RECENTLY, the controversial Afrobeats and hip hop singer, Azeez Adesina Fashola, popularly known as Naira Marley, had himself another ball at the country’s expense. He staged a performance at a concert in Abuja despite the interstate travel ban and social distancing rules in place at the time, aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19, drawing enthusiastic crowds. At the event, a former Big Brother Nigeria (BBN) housemate, Kim Oprah, reportedly served as anchor. The sold-out concert was held at the Jabi Lake Mall, Abuja. Tickets sold for between N20,000 and N250,000. Never missing the opportunity to hug the limelight, Naira Marley, 26, shared videos of himself inside a private en route Abuja and upon arriving at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
A flier advertising the event, shared on Instagram by the organisers, indicated that it was meant to be a drive-through concert. In reality, however, the singer performed before a huge crowd. Social distancing was nil, and the attendees did not bother to wear face masks, as stipulated by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Naturally, though, the government did not find the development funny: the Ministry of Aviation promptly suspended an air services company, ExecuJet Airline, indefinitely for false information and for flying Naira Marley to Abuja for the concert on June 13. The flight, it noted, was initially approved to convey a serving Justice from Lagos to Abuja. Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, could not stomach the fact that the airline capitalised on the approval granted for a legal flight operation to convey Naira Marley to Abuja for an illegal event. Authorities at the FCT promptly sealed Jabi Lake Mall for hosting the concert, although the mall has now been reopened by a court because it also hosts other law-abiding business concerns which had been negatively affected by the closure.
In staging the Abuja concert, Naira Marley was only acting true to type. President of the Marlian movement, a fanbase defined by social deviance and marked out by such oddities as wearing trousers without belts, smoking marijuana at will and scoffing at authority and, even controversially, education, Naira Marley understands, and actively exploits, the weaknesses of the Nigerian state. He attended Peckham, South London, England, and Walworth School, where he obtained his General Certificate of Secondary Education, and graduated with a distinction in business from Peckham Academy, apart from studying business law at Crossways College (now Christ the King Sixth Form College), yet Marlians scoff at education. Looked down upon by many, but actively supported in equal measure even by highly placed members of Nigeria’s political class, the singer propagates the thesis that everyone is a fraudster, but operating on different angles. Pictures showing him having hearty moments with notable fraudster, Raymond Abbas, a so-called ‘Instagram influencer” with a 2.4 million fanbase who is currently in police net for a 350 million pounds cyberscam, suffuse the internet.
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