On March 30, Nigerian rappers Folarin Falana (Falz) and Olanrewaju Ogunmefun (Vector) released a new hit single, “Yakubu”

The song targeted the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, Mahmoud Yakubu, over the alleged manipulation of the 2023 election results.

The song’s lyrics captured some reasons INEC gave for the February 25 presidential election results not being posted in real-time on the INEC Election Result Viewing Portal (IReV). Amongst them were the technical glitches in the system. 

It also spoke on the massive election violence witnessed by voters in many polling units across Nigeria, to which Falz had been a victim.

The song has been met with positive remarks on how the song reflects the poor credibility of Nigeria’s elections. Many Nigerians have also used the song to express their political feelings on the elections and Nigeria’s governance.

However, this isn’t the first time Nigerian musicians have spoken up for citizens using their creative skills for political activism. 

Since the 1970s, musicians have called out the Nigerian government for its actions and inactions and requested better governance and accountability. Let’s list them out here:


Fela Kuti’s “Zombie”

Even though most songs in Fela’s discography are known to be widely anti-governmental,  “Zombie” would always stand out as one of his most acclaimed songs.

Released in 1976, “Zombie” speaks on Nigerian soldiers and their trait of following orders from their superiors blindly and inhumanely. This later led to the military attack on the Kalakuta Republic, Fela’s creative commune, in 1977.

The attack on Kalakuta Republic [Yorubaness]


Majek Fashek’s “Prisoner of Conscience”

In the 1989 hit song, “Prisoner of Conscience”, reggae artist Majek Fashek speaks to the police brutality in his time and how they tend to cut short the lives of future leaders violently. 

It is interesting to note that police brutality reared its ugly head again three decades later with the #EndSARS protests.

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Daddy Showkey’s “Fire Fire”

In 1998, John Asiemo (Daddy Showkey) released “Fire Fire”, a song that likens Nigeria to being “on fire” with its many political troubles.


Eedris Abdulkareem’s “Jaga Jaga” (2004)

The singer’s most famous hit song is “Jaga Jaga”, which speaks to political assassinations, the rising cost of living, fuel scarcity and many more.

This led to then-president Olusegun Obasanjo banning his song from radio airwaves, but that didn’t stop the song’s popularity. 

African China’s “Mr President” (2006)

On this track, the Nigerian singer pleads for presidents, governors, senators, and even the police to lead well and perform their responsibilities with a conscience. 

Timaya’s “Dem Mama” (2007)

In 1999, 900 civilians were killed in Odi, Bayelsa State, by the Nigerian Armed Forces in an attack known as the “Odi Massacre”

A native of the ill-fated town, Timaya expressed his sadness about the tragic events and his concerns about Nigeria slipping into chaos from a fresh democracy in his song, “Dem Mama”.

Sound Sultan’s “Light Up” (2010)

Before 2010, a huge political expectation from the government was the implementation of Vision 2010. 

Inaugurated by the then-military president Sani Abacha in 1996, the committee’s terms of reference were to “forge a plan which will ensure that Nigeria is en route by the year 2010, to becoming a developed nation in terms of economic prosperity, political stability and social harmony.” But their promises never came to fruition.

In this song, Sound Sultan, together with M.I, criticizes their lack of accountability on the project while calling attention to the corrupt practices and money-grabbing antics of Nigeria’s political class.


Falz’s “This is Nigeria” (2018)

Made as a freestyle to Childish Gambino’s “This is America”, “This is Nigeria” speaks to more modern problems on the rise of armed militia such as Boko Haram and fraud.

Burna Boy’s “20.10.20” (2020)

“20.10.20” is a sobering memoir of the Lekki Toll Gate Massacre on October 20, 2020. In this song, Damini Ogulu, aka Burna Boy, seeks to pay tribute to fallen comrades of the attack while reminding everyone who was to blame for the massacre – the Nigerian Army.

Why is it important for musicians to be involved in politics?

  • It can serve as a means of preserving important events in a country’s history
  • It acts as a catalyst for political awareness
  • It can spark conversations and change in governmental policies.


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