It is clearly obvious that Nigerians trust pop stars enough to send them money. As a result, politicians need to learn something from Davido.
Imagine if President Buhari used the internet to ask Nigerians to send him the money he needed to pay import taxes on a new Rolls Royce.
How many of us do you think would oblige?
But this is exactly what musician Davido did last week, and the results were astonishing.
“If u know I’ve given you a hit song … send me money” the singer posted on Twitter, alongside details of a bank account.
Within 90 minutes Davido shared a screenshot showing that more than N42 million naira had already been deposited.
The next day a further screenshot showed that the total had risen to N184 million naira, as celebrities, sports stars and companies began boasting of their donations.
Some fans questioned the morality of a performer who frequently shares photos of himself posing on private jets asking fans with only a few naira to their name to send him their cash.
“Someone who isn’t in need encouraging people who are likely in need and who have much less than them to send them money is weird in a country where only a small tiny percent have up to N500k in their account,” said one.
Others clearly felt very differently.
“I did it out of love. I know he is much richer than me and people saying why would I do that,” one fan told the BBC.
“It feels like one of my aims has been achieved. It’s rare for a fan to transact with a celebrity.”
Davido has subsequently revealed that all donations will be given to orphanages alongside a large personal donation.
But the episode contains crucial lessons for our political leaders, who – it’s fair to say – do not inspire the same devotion as Davido.
One recent study suggests that just 24% of Nigerians trust the government.
72% of Nigerians believe the statement “most politicians are corrupt” describes our country well – and 60% say it describes Nigeria “very well”.
Only 39% of Nigerians are satisfied with the way democracy is working in our country, while 60% say they are not satisfied.
These figures undoubtedly contribute to the worst voter turnout in West Africa – 36% at the last presidential election, compared to 68% in Ghana.
It’s fair to say that many of us begrudge paying our taxes, given the likelihood that some of them will end up in the back pocket of a corrupt official. I expect practically no-one would be willing to pay to get their local politician’s luxury car through customs!
Of course, Davido had some advantages over politicians. He doesn’t have a decades-long record of broken promises and corruption – only a back catalogue of hit records.
But part of his popularity stems from his engagement with his fans on social media. And this is a lesson Nigerian politicians have to learn. Davido’s fans feel like they know him. They feel like he knows them in return. They feel like they have a relationship with him.
At the digital democracy project I lead, we are using social media to reconnect electors and the elected. Our free Rate Your Leader app is designed to help politicians engage directly with voters on a person-to-person basis – helping them understand what matters most to the people who elect them and build relationships of trust with the electorate.
To many Nigerians, politicians can feel like very remote – even irrelevant– figures. Apps like Rate Your Leader can bridge that divide and make it clear to local people how vital their work is and how committed to their communities they are.
Rate Your Leader also allows voters to put questions directly to decision-makers – and rate the quality of answers they receive. In the digital era, user reviews are everything to consumers. People visit restaurants because customers have rated them highly on TripAdvisor. People buy online because consumers have rated products highly on Amazon. And we believe that people will vote for politicians that have proven that they are credible, trustworthy and responsive – and have the independent ratings to prove it.
We’re not saying that using social media tools like Rate Your Leader to engage with residents will end up with them posting banknotes to the statehouse.
But it can make them feel real, relevant and relatable. And that in turn is vital for our democracy.
CEO & Founder – Rate Your Leader