Funke Akindele is an household name. She belongs to the crop of celebrities that young people are encouraged to look up to. Last weekend, she found her way into the news for the wrong reason.
A video of her, her husband and a number of other celebrities having an house party surfaced online. It’s not a big deal, except for the fact that all residents of Lagos and some other states in Nigeria are meant to be observing a lockdown and social distancing order as part of efforts to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Funke Akindele has in fact done a commercial for Dettol and the National Center for Disease Control to stress the importance of social distancing in combating COVID-19. It was therefore disappointing to have seen Funke Akindele flout the order she was meant to uphold.
Funke has since apologized to Nigerians in another video, explaining that everybody present at the party have been together under lockdown for two weeks. That wouldn’t prove to be enough though, as she has been arrested, charged and sentenced for the act along with her husband. The careless slip up can also prove to be costly for her career. She is most likely going to lose the advert contract she has with Dettol and NCDC. What’s more, she has definitely forfeited future potential deals with other brands. Funke has learnt her lessons. But did Nigerians do?
What Funke and the others did over the weekend is something cultural. Something one can say is uniquely Nigerian. I call it the culture of irresponsible I-don’t-careism. One can argue it is inherent in most Nigerians. But it gets to manifest in the attitude of those in the supposed “high-class”; politicians, clerics and celebrities especially. Thank God (and the relentless health workers) for his recovery, but isn’t the Oyo State governor guilty of this same attitude? Remember how he and his cohorts in the People’s Democratic Party went ahead to hold a rally many warned could increase the chances of spreading COVID-19? Damn what the experts say, they just don’t care!
The General Overseer of the Living Faith Church worldwide similarly convened a Sunday Service with thousands in attendance, thus flouting a government order banning gatherings of 50 people and above. Matters got messy in Katsina State where angry zealots burned down a police station because they were prevented from having Jumat Prayers and their leaders were arrested. All that could have been prevented, but in their habitual feeling of invincibility and I-don’t-careism, the religious leaders went ahead and called for Jumat Prayers.
Last week, news and images of the launching of an isolation center in Imo state circulated. Who launches a COVID-19 isolation centre with pomp and pageantry but Nigerian politicians. How much they care is obvious in how many of them have turned an emergency situation into political opportunism. Nose masks and sanitizers with names and pictures of politicians inscribed on them are so commonplace now one could think it’s an election season. Gatherings, reminiscent of the stomach infrastructure culture that we see during elections are now so common you begin to wonder if those exercises are meant to discourage social distancing or encourage it.
So, Funke Akindele was truly careless and has paid for it. I mean, she could have had the party and kept it off social media. But so confident are they in showcasing their I-don’t-careism that all sense of decorum seem to desert them at those moments. Thanks to the outrage of Nigerians on social media, we can say she’s been brought to book. What of the equally guilty politicians and other celebrities? We can only hope Nigerian youths keep up the energy in condemning these acts, even when the culprits are their favorites.
Authot : Kayode Akinwumi