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The Mohbad death saga

The mysterious death of budding young music star Mohbad has revealed a lot about the dark side of the music industry. It shows the public what seems like a glimpse of a huge criminal enterprise. The success of popular Nigerian music seems to be funded by wealthy figures in the underworld who use the industry as a smokescreen to give some legitimate credence to ill-gotten wealth.

Unsuspecting young lads like Mohbad are attracted to these criminal label owners/superstars, hoping that they too can get a break from the shackles of poverty. Unfortunately, these young artistes are often turned into errand boys and sign highly unfavourable contracts in exchange for fleeting stardom. People like Mohbad who dissent are harassed through the media or assaulted by thugs working at the behest of the record label owners.

Naturally, the outrage that greeted the death of Mohbad is not unexpected because the artiste had cried out loud, using his musical recordings to announce the threat to his life by his label boss and associates. No one cared until he lost his life in questionable circumstances. In an interesting turn of events, every hypocrite on the social media is taking advantage of the breaking news to increase mileage and attract click to their platforms. Meanwhile, the two major suspects in this tragic case, Marley and his associate, Sammy Larry are out of the country.

After much online outrage, the government has now moved to set up an investigative enquiry to look into this affair. Government officials have visited the relatives of the deceased. His corpse has been exhumed and an autopsy has been conducted to know the true cause of death. These are familiar scenes that should impress no one because as usual, it is medicine after death. If Mohbad was not famous and his death did not spark outrage in the public, the government will probably have failed to do a thorough investigation as we have seen so many times. Prior to this time, he had filed a complaint against his bullies but it was not taken seriously by relevant authorities. Tay just goes to show the inadequacy of our police. If government and relevant entertainment institutions had responded to his distress call, perhaps Mohbad could have been saved.

Government officials in this country should be proactive and responsive to the cry and needs of the citizens. Various distress calls and alarms by citizens who face clear and present dangers from terrorists and other criminal gangs are often ignored until disaster occurs.

That said, let us look at the larger picture. This unfortunate incident has happened because of the failings of the government to provide enabling environment for talent and hard work to thrive. Our music industry is the envy of many African countries. Our artistes and creatives are doing great things in the international stage shining positive light on our poor reputation in the international community. However most of this success is facilitated by illicit trade in drugs or cyber crime. People have resorted to self-help and young people are fast gravitating towards people of questionable character and means of livelihood.

Owing to the nature of high-risk investment in the music industry, investors are very weary of putting their money into something they are not certain of because of a lack of proper structures. In their stead criminals of all sorts entice young artists and use their talents to launder their illicit funds.

We have neglected infrastructure, education, health care and other essential human services, and instead, embraced religion and ethnicity as the tools of political rivalry. This negative strategy has created a toxic polity and massive dysfunction, which in turn has given rise to moral bankruptcy, underdevelopment, criminality, cultism, and the ills raging in the Nigerian nation.

The government has a very important role to provide an enabling environment for proper funding to come into the entertainment sector. It must take the creative industry seriously and pay close attention to what is happening there. It is our biggest export today. Seeing as our Nigeria has failed to live up to it’s potential in many other areas, we must look at what is working for us and seek to build on it, refine it and make it better.

For a nation that was projected in the early 60s to be a future economic African power, Nigeria is negatively stereotyped a nation of scammers and drug dealers across the world. This message is amplified in the popular music and entertainment media that is being churned out by our creatives locally and internationally. Organizations like COSSON and PMAN must modernize, put politics aside and put young people in leadership positions in those organizations so that positive change can be effected in the entertainment industry.

Without that, our music and movies will permeate the minds of impressionable minds and the message that will continue to come out of Nigeria will be a negative one. Entertainment is a mirror of our society and if we allow negative messages glorifying fraudsters and drug dealers to permeate the entire airspace, our moral compass as a society will definitely be lost or irreparably damaged.

Most of our problems are because of a lack of leadership. If the key organizations had been effective, they could have managed Mohbad’s contract issues with tact. If they had proper structures, artistes would always be confident enough to go through official channels to levy their grievances with assurance of definite resolutions. What we need is proper leadership from the presidency down to other industries across board.

•Ayodeji, author, pastor and life coach, can be reached on 09059243004 (SMS, WhatsApp and email: [email protected] only)