Thoughts on David Hundeyin’s “You Can Fool All the People All the Time—You’re in Nigeria!”

Dozens of David Hundeyin’s threads I have read, and I have always thought this is a man who can put words together so well to make the best expressions and impressions, but when I read Hundeyin’s Business Day publication of 27th of July, 2022, I was more thrilled; this man sure can write. From the back stories of him trying to be an out-of-the-box thinker to how his creative ideas were always loved but abandoned to take up cheaper and usual ideas to how these tell a lot about Nigerians, Nigerian politics, the 2023 elections and the strategies played out by the candidates, nothing said can be trashed. The write-up has done the telling of everything wrong with the Nigerian political and election system, and it has also explained why Tinubu won the presidential election if he does win in 2023. Maybe David didn’t do this intentionally, but in the end, his write-up ends up having all over it “don’t be shocked in 2023 if Tinubu turns out the winner of the presidential election—and he just could”. As an academic, it’s popular amongst us to posit that what would make a person like Tinubu win a presidential election in Nigeria would rally around religiosity, ethnocentrism, tribal-alignment (which Hundeyin mentions too), godfatherism, clientele politics and so on. All these are ever-correct about Nigerian politics and elections, and most of them are correct about Tinubu heading towards being the next president of Nigeria, but Hundeyin’s approach is way simpler, practical and can be seen everywhere online Nigeria and offline Nigeria. David in his stories points out some marketing strategies used on Nigerians politically, and how these strategies are ever-effective, and my thoughts are not any far from his.

Thinking of the write-up from my own perspectives, selling anything or anyone to Nigerians as a people is not that complicated, just go study and understand the Nigerian algorithm and work by it; it’s the same algorithm and—although it could get tough—it’s never futile. Whether we are talking about Nigerians as social media people or Nigerians as human-human people, the algorithm is the same when it comes to what gets them. The ‘Celebrity Effect’ for instance would work on any human, but when it comes to Nigerians, it has to be one of the factors that catch our attention best—probably only following the ‘Awoof Effect’. The Awoof Effect works best on Nigerians in any situation and for any cause; Nigerians love Awoof. The sense of entitlement around here is so high that everyone feels like they deserve some Awoof for everything and anything at all even as fragile as a relationship of being your cousin’s cousin or your follower on social media. Nigerians expect their Awoof, in fact anything they do for you comes with an expectation of some Awoof from you; Nigerians are your fans, they want Awoof from being that; Nigerians are your church members, they expect Awoof for being that; Nigerians buy your products, they expect Awoof from patronizing you; Nigerians follow you on social media, they expect Awoof. The Nigerian social media celebs and entertainment celebs and companies know this about Nigerians, so they attach their marketing strategies to this extreme sense of entitlement and the Awoof-loving nature of Nigerians. The politicians know this too, this is why they would rather spend the money to be spent on infrastructures and programmes on customized bags of rice and notebooks and Ankara and share to the people when they want something from the people; the people want good roads, but they love their Awoof. The people would rather collect their “entitlements”: customized bags of rice, a trip to Mecca or Jerusalem and some yards of Anakara than have good roads and good schools and good healthcare. Tinubu knows this, and this is why he’s known as the “Bullion Van” guy, and if Tinubu wins come 2023, this would be the core reason why he won—he gave the good number of Nigerians the Awoof they feel is their entitlement.

To not leave the talks about the “Celebrity Effect” unstressed, if you are a good user of Twitter you would know what this means; a Twitter celeb can tweet what a regular tweep tweeted and in 30 minutes garner hundreds of likes while the original person who tweeted it gets just one like, and this would not necessarily be because of some possible difference in numbers of followers but because “well, a Twitter celebrity tweeted it, so we have to pay more attention to it now and react to it”. This effect is why how Twitter people react to a particular event or situation can be easily determined by a couple of influencers. If Buhari wants Twitter to worship him instead of the daily bashing he gets from Twitter, all it’d take is to hire some Twitter celebs and have them polish his identity again, and you’d see how Nigerians would start seeing that although Buhari is a bad president, but we cannot continue looking away from the little good things he has done as president. There is nothing a Nigerian tweep cannot be made to do, there is no way a Nigerian tweep cannot be made to think or react, all that’s needed is one or a few Twitter celebs. This strategy does not end on Twitter, it stretches to every room in Nigeria. I want to not attach this problem to the education system, but it cannot be overlooked that the Nigerian education system—with no stress at all—shapes individuals to not be able to think on their own or have their own original opinion or reaction; everyone needs an authority or a celebrity to validate their thoughts or recommend to them what to think. The schools have parts in this problem in how they make sure failure follows anyone who dares to think outside of what they are taught and success follows anyone who replicates everything they are taught. Tinubu would have no problem at all using this strategy again; his camp used it so well against Goodluck Jonathan and to sell Buhari in 2014 and 2015, and here we are.

The Nigerian algorithm studied makes everything easier for anyone who wants to capture the attention of Nigerians; Jaruma knows this algorithm, our “BREAKING NEWS” platforms know this algorithm, the social media employees of the Buhari’s presidency know this, and if you want to win Nigerians or capture their attention, you must know this too. Apart from the dominant Awoof and the Celebrity Effects already talked about, you must know that mediocrity, nudity, bad news and gist of misfortunes and heartbreaks get Nigerians all the time; check the trending topics on Nigerian social platforms and compare with the trending topics of other countries (even in Africa), check the Nigerian contents that get the crazy views and likes, check out what dominates the skits our skit makers create, they all say mediocrity, nudity, bad news, gist of misfortunes and heartbreak. You would have no idea how politicians can use these and how the Tinubu camp can use these to win the 2023 election until you check the genre of contents released to Nigerians nowadays, how they tango with the 2023 elections and how, per day, the number goes up. Just know that some people understand publicity so well that that they know there is no such thing as “bad publicity” and they would use any bad news or stories of misfortunes or heartbreak to push their cause with no one suspecting how they are using such things for their own good. This is made possible because that is who we are as Nigerians. So when David insinuates that Nigerians can be fooled all the time, you would find it difficult to disagree if you knew how these things work around here.

About Olusegun Peters

Olusegun Peters is a businessman, a politician, a scholar and a crypto enthusiast. He is passionate about impacting as many people as possible one person at a time. Read more about Olusegun here

View all posts by Olusegun Peters →