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Nigerian Artists Abandoning The Arts For Politics

 KCEE oh why?
It’s less than two years to the 2019 Nigeria General Elections, and the country is warming itself up for the circus that comes with an election year
Plans are being concluded, deals are in the process of being struck all around the country, and political and PR machinery are being oiled to perfection for the long, drawn-out battle on many fronts.

There has been a growing campaign among the youths of the country for power to be handed to a younger generation who are disillusioned by the state of the country, under the governance of the current political elite. This call generated the popular ‘Not Too Young To Run Bill’, which the Nigerian senate just passed.

The much-anticipated bill, seeks age reduction for elective offices in the country. This now means Nigerian youths can contest for President at the age of 35 and Governor or Senators at the age of 30. It is a change from the initial 40 and 35 years limit respectively, which was mandated by the constitution.

The bill also stipulates that 25-year-old people, can now legislate in the National and State Assemblies across the country. Although it is yet to become law, Nigerian musicians are throwing themselves at the door of politics, seeking to serve in elected positions.

Singer Kcee, popularly recognized for his single ‘Limpopo’ appears to be gunning for the governorship position at his state level. According to posters which declare his intention, the gubernatorial election of Anambra state will have him running through the polls and probably doing that dance in his colourful outfits.
“I will submerge myself in the next coming months to seeking necessary counsel and support in achieving this goal,” the singer wrote on Instagram. “I encourage every youth and all of my fans to join this movement of contributing our quota to the rescue of this great nation.”

Terry G is another artist whose intention to contest has been made public. The singer born Gabriel Ochie Amanyi, intends to run in his home state, Benue. Based on his initial declaration, his entire manifesto is based on kicking out the ‘old cargoes’ from power.
“Power belongs to the youths,” he wrote. “Say no to old cargos...vote terry g for governor/deputy of benue state, I will make you proud. When I say legalize you say ginjah…"

I know many of you reading this don’t consider Kcee and Terry G serious candidates for any political position. You guys have made your stance and your doubts loud and clear. We hear you. But let’s imagine a world where Kcee and Terry G are genuine contenders for the positions. Let’s just for one moment put aside our overwhelming disbelief in their intentions, and consider them candidates for power.

How does this affect their music? How do musicians who become politicians get by in balancing their ambition with their art?
 
First, no musician in his prime will consider dropping that life for one of politics. A man with a hit song, with tour duties and huge sales figures is more likely to look inward for salvation, rather than risk it all for the people. In Nigeria, the people dance to the music and follow the creators of the art. That’s a level of influence that many artists within the country crave. When they get that, they achieve satisfaction.
 
The only creatives who would want an active part in politics are the ones with free time on their hands. Close your eyes and try to imagine Wizkid, Davido, or Phyno drop their pop blessings, put music on the backfoot, and decide to go chasing the toga of public servitude. Their mothers will be the first to go into deliverance sessions on their behalf.

That ball can only be played by artists with time on their hands, and not much to lose. Politics is a different career. It throws you into a 24/7 occupation that demands your time, money, and mind. There will be no space. The only music you can record and release in the heat of a campaign will be the soundtrack to your race.

Then there’s the entire desperation and violence that is a constant part of our country’s politics. Would our artists want to throw themselves into that world? Where deals are made with the devil, and the human conscience is simply decoration.

But away from holding political offices, artists can get involved with governance by utilising their positions to influence key decisions and speak for the people.

Through the years, several musicians and bands have utilised their music as a vehicle to express their political views and call for change. From Fela Kuti to African China, these artists use songs and performances to spark movements. As long as there are policies and issues to influence, these artists bands can keep making sure their voices get heard and inspire change. 

But the moment they cross that line, and declare their intentions for office, they seize to be musicians. They have abandoned the world of art for something darker, deadly, and ultimately corrupt.

Musicians and music consumers, should be making the future a brighter place. Artists don't have to be involved in politics, constantly campaigning for every cause and seeking to run for offices. No, but as human beings who depend on one another for societal balance and improvement of daily human experiences, we have a responsibility to play a part in governance.

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