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In “Emi Lokan,” his new song, Eedris Abdulkareem ‘bombs’ Nigerian leaders



In "Emi Lokan," his new song, Eedris Abdulkareem 'bombs' Nigerian leaders

Jorge Luis Borges, the great Argentine poet once said, for songs, mime, dance and other forms of arts to be relevant, it must address the challenges of the society. This admonition has been upheld by successive African singers from Hugh Masekela to Fela Kuti and Sonny Okosun; from Morocco to African China and others in their highly impactful revolutionary songs that have given them a form of cult following.

The contemporary Nigerian music has been described as a drab, highly inspiring in its failure to speak truth to power, and call the bluff of oppressors of the common man.

A story was told of his encounter with former president Obasanjo at Aso villa. After the release of his popular song, Jaga jags in 2004, he was invited by the president to perform in a state function. In the course if the event, Obasanjo was said to have seize the microphone and addressed the musician:

“So, na you sing Nigeria jaga jaga? Are you a Nigerian? Are your father and mother Nigerians? You people don’t see anything good in Nigeria, your father jaga jaga, your mother jaga jaga”. This formed the subject is his next song, Letter to the President in 2005.

Eedris Abdulkareem, the Kano- born enfante terrible of Nigerian music, of Yoruba parentage on both sides is an exception to the general rule.

In his new song, Abdulkareem criticized the contemporary political leaders, and was, especially, hard on the administrations of Muhammadu Buhari and Ahmed Bola Tinubu for bringing Nigeria to the sorry pass it has found itself.

He, particularly, called out Pastor Adeboye, President Tinubu, ex-presidents Buhari, Goodluck Jonathan, and Godwin Emefiele, former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, in his new song, ‘Emi Lokan’.

He opened the song with a powerful rendition, saying that “Emi Lokan,” which means: “It is my turn,” has now become “Ebi Lokan,” or “It is hunger’s turn,” as Nigerians from various ethnic groups voice their struggles with hunger, suffering, hopelessness and deceit on the part of governments since 2015 claiming progressive credentials.

He said, “Emi lokan don turn ebi lokan, and Yorubas are screaming “’ebi panwao ooo”
The song, thus far, is the most powerful artistic criticism of the failure of the Jonathan -Buhari-Tinubu administrations to give hope and meaning to the lives of suffering Nigerians.

‘Hausa’s are shouting, Igbo brothers are saying ‘i no concern us’’.

Hunger is the main staple of Nigerian life as a result of poor management of the economy, wrong policies – inspired by Bretton woods institutions and lack of political will to tackle corruption.

Food has turned to gold, and kidnapping is now the order of the day, when father, mother, and children are kidnapped, how would they afford ransom, it will resort to killing.

Some of Abulkareem’s lines run:

‘Even foods don turn to gold in Nigeria,

Kidnapping lucrative business in Nigeria,

How common man wan get money for ransom


When they kidnap ‘im wife and children

After everything na kill them go kill them..‘’

Eedris hit hard on the conspicuous consumption and lavish expenditure and embarrassing lifestyles of politicians amidst pervasive poverty in the polity.
He criticized enormous sums spent on renovations, allowances, and maintenance, contrasting it with the severe hunger faced by ordinary Nigerians.
He emphasized that if it was the political class that was kidnapped, all soldiers would be over the place.

He said, ‘’Imagine say na your grandchildren they are kidnapping,

By now your soldiers for don scatter Nigeria,

See as naira dey fall against dollar,

Emi lokan don turn to ebi lokan,

And you say make we sacrifice for Nigeria.’’

Speaking on the huge sums used in renovation, feeding dogs, traveling allowance, maniacal of government facilities

‘’N7 billion to renovate your residence,

N15 billion for your traveling allowance for you and the vice president,

N40 billion for Aso Rock maintenance,

N5 billion for food and refreshments,

N100 of millions for dogs, meanwhile hunger dey kill Nigerians.’’

Eedris went beyond the political class to call out religious intelligentsia, calling out the general overseers of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) for not speaking at this moment of hunger in the nation, unlike his outburst during the Jonathan administration. Eedris urged the Pastor to mobilize protests against the current government.

He said, ‘’Where our daddy Pastor Adeboye, during Goodluck Jonathan, your voice was so loud,


You even vow to stage 1 million match,

Hunger and hardship under Tinubu government, you say Nigeria get spiritual problem,

Baba we need your 1 million disciples to protest against Tinubu government just the way you protest against Jonathan,

Daddy abi leg don dey pain your disciples,

This na very big hypocrisy,

It’s time for you to speak the truth to power, because hunger wants to kill Nigerians.‘’

Eedris criticized the current government for blaming past administrations, noting that each regime has continued to worsen the situation. He emphasizes that Tinubu, as the former APC party leader, should have addressed Buhari’s shortcomings instead of bringing him to power.

He condemned Emefiele’s financial decisions under Buhari’s government, particularly, the printing of N23 trillion, and questioned the promises made regarding the refineries, suggesting that Nigerians are now dependent on Dangote’s refinery.
Eedris highlighted the removal of fuel subsidies and the resultant spike in fuel prices, pointing out the disparity between the political elite’s wealth and the common man’s struggles.


He said, ‘’Tinubu government blame Buhari, Buhari government blame Jonathan.

Hunger dey, people they die,

This one don pass Jagajaga

Emilokan oti di ebi lokan’’

‘’Tinubu was APC party leader bring Buhari regime,

Why did’nt you help Buhari solve the problem,

Debt under Buhari N77 trillion, no proof of any transformation,


Unborn children na them go pay for this evil. ‘’

You know Buhari was incompetent, and you still bring am to destroy Nigeria,

Padi padi government now you are the president

Since Buhari don destroy Nigeria, I hope you go fit bring am back,’’

‘’Emefiele printed 23trillion within 8 years under Buhari govt,

6 million dollars for election observers,

They say somebody forged Buhari’s signature, na lie, Buhari signed that document,

Where our refineries you na promise to fix?

Abi na Dangote refinery we go they depend on’’?

‘’How much you na don make from the removal of subsidy,

Since you na don dey sell fuel for 600 naira per litre,

People they sell their properties to feed their families,

Meanwhile, you and your crew they buy more properties,

Shout out to the Labour chairman, you na weldon if the govt say they no fit pay N65k,

Then make them pay the senate and reps N65k

Make all of us enjoy the suffering and smiling


What you give is what you deserve.’’

He praised the Labour chairman’s efforts and suggested that if the government cannot pay workers N65,000, then senators and representatives should also be paid the same amount to share in the suffering.

Born Idris Turayo Abdulkareem Ajenifuja on December 24, 1974.

Abulkareem is widely respected as a Nigerian hip-hop, R&B, and Afrobeat artist, songwriter, and singer. He was the lead rapper of the defunct Nigerian hip-hop boy band “The Remedies”. He is one of the pioneers of Nigerian hip hop and he is regarded as one of the most influential Nigerian rappers of all time.

He was born in a polygamous family in Kano, Nigeria. His father was from Ilesha in Osun State, and his mother was from Ogun State, all in the Southwestern part of Nigeria, but he adopted Kano State as his state of origin. He lost his father at the age of two and eight of his elder siblings as time went by.

Abdulkareem is married to Yetunde and they have children.

In 2000, Abdulkareem was among the personalities voted for by the Nigerian public to carry the Olympic torch in a relay through the country. He released ‘Pass’ in 2002, ‘Mr. Lecturer’ in 2002, and the most successful of his album,

‘Jaga Jaga’ in 2004.

‘Letter to Mr. President’ was released in 2005, while ‘King Is Back’ was released in 2007. Unfinished Business (2010), Nothing But The Truth (2020).

He has done a duet with several artists including Femi Kuti among others.


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