On the 5th of May, American rapper and comedian Donald Glover, sparked conversations around the internet when he released the video for his song “This is America”. The song brought to light most of the struggles African Americans have been battling such as racism, gun violence, police brutality and the distractions that have been put in place to steer them away from the real issues.
Many Nigerians debated back and forth on different social media platforms after the song release, citing how Nigeria goes through its own struggles and blindfolds itself from the harsh realities of the nation.
It was in this vein, that Rapper and Actor Folarin Falana (popularly known as “Falz the Bahdguy”) who has never been one to shy away from giving a voice to societal problems, created a parody of the song titled “This is Nigeria”. This is Nigeria brings to light several problems plaguing us as a nation; corruption, drug abuse, police brutality, dependence on fake pastors, cybercrime and many other appalling situations. Below is a break down on some of the major issues which Falz pointed out in his video and the message Nigerians should carry from it.
WE ARE DISTRACTED FROM THE REAL ISSUES
The video starts with a chaotic background full of the issues Nigeria faces such as killing carried out by a Fulani man, violence amongst youth and the destruction of property. Meanwhile, girls in hijab (probably a reference to the Dapchi/Chibok girls and other girls held captive by Boko Haram) are performing the famous shaku shaku dance.
Source: Google Images
Falz drives his point home through artistic visual explanation. Amidst all the troubles and chaos going on in the country, only a few are bothered about the real issues. We are more interested in the latest dance moves and other trends that the media feeds us instead of standing in solidarity and lending a helping hand to bring an end to the menace.
Falz also goes further to use himself as a reference point, saying ,“because I am on TV now, person dey check to see if my watch is original”. We are in an era where we get carried away with the glamour and beauty of celebrity lifestyle and gossip. For example, the popular show, “Big Brother Naija” gained a lot of clout and commentary around social media platforms and people were emotionally connected to the show for the whole season while a blind eye was turned towards the chaos of the nation.
THERE IS NO FORM OF ACCOUNTABILITY “Where that madam Philomena, money vanish for your office 36million, you talk say na animal.”This was in reference to the infamous JAMB office saga in Benue state where 36million naira suddenly got missing and the office clerk in question (Philomena) blamed a mysterious snake for spiritually swallowing the money from the vault. This story quickly circulated media platforms but was mostly turned to a joke and was no sooner forgotten. Arrests were never made and the mystery behind the missing money is yet to be solved.
This lack of accountability drives deep into the political offices of Nigeria and Falz didn’t fail to outline this when he said; “This is Nigeria, we never end recession oh, but looters and killers are still contesting election oh, Politicians wey thief some billion and billion, he no dey go prison oh…” It will be recalled that in the build-up to the 2015 general elections, the APC government campaigned under the idea of “change” with promises to tackle corruption and jail looters. Since assumption of office, all the leaders have done is talk cheap and produce meagre results. For example, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed released a looters list that contained ex government officials like Femi-Fani Kayode, Olisa Metuh, Uche Secondus and so many more but it ended at that. No further action was taken and these men are still roaming the streets.
Also, many Nigerians have cited that President Buhari ran his electoral campaign based on funds from corrupt APC leaders such as Rotimi Amaechi and others. A number of funds have gotten missing under Buhari’s government such as N18 billion IDP intervention funds and N10 billion NHIS funds so he has no moral grounds to fight corruption.
#Diezianigate broke the internet in 2016 where it was alleged that $115 million campaign slush funds, was provided by the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dieziani Allison Madueke, to use in carrying out campaign activities for PDP. Till this moment, no concrete arrest or conviction has been made. Some of these so-called looters and killers are being celebrated and are even showing interest in contesting for elections on different political platforms. This shows that our leaders are not accountable to anybody. It also goes without mention that those in power have spent more time blaming previous administrations instead of proffering solutions to them.
“Police station dey close by 6, security reason oh” The police have been charged with the duty of maintaining law and order in the society by providing security to the citizens but they are often caught giving away comments like “the cell and station must be closed by 6, for security reasons” What should the citizens do in a society where the police are more bothered about their own security and safety?
THE CHURCH vs. THE PEOPLE AND THE TRUTH
There are churches whose focus is on teaching the word of God and winning souls for the Kingdom, as mandated. However, the challenge of false preachers and the effect on the Church cannot be overlooked as these leaders create a system that exploits and misleads the public. It is unfortunate because the Church has become a support system that many people have come to depend on instead of fixing their hope directly on God.
A common instance is where a pastor tells his members that their “miracle” is coming forth and instead of the people putting in work, they sit and fold their arms waiting for the miracle to happen. Falz makes a reference to this in the song where a pastor says, “My brothers and sisters, I want you to put your hands up because your miracle is coming this week. If you believe me let me hear you say amen”
Promises of unlimited breakthroughs and miracles have become a yardstick for gaining new members. It is unfortunate that most of the churches in existence don’t have any intention for the spiritual growth and development of their members.
“Praise and worship we singing now, Pastor puts his hand on the breast of his member, he is chasing the demon out”. These lyrics explain to an extent, the level of sexual harassment and abuse that takes place in the Nigerian church in the name of casting out demons. Pastors or prophets hold private sessions with their members in the name of counselling and they end up molesting some of their members.
A few years ago in South Africa, a Nigerian pastor was arrested for sexually molesting over 30 girls. These are the false prophets whom people follow blindly without trying to check for themselves the truth. Many are attracted to the glamorous life these false men lead them to believe through sweet words and blatant lies.
LACK OF EMPLOYMENT AND INFRASTRUCTURE
“No electricity daily oh, your people still working multiple jobs, they talk say we lazy oh” Nigeria is still facing a major infrastructure problem 57 years after gaining independence. Electricity is still as bad as it has always been despite numerous promises from the federal government and the privatisation of the “Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN)”. For this reason, a lot of Nigerians still need to rely heavily on the small generators popularly known as “I better pass my neighbour” for the day to day running of their homes and businesses.
It is impossible not to mention that unemployment rates have sky rocketed and those with jobs usually take on additional work in order to sustain themselves and their families. In 2016, Benue state Governor, Samuel Ortom declared Fridays a work free day for workers so that they could take time to work on their farms at a subsistent level. When asked why he made such a decision, he cited difficulties in coming up with enough money to pay civil servants in the state.
Instances like this are what stirred up negative reactions from youths when President Buhari went on international television to say that Nigerian youths are lazy and are sitting down at home waiting for oil money. It was a sad comment considering the harsh realities plaguing the nation.
Source: Google Images
“Fulani herdsmen still dey slaughter, carry people dey massacre”. The Herdsmen killings have been going on for years but this year, the killings spread out to six villages in Guma and Logo local government area of Benue state on New Year day. This attack led to the loss of lives and properties on a massive level and rendered a lot of people homeless. The attack seemed to be retaliation to the enactment of the anti-grazing law in the state with constant threats from the Myetti Allah group. They have gone further to carry out attacks in other states such as Taraba and Nassarawa. In Benue, a catholic church was attacked and 15 people were killed including the reverend fathers as referenced in the video.
Unfortunately, the federal government has been slow in dealing with the matter and only few people have been arrested. The killings keep getting worse with no value or regard for the Nigerian life.
DRUG ABUSE AND CYBERCRIME (YAHOO YAHOO)
“This is Nigeria, drugs in my area”. In some cuts of the video, we see boys moving around and sipping codeine. Drug abuse has become one of the major problems that Nigerian youths are battling with today. It is unfortunate that this has been going on for years and it took a major BBC documentary to shine a light on the harm these drugs have done to the youth. This led the government to ban the sale of these drugs without proper prescription from a doctor. Yet, the ban is not enough as some clinics still go ahead to sell illegally to their faithful customers. The government is yet to provide a more workable solution to the epidemic.
“Yahoo yahoo don tear everywhere now and we act like it’s so cool” Cybercrime is at an all-time high in the country at the moment. The famous yahoo yahoo plus business has become the hope of a lot of youth in Nigeria. They have watched their peers step out in the latest clothes, ride flashy cars and date beautiful women. A lot of businesses especially in the entertainment industry are built via heavy yahoo connections. Because of this, artists on different occasions celebrate these cyber criminals when they put out music. It has become cool for people to praise these criminals forgetting that they are simply “thieves with laptops”.
On the 11th of may, the EFCC busted the famous Club 57 lounge in Lagos and arrested 12 internet fraudsters even though a lot of them abandoned their exotic cars and fled the scene. Citizens however took it the wrong way, blaming the EFCC for letting politicians slide while coming for young men just trying to feed their families. Falz has never been one to shy away from his criticism of these groups of people and he also addressed them in a song on his last album (Confirm ft. Sir Dauda). Blogger, Noble Igwe recently lent his voice to this same cause on Twitter but was met with negative reactions from most of the populace, hence the line “casting the P (problem) and being castigated, just for trying to be Noble”
SARS AND #ENDSARS
“SARS stop you for road any explanation, you go talk am for station” The Special Anti-Robbery Squad popularly known as SARS has come under heavy scrutiny from the public. A lot of citizens took to Twitter late last year to narrate their tales of struggle under the special police unit. Stories of threats, beatings and extortion of the highest order were told by Nigerians and it was clear by the stories that this police unit has transformed itself into something far from its obligation to protect lives and properties.
The video shows where a student and his friends are returning from a night out and because they don’t have ID cards, they are taken to the station and locked up. One of the boys whose father has money and connections comes and bails his son while the others with no bail money are left to suffer in the cell. This is why the ad-libs at the beginning of the video captures the reality of Nigeria. Falz dad, Femi Falana says in the song “ it’s clear that the rich will have their way so many criminal cases are settled in police stations”.
This led to citizens demanding the government to have a review of the various complaints laid by citizens concerning the SARS. There was also a demand for the unit to be terminated completely from the police force. This was done using the #ENDSARS tag but to this day, government has paid no mind to the threats made by SARS.
In less than four minutes, Falz has brought to our attention the different levels of issues plaguing us as a nation. Unfortunately, these are the same things the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti warned us about in his music back in the 80s and we failed to listen. Falz has brought to us a similar message based on the contemporary problems we are tackling as a nation in this millennial era.
This year, we celebrate 19 years of democracy and 58 years of independence. Most of the problems stated above do not represent the ideals of a true democratic nation. Falz was just the messenger of an important political statement. It is left for us to listen, digest and reflect on what we have just heard and come up with ways to steer forward.