Days ago, news broke online that a ‘Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation’ (NBC), placed a ban of some popular Nigerian songs as they do from time to time after finding certain songs unfit for radio and television airplay. Among them were Olamide’s latest hit ‘Wo’ and ‘Wavy level’, Davido’s ‘Fall’ and ‘If’ remix and 9ice’s ‘Living things’. There has been no official reason why the songs were blacklisted.
This particular ban came days after the Federal Ministry of Health had, in a tweet, on Friday, August 18, 2017, said that the video to Olamide’s ‘Wo’ was in violation of the Tobacco Control Act 2015. Tweeting the information via its official Twitter page, the Ministry of Health claimed that the video, which features scenes in which youths are seen smoking, encourages second-hand smoking. According to the 2015 Tobacco Control Act, it is prohibited to promote or advertise tobacco or tobacco products except between a manufacturer, retailer and consenting persons above 18 years of age. “No person shall promote or advertise tobacco or tobacco products in any form. No person shall engage or participate in any tobacco advertising, promotion or sponsorship as a media or event organizer, celebrity or other participants,” it read.
Earlier in June this year, the federal government, through the Ministry of Health, had launched a campaign to also ban smoking in public places including motor parks, shopping malls and health care centres.
However, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the official and recognised government body in charge of regulations regarding all forms of broadcast in Nigeria, has denied reports of it banning songs of Olamide, Davido and 9ice.
It was reported that an official of the NBC had said, on Tuesday, that the ban notice on ‘Wo’ and ‘Wavy Level’ by Olamide, ‘Fall’ by Davido and ‘Living Things’ by 9ice did not come from the commission.
“First of all, NBC is a commission, not a corporation. Nobody at NBC issued a statement to the effect. We can’t be issuing a statement on every album released in this country. The broadcaster has the responsibility to do the needful. NBC does not ban songs, we don’t have any business with the artists. It is left for NBC to tell stations to ensure the songs and videos are fit for broadcast before putting them on air.
It is the responsibility of broadcasters to ensure they don’t come on air. They are supposed to do what is called gate-keeping and they should have editorial control over their content but broadcasters now carelessly air songs without exercising that editorial discretion. They abdicate that responsibility and then expect us to start chasing them. ‘The songs are actually offensive.”
“I have reliably gathered that some of those songs are actually offensive, regarding the lyrics. Some of these songs are for clubs. These stations that should practice self-regulation are lazy and unprofessional in their conduct”, he was quoted to have said.
The Federal Ministry of Health Nigeria, on its twitter handle also issued a statement saying it’s not in their jurisdiction to ban songs from airing.
However, this is not the first time that an Olamide song will be banned by the real NBC. In 2016, just a few months after the ban of one of his songs ‘Shakiti Bobo’, NBC also banned, ‘Don’t Stop’ which is a track off Olamide’s fifth studio album, ‘Eyan Mayweather’, for its vulgar lyrics.
Defending the decision at the time, the NBC said the songs were banned from being played on the airwaves for its ‘obscenity, being indecent, vulgar languages, lewd and profane expressions. Recently, Falz had, earlier this year, called out music acts who entertain/encourage lavish lifestyles and also fraud. 9ice’s ‘Living Things’, was the major talking point. The actor and rapper stated that the recent trend of calling names of internet fraudsters in music which was not helping future generations as the young ones are beginning to see this as a normal way of life.
He recounted the personal experience of challenges faced by Nigerians in other countries as a result of cyber crime. Many had also accused 9ice and many other artistes of promoting internet fraud and glorifying ‘yahoo boys’ otherwise called online scammers.
However, despite the alleged ‘ban’ by the NBC, many have stressed that the action by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) does not actually yield a notable result. This is because it is claimed that asides not having a formidable structure for regulation, the bans usually come weeks or months after some of the songs had been released to the public.
Ademola Lewis, a music enthusiast, believes that the ban holds no weight. “The bans, real or fake, are meaningless. You ban a song that has become a hit and is on rotation at the clubs and across the nation. You are only making it more popular as people get to know it will find a way to listen to it. In fact, some artistes may begin to pray that their songs be banned so as to make it popular. Our main and popular artistes are lazy. They rely on beats and slangs to make songs and that is why they are hardly evergreen”, he said.
Another respondent, Onyeka Adaora, and radio presenter, said, “Though it is laudable that the NBC is attempting to inject sanity into an otherwise failing system where nudity and lewd lyrics are the other of the day, they must go a step further to enforce a decree where songs are pre-reviewed and certified by a committee of stakeholders, before such songs are allowed for release. I believe it is done for the movie industry and so it can be replicated for the music industry. The internet has destroyed the chances for adequate monitoring but for the A-list or notable artistes that influence the industry, it should be done. This will send signals down the ranks. Until this is done, all these bans will only be on paper especially when the songs are still played on satellite TVs, clubs, roadsides and accessible on the internet. My siblings rarely watch music channels these days as most are filled with s3xual obscenities”.
Some do not only blame the artistes but the society at large and content providers called video directors and other teams attached to the artiste. Tolu Oluwo, a logistics consultant, in a chat with Friday Treat, stressed the lowering standards in society and lack of initiative by some Nigerian video directors to interpret songs in a manner devoid of obscenity.
“We are partly to blame. The society accepts anything these days and so artistes have taken advantage of that. It is bad enough that a song has weak/lewd lyrics but catchy beat but a video director, who accepts to make its visuals if he knows his job, can actually turn things around for the song. But because many lack competence, they rather fill videos with scantily clad ladies and other obscene scenes than seeking a storyline. Kudos to Jon whose song ‘Suru’ is a laudable project worthy of praise. Some video directors also rush through videos because of their schedule but a director/cinematographer worth his salt would rather drop a project than put his name to rubbish. This is beyond the powers of the current NBC. They need a scapegoat”, he said.
Christiana Adoke, a banker, believes that the media and fans of such musicians are major to blame. “The media feeds the public and shapes opinions. They are gatekeepers who decide which song becomes popular or not. Artistes rely heavily on the media to succeed. If without NBC bans, radio, TV, print and online media ‘blacklist’ certain types of songs; it will send a strong message to everyone. Also, a lot lies with the fans or consumers of music. You choose what to listen to. If artistes who lack songs that are socially acceptable see that such ‘razz’ songs are not patronised by the public, they will switch. It is a sign of our degraded morals in a society where anything goes. You see corporate organisations endorsing artistes with low morals while the ones struggling to make good music aren’t popular. We must begin to demand better”, she said.
While reactions continue to pour in, it is important to note that the awareness and demand for better music are increasing and as such, entertainers should find a way to balance their craft so as to inspire and mentor generations that they influence to make right choices.