BARELY three weeks to the 2011 general elections, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, has further consolidated his political strategies by involving more celebrities in his electioneering campaign.
One of such deals, we learnt, was recently sealed with award winning Nigerian artist, Dapo Oyebanjo, popularly known as D’Banj. This was evident on Thursday, March 17, 2011 when Mr. President’s interview with the popular hip-hop artist was aired on Silverbird Television, Lagos.
The main agenda of the 20-minute interactive session between Mr. President and D’Banj was youth empowerment if elected in the forthcoming election.
However, the interview has been generating mixed reactions from many Nigerians, especially the addicted fans of the Ijebu Ode, Ogun State born hip-hop crooner.
While some condemned D’Banj for campaigning for Jonathan, who is contesting on the Peoples Democratic Party platform and for claiming that he is representing the interest of Nigerian youths, others, however, are of the opinion that there is nothing wrong with him campaigning for Jonathan.
One of the comments posted on D’Banj’s website stated that, “D’Banj was paid to boost Jonathan’s publicity drive. It’s just a campaign of sort and I don’t see anything wrong with that. I believe anyone in his shoes will jump at it.” Some political commentators have also criticised President Goodluck Jonathan for shunning an intellectual political debate for a low grade and soft interview session anchored by an entertainer. Some of such independent bodies that have pencilled down Jonathan for debates but got disappointed include NN24 and What About Us, which was to be anchored by acclaimed novelist, Chimamanda Adichie.
ENCOMIUM Weekly reliably gathered that the choice of the Fall in Love crooner was borne out of the confidence President Goodluck Jonathan has in him since they met. Not only that, D’Banj is believed to be widely admired by the youths at the moment and his involvement in his campaign directly or indirectly will be a boost to his winning strategies.
A source close to the Koko Master, as D’Banj is fondly called, said, “D’Banj is close to the youths and his music has impacted positively in their lives. He’s very illustrious and his popularity has gone beyond Africa. I think his rising profile in recent times really impressed Mr. President and he believes D’Banj can use it to influence Nigerian youths.”
D’Banj, who is also known and addressed as Mr. Endowed, was among the first set of entertainers that declared their support for President Goodluck Jonathan. Since then, he has single-handedly championed a massive campaign for Mr. President.
The multiple award-winning singer recomposed and dedicated one of his hit songs entitled, Scape Goat, as a campaign song for Mr. President. The same song was also played before and after the now controversial TV interview, which was aired between 8.30 p.m and 8.50 p.m on Thursday, March 17, 2011.
During the recently conducted INEC registration exercise, the Ogun State born entertainer mobilised some of his colleagues to sensitise Nigerian youths on the need to register and vote during the elections. But, many of his colleagues did not know that he had started his underground campaign for the Bayelsa State born politician then.
The highly celebrated artist and the entire Mo’Hits team registered at a centre close to their Lekki (Lagos) home where D’Banj declared his love for President Jonathan and promised to cast his vote for him.
ENCOMIUM Weekly also gathered that many celebrities, from Nollywood and music, have raked in good money from the President. We learnt that D’Banj is allegedly on the payroll of the soft-spoken president. And that the Koko Master allegedly pocketed a handsome amount of money for the campaign song, Scape Goat, and other activities which he is co-ordinating for Mr. President.
However, the artist has debunked the tale in an interview he recently granted ENCOMIUM Weekly, adding that what he did was based on his belief that Jonathan is the only president that can take Nigeria to the promised land.
According to him, “I didn’t charge President Jonathan any fee. I challenge anybody to come out and debunk my claim. I did it for free because I believe so much in President Jonathan. I have heard his success story and I believe there is nothing wrong in associating with somebody who has good luck.”
Their interview was said to have been recorded at the Presidential Villa (in Abuja) and was aired on STV. Sources close to the TV station stated that it was doubtful if the management collected money for the air time, stressing that, “Mr. Ben Bruce is part of the group that is supporting Goodluck’s ambition.”
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, March 22, 2011