Music, over the years, has been used in marketing; it has proven to be a major driver in marketing products or candidates. The right music puts one in the right mood and makes one less critical of the message. The underlying assumption is that, if people like a piece of campaign music, it will translate to loving the candidate in question.
“Everybody loves Jimmy Agbaje” is a governorship campaign song that has continued to thrill me. Although it is in its 12th year, it is still my most favourite political campaign song.The 2007 TV advert that accompanied it, till this moment, maintains the top spot of political campaign adverts as far as I’m concerned. It is the same for many Lagosians and non-Lagos residents. Agbaje’s modest self introduction and public pronouncement to run for the office of the governor of Lagos State makes it a classic and trusting political TV advertisement.
The campaign video was what propelled his first attempt at the Lagos State gubernatorial seat in 2007. The video campaign opened with an excited young man turning on a retro radio box seated on the floor. This was in a lonely open field that also had a fairly advanced man reading a newspaper. And campaign song, “Everybody loves Jimmy Agbaje” filled the air. It was an inescapably dance song. The ecstatic youth clad in a tie-and-dye stylishly short sleeve top that is synonymous with the Yoruba could not but dance to the song. In a jiffy, the radio box was up on his right shoulder as he spinned around in trendy dance steps.
As the song continued, Jimmy Agbaje introduced himself and his ambition to run for the office of governor of Lagos State. Agbaje’s appearance and voice jolted the gray-bearded elderly man immersed in his newspaper amid the enjoyable campaign song. He abruptly stood up and joined JK as he danced. The song made others dance and queue behind the boyish gubernatorial aspirant as they processed down the street. The more they danced to the song blasting through the street from the radio box, the more the crowd swelled. A female tailor abandoned her shop and another elderly man jettisoned his meal. Most captivating of JK’s followership train was the corporately dressed young man that not only dashed out from his car but deserted it to toe the politician’s line.
Amid the song, JK spoke further: “I’m asking for your support as I run for the office of the governor of Lagos State. I will try to create a government that is dedicated to the people; a government that is honest and committed … Join me as we take Lagos to the next level.”
JK’s voguish dance was alluring.
The lyrics of the song were carefully chosen and inspiring. The song was designed to inspire and energise the electorate to vote for JK. He lured a lot of Nigerians across all social classes, educational and economic backgrounds as depicted by the dancing crowd in the campaign video with a catchy, stirring and irresistible dance song.
According to eyewitnesses, television viewers and radio listeners also danced it out. Yours sincerely sufficiently had her dance-break while the campaign lasted. This song pumps up the adrenaline up with the memorable lyrics and an infectious sound. It is a great song to dance to.
More so, JK’s campaign statement in the midst of the song set the campaign TV advert in a likeable and captivating tone.
This occurred in 2007 when JK first tested the waters of the Lagos State governorship election under the defunct DPA party. The song also featured in his second attempt political campaigns as the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) Lagos State governorship candidate, though not as pronounced as his previous shot. It was particularly conspicuous with his TV campaign tagged ‘My Vision for Lagos’ and the hip-hop campaign songs. The latter, which was more distinct on Soundcloud, was mixed with rap that empasised the mantra ‘JK we know; JK we Trust’.The appealing effects of the 2007 JK campaign song far surpassed other adverts, which included ‘4NL’ that featured the live performance of a Nigerian artiste, Mayorkun, as well as Nollywood stars like Yemi Blaq, Alex Okoroji, John Njamah, Grace Ama, Kalu Ikeagwu, Segun Obe, Tokunbo Coker.
The ‘Everybody loves Jimmy Agbaje’ campaign song and video ad resonates with all social classes of the Nigerian electorate. It is emotional, likeable and capable of spurring the stone-hearted to dance.
As the Nigerian music industry evolved, so also the shape and form of Jimmy Agbaje’s campaign songs changed with the trends. So also his campaigns increasingly embraced issue-based policies talk-points.
JK’s 2015 campaign jingle tagged ‘….The Citadel of Power. The Rallying Point’ was also breath-taking. This time there was no trace of the ‘Everybody loves Jimmy Agbaje’ tone. It assumed the typical Naija steaming soundtrack that reflected the ethnic origin of JK through the use of the Yoruba language. The lyrics were also enchanting; “JK is okay for Lagos State Governor; Jimmy Agbaje for Lagos State Governor, JK we know, JK, we trust; JK is tested and trusted; Jimmy Agbaje for Lagos State Governor; JK we know, JK, we trust.”
Most modern campaign songs are upbeat popular songs or original compositions that articulate a positive message about a campaign or candidate, usually appealing to patriotism, optimism or a good-natured reference to a personal quality of the candidate.
Among all recent political campaign mantras in Nigeria, the Jimmy Agbaje’s is most meaningful. ‘JK we know; JK we trust’ bespeaks the essence of a political campaign. Why do politicians campaign to be elected? Create awareness of their candidatures, project their personalities and policies as well as elicit trust of the electorate. Trust is essential in politics. JK has the civility and respect to earn this trust. To be a successful politician, people especially your followers must trust you. And the best way for a politician to build trust is to display good sense of characters and qualities composed of values, beliefs, traits and skills to handle fiscal matters, policies, plans, projects, ideas and initiate solutions to problems.
A bold picture on a campaign poster is worth a thousand words, and a good campaign song is better than repeating message and message over and over. Although it is important to note that a great campaign song is not all it takes to win you an election. There are lots more, which have to do with issue-based campaigns and workable strategic plans.
MKO Abiola’s campaign song was a powerful anchor. The music exuded vibrations that spur dances, happiness and unity. Of course, the united and happy Nigerian people stood up for their choice candidate. And behold Abiola won the election.