July 22, 2022

Osun: The influencer as repellent

One day, one trouble

By Adekunle Adekoya

THE Osun State off-cycle governorship election, like that of neighbouring Ekiti, has come and gone, but the contestants are still dealing with the outcome. For the winner, it was the desired culmination.

For the major loser, who happens to be the incumbent, it is a bad dream, a political nightmare that has left him and the others wondering: what went wrong? From indications, Governor Gboyega Oyetola and his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, are going to be busy dealing with the outcome in the foreseeable future.

In the last days of electioneering, two parties: the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and APC put up spirited efforts aimed at swaying the electorate to their side. All kinds of influencers were being wooed to help ensure victory, including the use of artistes. The PDP didn’t have to look far at all: there is already a high-flying musician in the house by way of David Adeleke a.k.a. Davido, or OBO.

David’s father is the elder brother of the PDP candidate, Ademola Adeleke. A crowd-puller at concerts, OBO is a firebrand ticket if the objective is to sway the electorate. In addition to his generosity, he also belongs to the demographic belt that has now awakened to the realities of taking their destinies in their hands by getting their PVCs and coming out to vote.

Last year, Davido set the nation abuzz when he threw a challenge to his friends to “dash” him money. In less than 48 hours, he had generated more than N100 million, which later grew to more than N200 million in less than five days. Thanking his friends who responded, he added more money and donated all, a total of N250 million, to orphanages nationwide. He also set up a committee to do that. So, as far as influencers go, Davido had established himself and that includes countless brand ambassadorships and endorsement deals.

As a result, the competition has to respond. When I speak of the competition, I am talking of the ruling party, not the special purpose vehicles that some politicians use now and then to vent their frustrations with their previous platforms. Sure, the APC responded to the OBO challenge and selected one of the young stars that just grabbed attention, a fellow by the stage name, Portable, or Za-zo.

His real name is Habeeb Okikiola, and until about 48 months ago, was more or less unknown to the larger public outside the hip-hop and rap circle and cycle of artists. His rap hit, Za-zo, catapulted him into instant stardom and real money. Google puts his net worth at about $130,000. In naira terms, he is currently a multi-millionnaire.

Part of the payout from his first hit included a Range Rover SUV, which he crashed few weeks later. That is a snapshot of the artiste the APC chose to counter OBO. Not bad really; everybody deserves a place under the sun. We all need Vitamin D!

At the APC grand rally, the artiste was doing his thing and he pulled quite a crowd, including youths who were seeing him for the first time. Performing topless in Osogbo, he used the concrete piling at one of the roundabouts in town as stage. Atop the piling was mounted a bust of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

In the heat of performance, Portable dropped his trousers to his ankles and remained in his boxers. The sight of him, with his weird hairstyle, holding a microphone, with Awolowo’s bust behind him, presented a garish, repulsive spectacle. The picture, uploaded by netizens, went viral and triggered surprise and revulsion.

I am of the view that the spectacle might not have been such a turn-off if Awolowo’s bust was not there. After all, he had always performed mostly topless. By the way, does the crooner know who Awolowo was? Does he know what Awolowo meant to the generation of his grandfathers and grandmothers?

Or to the generation that fathered him? Does he know what Awolowo represented and still represents to the peoples of the South-West region? I doubt that. Chief Awolowo died in 1987, some 35 years ago. If Portable had been born before his death, he’d be a toddler then, and so, no memory of the late sage, worsened by the non-teaching of History in schools.

Just four days ago, the musician, whom the APC paid millions to perform for them turned round to mock the party in a video that has also gone viral. How did the APC get this wrong? The image of that musician dropping his trousers before the bust of Awolowo at that rally in Osogbo presented very bad optics for the party. It was simply odoriferous, if I can borrow from one bombast you all know.

Another viral video shows somebody that looks like him in a police cell, naked, howling like a lost member of a tribe of howler monkeys. It’s a lesson; whether in business or politics, rigour must attend the choice of who will be the influencer in a chosen activity. Politicians have a lot to learn from the world of marketing communications. In this case, the influencer became a repellent, at least in this one instance.