapsed appear to have a point. If not, how could law enforcement agents lie comatose from Lagos to Abuja? Even if he got to Abuja, how could the authorities there let the concert hold?

It was also under the lockdown that thousands of young men traveled in food, cement and cattle trucks to the South from the North.

Nigeria is in mortal danger from our malfunctioning system. President Buhari should rise and mount a rescue operation as a legacy for the administration that will succeed him. In any case, given the prevailing situation in the country, it is clear that the security architecture in place has failed us. We thus need a new one, and the urgency of that cannot be over-emphasized since no progress can be made in an atmosphere of spiralling insecurity as we have now.

We, therefore, call on all organs of the executive, judiciary and legislature to rise to this crisis with appropriate solutions.