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Is this Nigeria? The facts behind Falz’s hit song

This article is more than 5 years old

Rapper Falz takes an unflinching look at his country in the hit song “This is Nigeria”, a take on This is America” by US artist Childish Gambino. The song’s video depicts challenges ranging from terrorist attacks to unemployment and police brutality.  

“The irregular has become so regularised that you have to sort of wake people up,” Falz said in a television interview. “This is the beginning, kick-starting the engine. And hopefully, everyone will help push the car forward.”

Here we bring you the facts about some of the topics Falz highlighted.

Boko Haram & the kidnapped girls

Young women wearing hijabs - “symbolic of the Chibok girls” - dance behind Falz near the start of the video. In 2014, 276 girls were kidnapped from their school in Chibok by Boko Haram militants, who have terrorised the north of the country since a 2009 uprising. The group has now fractured and lost most of the territory it once held, but continues to launch attacks.

While some of the Chibok girls have been freed, this year’s kidnapping of over 100 schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe state, shows Boko Haram is still able to carry out mass abductions.

FACTSHEET: Explaining Nigeria's Boko Haram & its violent insurgency

ANALYSIS: What is next for terror group Boko Haram?

Snakes & other thieving animals

Animals in Nigeria are eager thieves, according to news reports. Falz references the snake that “swallowed” N36 million (US$118,000) in a vault of the Joint Admission Matriculation Board. Other reports have monkeys and elephants making off with millions of naira.

READ: Pic of elephant ‘stealing’ US$400k from Nigerian bank photoshopped

‘Lazy’ people working multiple jobs

“People are still working multiple jobs,” Falz raps, “and they talk, say we lazy.” Nigeria’s latest unemployment figures (for June to September 2017) show that 40% of the country’s labour force were either underemployed or had no job.  

“As in many other developing countries, most Nigerians cannot afford to be completely unemployed,” a World Bank report noted. “Those without good productive employment therefore typically engage in various low productivity and low paying tasks for survival.”

FACTSHEET: How Nigeria's unemployment rate is calculated

READ: Is Nigeria’s unemployment rate 18.8%, as widely tweeted?

Running on generators

“No electricity daily” is another line in the song.

In 2016, only six in 10 Nigerians had household access to electricity, according to the International Energy Agency, leaving an estimated 74 million people in the dark.

FACTSHEET: The challenge of keeping Nigeria’s lights on

Brutality of the police's Special Anti-Robbery Squad

Later in the song, Falz depcits being stopped by Sars, the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad. In December 2017, Africa Check’s Nigeria editor too was accosted by Sars officers. Thousands of Nigerians have shared their personal experiences under the hashtag #EndSARS, but cases of abuse, exploitation, torture and indiscriminate arrest continue.

In 2016, Nigeria’s first nationwide survey on bribery revealed that 32.3% of adults reported that they had either bribed a public official or been asked to pay a bribe in the previous year. The police received the most bribes.

And an inefficient criminal justice system means over two-thirds of the people in Nigeria’s prisons are still awaiting trial.

FACTSHEET: Everyday corruption in Nigeria – who is on the take?

ANALYSIS: #EndSARS campaign – the trouble with quick-fix Nigeria police reforms



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