In the wake of the tragic passing of the talented artist Mohbad, the underbelly of the entertainment industry in Nigeria has been laid bare. Yet, this is not a solitary instance. Rather, it’s a symptom of a larger ailment pervasive across every echelon of leadership in the country.
From the music industry to political spheres, religious bodies, godfatherism, nepotism, exploitation, and intimidation have woven their roots deeply.
This phenomenon raises a critical question: How are leaders appointed, and what metrics underpin these appointments? The absence of clear, transparent processes opens the door to abuse of power.
This issue extends beyond the entertainment industry. It seeps into our schools, corporate realms, and even houses of worship. Negative power dynamics are allowed to flourish, fueled by a culture of silence, cultural and religious dogmas, economic disparities, and failing institutional frameworks.
The recent tragic incident involving the late Nigerian singer Mohbad has shed light on a pervasive issue not limited to the entertainment industry but prevalent in every facet of leadership within Nigeria. The dynamics of Godfatherism, nepotism, exploitation, and intimidation that played a part in Mohbad’s story are symptomatic of a deeper malaise that plagues our nation’s leadership structures.
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A Systemic Problem
Negative power play is not exclusive to the music industry; it permeates various sectors of our society. From politics to corporate organizations, from educational institutions to religious bodies, the stench of exploitation and intimidation often hangs in the air. To understand this issue better, we must delve into the factors that allow it to thrive.
Nigeria has, for too long, been entrenched in a culture of silence. The fear of retribution for speaking out against injustices has crippled our ability to challenge authority. In the case of Mohbad, many remained silent out of fear for their careers or personal safety. Breaking this culture of silence is paramount to exposing and eradicating negative power play.
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Cultural and Religious Dogma:
Our rich cultural and religious traditions can sometimes be wielded as tools of control. These traditions, when misinterpreted or misapplied, can lead to a climate where exploitation goes unchallenged. It is essential to strike a balance between respecting tradition and ensuring that these norms do not infringe upon the rights and dignity of individuals.
Poverty and Failed Institutions:
Poverty and a lack of opportunities exacerbate negative power play. When people are desperate for livelihoods and success, they become more susceptible to manipulation and exploitation. Additionally, the failure of institutions designed to protect citizens from such abuses further perpetuates the problem.
Economic Disparities: The Fertile Ground for Exploitation:
In a nation grappling with economic disparities, individuals in positions of power hold significant sway. Desperation for opportunities or livelihoods often leads to compliance, even in the face of exploitation. This power imbalance perpetuates a cycle of abuse.
Taking Leadership Seriously
Addressing negative power play requires a multi-faceted approach:
Transparent Leadership Appointments:
We must scrutinize how leadership roles are appointed. Meritocracy should be the guiding principle, not nepotism or political influence. The process should be transparent and based on competence, experience, and vision.
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Accountability and Checks:
Institutions need robust mechanisms for accountability. Leaders, whether in politics, business, or entertainment, must be held accountable for their actions. Whistleblower protection and judicial independence are essential components of such checks.
Empowering the Silent Majority:
We need to empower individuals to speak out against exploitation and intimidation. This involves creating a safe environment for whistleblowers and nurturing a culture where voicing concerns is seen as an act of bravery, not betrayal.
Reforming Cultural Norms:
While respecting our cultural and religious norms, we must also reform those that perpetuate negative power dynamics. This requires open dialogue and a willingness to reinterpret traditions in a way that aligns with modern values of equality and justice.
Education and Advocacy: Empowering individuals with knowledge about their rights and avenues for reporting exploitation is a critical step.
Youth Empowerment: Fostering a new generation of leaders with a commitment to transparency, accountability, and ethical conduct is essential.
The Mohbad incident is a tragic reminder that negative power play thrives in Nigeria. To combat this deeply rooted issue, we must collectively challenge the status quo. By breaking the culture of silence, reevaluating cultural norms, and demanding transparency and accountability, we can begin to dismantle the systems that enable exploitation and intimidation. It’s time to take leadership seriously in Nigeria and build a nation where every citizen can thrive without fear of oppression.
Tofunmi Akinseye, is the CEO and Publisher of Savvy Media Africa, a professional in the media and communications field