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Marley: How not to be role model

By Editorial Board
25 June 2020   |   3:44 am
Naira Marley, real name Azeez Fashola, the popular Afro beat-cum hip-hop artiste has lately run foul of the law again. Mr. Marley may be a successful artiste with a large fan base of young people...


Naira Marley, real name Azeez Fashola, the popular Afro beat-cum hip-hop artiste has lately run foul of the law again. Mr. Marley may be a successful artiste with a large fan base of young people but he is getting himself into trouble too often. It must be stated directly: to be in the limelight for the wrong reasons is not at all how to be a good role model.

First, he breached the existing regulation on air travel under the COVID-19 government prescriptions. Second, he held a concert at an Abuja venue amidst a large number of people thereby putting public health at risk, again in contravention of the COVID-19 law. This is not the first nor the second time that this young, reasonably successful musician has been accused of a breach of the law. In March 2019, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused and even arraigned him in court on allegation of cybercrime. A few months ago, he was one of the guests at a private party in Lagos that broke the state’s anti-COVID-19 regulation. He was treated lightly with a warning even as other similarly successful and widely admired celebrities were sanctioned as provided by the law. Perhaps, this slap on the wrist emboldened him to further dare constituted authority.

Indeed, it may not be surprising that Naira Marley goes about this way. He promotes a sort of counter-culture values including disrespect for constituted authority, less than proper mode of dressing, and worst of all, reportedly, disdain for education. Whereas youthful exuberance and anti-establishment behaviour is not unusual for his age (he is 26), the values he pushes to his numerous young fans can be curiously said to be respectable.

Mr. Fashola claimed that he took the name Marley because he drew inspiration from the late, great Jamaican reggae star, Bob Marley. Very well. But the original Marley was a heroic fighter for human rights, positive values and for social good, especially propagating with his inimitable music, the interest of African and indeed the black race. Bob Marley was an embodiment of ‘‘positive vibrations.’’ It is no wonder that Fashola found him an inspiration.  The least he can do to his icon is to continue in the path of promoting positive values for personal and societal progress. Pray, how can a rejection of education advance social good? Even he, Naira Marley, received some education in Nigeria, and up to the General Certificate level in England where he relocated to at age 11. Education refines. It can be argued that with better education, he could make an even more refined, more widely accepted music as well as lifestyle.

A role-model-display shows leadership qualities that include integrity, knowledge, standing for constructive and enduring values and generally inspiring good behaviour. These are the qualities that Mr. Fashola should take to heart and live by. This Marley is still a young man with many years of great opportunities ahead. But the way he carries about is not good for his personal reputation and it is bad for his business. Elders in the entertainment industry should advise him.

If Naira Marley offended the law possibly out of youthful intoxication, how is the flouting of COVID-19 regulations by various authorities to be justified? The proprietors of Jabi Mall venue that played host to his show wilfully put business-cum profit interest above both public safety and responsible corporate citizenship. Officials of Executive Jet Services that took the musician to and from Abuja failed, wilfully or inadvertently, to do a thorough check on the passengers for their flight claiming some confusion in the names Azeez Fashola with Babatunde Fashola! It defies common sense that any one would expect every Fashola to be a Babatunde. Besides, Naira Marley boarding an aircraft does not, by a long stretch of imagination, look like the former governor of Lagos State. They should tell that story to the marines!

Airport officials are supposed to work with airlines to ensure that the passenger manifest is authentic and reflects the correct number of souls on board an aircraft. Having received the necessary approval to fly a certain person on essential judicial duty, how did a dereliction occur, which allowed a male artiste with long braided hair to fly in place of a female judge?

Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika has said rightly, that firm action would be taken against the offending airline. But he should also interrogate the strange dereliction within the airport operations, which enabled Executive Jets Services breach regulations. Sirika too should not be talking as an innocent bystander in this mess.

Finally and as has been noted by commentators on this matter,  both the Federal Capital Territory authorities and the law enforcement agencies have, respectively, displayed a palpable failure in their duties. It is unbelievable that, they did not know that such a concert was being planned, that it held and that a popular artiste arrived and was received by a crowd at the Abuja airport, that he performed to a crowd until the early hours of the morning and flew back to Lagos. All of these happening in defiance of the Presidential Task Force regulations on the COVID-19 pandemic. It is scandalous in the extreme.

Too many things are wrong in a system, which allows brazen defiance of the law by persons, high and low. It speaks for weak government and ineffective governance.  Erosion of citizens’ confidence in and respect for constituted authority is dangerous for a polity. The Federal Government must sit up and bring to book everyone that has behaved irresponsibly to endanger public safety and make government authority look sterile.