Lo, this ‘Jungle Don Mature’ By Louis Odion, FNGE

Tuface Idibia…The Man who chickened out of his own project at the very last minute

It would sound a perfect ad
 to his most overly political song yet, “E be like say”. With a single
Instagram anti-establishment post a fortnight ago, Nigerian pop
star, Innocent Idibia (aka 2Face), stampeded the nation
into what some, given the timing, began to fear might finally usher our
own Arab Spring.
His lamentation on social media was
arguably prosaic of the biting poetry of the old song, “E be like say”, with this punchline:

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They think money gives them
“But power is nothing if your
people can’t get quality education
“Power is nothing if your
people keep dying of diseases and starvation
“Power is nothing if your people have no peace, no peace
“Power is nothing if your
people can’t live in unity

Tuface Idibia….Good with the Music bad with the Protest

To say 2Face’s Instagram jeremiad sensationally altered the lilt of public
conversation on the national condition would be restating the obvious.
Momentarily, he captured our imagination. It was now 2Face’s project, even though the protest march was originally
conceived by an advocacy group, EiE
(Enough Is Enough). 
Not only the civil society became
energized, even the authorities, for once, seemed in disarray. The police found
themselves in an embarrassing situation having to issue a statement
contradicting an earlier position in order to align themselves with the thoughtful
and obviously progressive standpoint of both the presidency and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) that
people’s right to protest was inalienable. 
But just after the nation began to
spin in a dizzying frenzy of expectation came 2Face’s dramatic volte face that the historic march could no longer
proceed out of new security concerns that hoodlums might hijack the procession.

IG Idris….The man who dazzled ‘African Queens’ before Tuface’s eyeballs

Without him, the marchers still
trooped out simultaneously in Lagos
and Abuja with the likes of Charly
Boy, Omoyele Sowore and Chidi Odinkalu venting public anger powerfully. 
By all standards, it was a
successful outing. So, it would seem 2Face’s
fears were grossly exaggerated, if not utterly unfounded. On the contrary, to
invert the title of another popular song of his, “Jungle Don Mature” for a national eruption.
Sahara Reporters founder, Omoyele Sowore cashed on the hype and made history
Predictably, that eleventh hour
somersault has drawn on the crooner a rain of barbs in the public space. The Sun cartoonist (Albert Ohams)
jabbed on Tuesday with a depiction of a towering Police Inspector
General teasing a little 2Face that
national protest “is not like making
His counterpart in The
joined more hilariously on Wednesday suggesting he softened
probably after the IG plied him with
some “African Queens”. 

A long forgotten Charly Boy launched himself back into prominence with the aborted ‘Tiface Protest’

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We need not crucify 2Face for that. Those who expected him
to stand up to the IG’s intimidation
would seem to equate him to the likes of immortal Fela. But the young man from Benue,
on account of his pedigree, certainly lacks the depth and breadth – therefore,
the political sophistication – to have acted differently. 
By barging into the protest jungle
musically from his accustomed pleasure zone, he was obviously punching above
his weight. It was all reflected in his wearied look in the video message on
Instagram Saturday evening announcing his withdrawal.
With cloudy eyes, caked lips and froths in the
mouth-corners, it was evident
the ordinarily happy-go-lucky minstrel had carried his ritual
offering past the proverbial mosque’s door post.

Louis Odion, the Author felt bad for Tuface even though he described the Hip-Hop Music Icon a good mannered individual

As he usually
croons, “No be small thing o!”.

Otherwise, it requires very little
political astuteness these days to read the national
mood correctly against the backcloth of the rising misery index. It
was, therefore, the height of naivety on Idibia’s part to assume that the clouds already loaded over
the nation could, with a mere sleight of hand or a tepid Instagram
post for that matter, be dispelled so casually from unleashing
a downpour. 
Rather than ignite something he
could not finish thereby bringing himself
embarrassment, perhaps 2Face
should have limited himself to his accustomed musical arena. He
could, for instance, have composed a single speaking to the moment.
Like his older colleague,

Lagbajaonce refused to take money given to him by PDP for a performance because he feels they killed his hero, Bola Ige

, whose recent “Never Again!” is
a blistering put-down of Buhari.
(I wager that will be the opposition anthem in the elections ahead.)

Also, the punches could have been
delivered effectively by tweaking or adapting “E Be Like Say”. Or, the opportunity of a mega concert
dubbed “Eargasm” (ha!)
billed for Lagos tomorrow (hopefully to be transmitted live on cable
TV), for which he is listed as the star entertainer, could be parlayed to
detonate a dynamite. 
Taken together, the key lesson of
this episode should not be lost. The volcanic possibilities of two
powers: social media and celebrity magic. While the
former provided the platform to galvanize the youths ahead of the
protest, there is no denying that more sparks came the moment 2Face entered the arena. 
This is why, regardless of his
last-minute cold feet, I believe we still owe the singer some credit for
the popularity the idea quickly assumed.

General Sani Abacha….His One Million Match of 1998 cost some Music Stars their fortune and glory till date

This was undoubtedly fueled by
public appreciation of his past advocacy for non-violence in election
with the “Vote Not Fight”
initiative. In 2015 especially, he would earn further distinction by
refusing, on principle, to partake of the naira bazaar political
parties threw in the name of election campaign, unlike many of
his colleagues who pocketed fat envelopes and became embedded on the

As an aside, I can also attest from
my close observation while serving as Information Commissioner in Edo that 2Face carried himself with contentment and humility rare among his
colleagues. On the few occasions he was invited to perform at open parties Comrade Adams Oshiomhole hosted for Edo youths during festive seasons, he always acted professionally
and was never one of those to be found in Government House
the day after still scavenging for more “stomach infrastructure” even
after being paid the appearance fees. 

Moremi Ojudu….A new realist who made history on Tuface’s aborted protest

Overall, perhaps the most enduring
lesson is for the artistes to become conscious of the power of their
arts. As icons of the pop culture, they should realize their voices –
even silences – and public conduct carry much weight. To misuse that
power or conduct yourself in a way that suggests otherwise is to commit
a grave social sin. Those who, for love of money, had honored
invitations to perform at Abacha’s Million Man rally in 1998 soon
learnt from the ensuing public outrage that, under certain circumstances,
melodies become meaningless without social conscience. 
Another good example is saxophonist Lagbaja who took a bold stand in
2015 refusing mouth-watering offer to play at PDP presidential
campaign unlike others. His reason: he could not reconcile himself to
playing for a political party he strongly believes was complicit in
the gruesome murder fourteen years earlier of his mentor, Bola Ige

Late Bola Ige….His unresolved assassination evokes a protest from Lagbaja

At the height of the Britain/Ireland
Cold War, Sean O’Conor, the Irish songbird of “Nothing Compares To You” fame, once bluntly
refused to mount the stage until a British symbol in the arena was
removed. Only last month in the United
, a member of the iconic Mormon Tabernacle
 would not be part of the band to play at Donald Trump’s inauguration because, according to her,
she was unable to see any consistency in the band’s stated value and Trump’s professed racism and
misogyny. Fela perhaps put it most succinctly: “Music is a powerful
weapon, if you toy with it, you die young”.

How Ex-President Obasanjo felt about the Tuface drama?


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