“Stop Begging for Votes Like Politicians” – Etcetera Writes Memo to Nigerian Celebrities

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I’ll love to appeal to Nigerian entertainers to stop the habit of going about cap in hand begging for votes each time they are nominated for awards. If your materials are good enough and the award process is transparent, I see no reason why you should go about embarrassingly soliciting for votes like a politician.

No award should be given based on public opinion. There should be a “competent” panel of judges selected to review the nominated materials and advise the organisers who the winners should be. 


It calls to question the motives of award organisers. Same goes for the numerous music talent shows in Nigeria today. Have you ever wondered why all telecoms companies in Nigeria have a talent hunt show attached to their names? It is very simple. Television is the biggest means of communication in the country today. It reaches millions of people residing in cities, towns and villages (those who are lucky enough to have electricity). You can find a wide variety of entertainment on TV daily. From soap operas for (jobless) housewives, news for the working class to catch up on the happenings across the country after a hard day’s work, cartoons for kids and of course the talent shows for the gullible enthusiast who has been tricked to thinking he or she decides the participant’s future via the organiser’s voting system. A lot of Nigerians may never realize how much money they spend voting on these talent shows because they don’t get a monthly giant-sized telephone bill. The telecom companies have washed the public clean with detergent because it doesn’t look like the voting is going to stop anytime soon. With the amount of talents claimed to be harvested yearly, one would think that by now Nigeria should be the world’s leading exporter of talent. 

Everyday on TV, we see a bunch of unknown individuals locked up in a house together, begging for our votes. I do agree that voting makes the masses feel like a part of any competition and it also gives them a sense of importance. But the question is; why do they bother asking us to vote when they have already employed judges to decide the winners? Isn’t it criminal requesting people to spend their hard earned money voting when it’s obvious those votes don’t determine eventual winners? And seriously, does it occur to the telecoms companies that a great percentage of the masses don’t have the required qualification for judging what a real talent is? Won’t their votes be influenced by factors such as regionalism and tribalism?

And what do they have judges on the show for? They are invited and asked to judge the contestant and you still ask the public to vote for the most deserving? So these experienced, eminent personalities are defined by the public’s opinions? Why invite judges to the show when you are going to put your money making tactics to use anyway? The point of talent hunts is to search for the best. And almost always, the best get eliminated because they did not appeal to the Nigerian audience. Is it fair to manipulate audiences toincrease SMS income at the cost of shattered dreams? What do we vote for? To see disappointed faces go back home because they didn’t get enough votes? To see talented individuals who have sacrificed a lot to get where they are, discouraged by the masses inability to discern what true talent is? Should the public be allowed to choose the best as opposed to a panel of fair judges with experience?

We also have to consider the contestants who have worked really hard to fulfill their dreams in these reality shows hoping they will be given a fair opportunity by a group of competent judges. Since I have been watching most of these talent shows in Nigeria, there has been no indication whatsoever that public votes count or will ever count. The entire voting thing is a sham. It is only a money-making machine that makes a fool out of the unsuspecting public.

SMS voting is a very lucrative method of making millions out of an ignorant public.

Do the telecoms companies care who wins? Finally it is the general public that is the biggest loser. Even the participants have already amassed great fame being on TV. They have become known to the industry. And if they are talented, somebody is going to employ them. While the TV stations have already made millions out of the advertising sponsors of the show, the judges are paid huge amounts by the producers. A mediocre singer from a wealthy family with money to spend might become the winner because they have all the money to purchase recharge cards for friends and family members to vote as many times as required.

What is the public’s knowledge of music? Does even 10 per cent of the voting public know one music note from another or can they even make wild guesses at saying where the participating singer goes wrong, or misses a note? The public only knows that a participant comes from ‘my area,’ she is beautiful and sexy with sumptuous lips and nice body curves. And so the most inappropriate person wins only because of the greed of the telecoms companies.

A music talent hunt show is supposed to be the “music world cup”, and the decision making should be left to the umpires not the spectators. You can imagine if winners of all sporting competitions are determined by votes, China would be unstoppable.

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