Ohimai Amaize, the publisher of Signal Newspaper, has revealed how top musicians, including Wizkid and Banky W, had sought to boost the turnout of Nigerian youths in elections 10 years ago — with the move quashed after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed to respond to calls requesting funding.

Amaize brought the revelation to light on Thursday, at about the same time when public figures have continued to urge more youths to exercise their voting rights during elections to help realise capable leaders who will represent the true choice of the citizenry.

In a Twitter thread, the journalist better known as ‘Mr. Fix Nigeria’, recounted how the movement, which was founded a decade ago, suffered a setback due to lack of support from INEC.

He said himself, Wizkid, Skales, and a deluge of other young Nigerians had converged within the Ilupedju axis of Lagos in 2010 to record a song as part of the ‘IGoVote’ campaign he co-founded.

Through the concert that followed, Ohimai said Iyanya, Waje, Banky, and Timi Dakolo also came on board pro bono but they would all later give up after calls for the commission’s backing proved abortive.

“Ten years ago, within one week, nineteen multi-talented young Nigerians converged on a music studio in Ilupeju, Lagos to record ‘IGoVote’, an initiative of #Cool2Vote – a campaign I co-founded with @MrBanksOmishore and @Prof_Fiammari in 2010,” the journalist captioned a photograph.

“Armed with the passion we had for the country and the goodwill that #Cool2Vote enjoyed, we were able to do so much – a collaboration that featured @wizkidayo, @youngskales, @Soundsultan, @Iyanya, @generalpype, @OfficialWaje, @timidakolo and 11 others in one song – PRO BONO!

“The song was released online on 22nd July 2010. But we didn’t stop with #IGoVote. A few weeks later, we organized a concert, RockDaVote Mega Jam, which was held at the University of Ibadan. Many described it as the biggest concert ever held on the university campus.

“The line up was so heavy that all the artists could not perform that night. We had @BankyW, @wizkidayo, @youngskales, @Soundsultan, Rooftop MCs, @NaetoC, @iam_YQ, @OfficialWaje, Sauce Kid, and many more. Over 20 artistes joined us on the campaign.

“Inside two buses, we journeyed from Lagos to Ibadan for #RockDaVote Mega Jam. It was a night to remember. Most of these artistes were on top of their game at this time. Again, none of them asked us for a dime! Why didn’t we shoot a video for a big music collaboration like this?

“We tried to get some funding and wrote to INEC Nigeria with no luck. People got tired and we moved on. We had tried our best. The much we were able to do was because the artists were ready to go all out for the campaign without asking for anything in turn, except for hotel accommodation.

“And even that became a challenge for us the organizers. I recall the morning after #RockDaVote Mega Jam, when we couldn’t complete payment of the artists’ hotel bills, it became quite a scene. Some of the artists began to “para” but @BankyW and a few others helped calm the situation.”

Ohimai noted that the idea behind the initiative had been to inspire youths to register and vote for their preferred candidates on election day by leveraging on pop culture and celebrity endorsements.

“When people ask, ‘what have you done for Nigeria?’ I say, well some of us may not have designed the national flag. But we made modest contributions from time to time even till this present day. These experiences also shaped my understanding of the Nigerian music industry,” he explained.

“…and the challenges artists and record labels face. I think many of our artists don’t get enough credit for what they go through to keep their careers alive, especially in a place like Nigeria where you have a culture that forgets the labour of yesterday quickly based on who or what’s in vogue.”

Over the years, music artistes have occasionally sought to extend their influence to the political space, with Tuface Idibia once calling for a nationwide protest which eventually didn’t ensue.



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