In an exclusive interview, the President of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), Mr. Steve Babaeko, discusses the inspiration behind the Unity Song, the state of the nation, and future projections for Nigeria
What inspired the Unity Song by AAAN?
The confluence of the 50th anniversary of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria and the 63rd independence of our beloved nation, Nigeria, within the same year, presented a unique opportunity. The committee entrusted with the task of orchestrating a year-long celebration for the association conceived a multitude of exceptional ideas. Among these, the notion of crafting a theme song to honour Nigeria emerged. Encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response received from citizens across the country, we take immense pride in having fulfilled our commitment to steadfastly support our nation. In pursuit of this aspiration, we joined forces with the legendary singer and songwriter, Cobhams Asuquo, in this endeavour.
The moment I initiated contact with him to introduce the project, his passion and unwavering enthusiasm proved to be nothing less than inspirational.
What informed the choice of Cobhams as the producer of the track?
Cobhams has been a steadfast collaborator of mine for well over 15 years. Over the course of our extensive partnership, we have undertaken numerous music projects on behalf of various clients. Whenever the need for a truly exceptional touch arises, Cobhams is my unequivocal go-to specialist. His multifaceted talents as a producer, songwriter, and singer equip him with the comprehensive skills required to consistently deliver excellence, a feat he never fails to achieve.
The remarkable quality of the “Naija No Dey Carry Last” song stands as irrefutable evidence that our decision to collaborate with him was indeed the right one.
What does the association hope to achieve with this song?
In the wake of the recent general elections, it is undeniable that our nation has experienced an exacerbated polarization, marked by an unsettling erosion of trust among its diverse regions. The concept behind this song was to craft a unifying anthem, one that can serve as a clarion call, compelling us all to embrace our collective responsibility in nation-building. Furthermore, this song aspires to serve as a poignant reminder of the common virtues that bind us together as a people, redirecting our focus away from our points of divergence.
What are the financial implications of producing and promoting this song?
Let’s begin by discussing the production cost. Given that it’s a Cobhams Asuquo production, it naturally carries a premium. Quality work of this caliber unquestionably comes at a price. It’s worth noting, however, that Cobhams enthusiastically committed to this project and commenced work even before discussing financial figures. We both shared a common understanding that this was a national assignment, driven by a sense of duty rather than a profit motive.
Moving on to promotion, we recognized the need to support the song with a well-structured promotional strategy. This is essential to ensure the song reaches a wide audience and resonates effectively.
How would you describe the current situation of the country?
To be perfectly candid, the state of our nation is in a precarious condition. The economic disparities between the rich and the poor, coupled with the devaluation of the Naira against major global currencies, have compounded the challenges faced by everyday Nigerians. Nevertheless, it is precisely during such trying times that we should find the motivation to transcend these adversities, lift ourselves up, and in doing so, elevate our nation as a whole.
The federal government has called for collaboration and support of the association. How do you think AAAN can contribute more to Nigeria’s socio-economic development?
The Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria stands ever-willing to engage and collaborate with the Federal Government when called upon. In this specific case, we took the initiative to proactively develop this project, firmly believing it to be a timely and vital contribution to our beloved nation.
Beyond the scope of this project, our ongoing efforts involve the generation of employment opportunities, with a particular focus on positively impacting the youth population in an area where unemployment rates are most pronounced. Advertising serves as the crucial catalyst that sustains and propels our nation’s economy, and candidly, it merits greater recognition for the role it plays.
What have been the highlights of your AAAN Presidency?
Despite our inauguration occurring during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, my working relationship with the Executive Board of AAAN has been an immensely rewarding experience. Collectively, we have undertaken a series of innovative projects that have significantly enhanced the Association’s reputation.
Additionally, we have placed a concerted emphasis on addressing gender disparities. In a historic milestone, we appointed a female Director to lead the team, marking the first time in the Association’s 50-year history.
Furthermore, we’ve witnessed the emergence of new, vibrant agencies, predominantly led by a younger generation. In sum, I believe the Association’s trajectory is distinctly upward and promising.
What are your projections for Nigeria in the next four/five years?
I am an unwavering optimist, and my confidence in the future of our nation remains unshaken. Counting Nigeria out is a notion that has proven futile time and again. It’s during the moments that appear most challenging that the indomitable Nigerian spirit rises to the occasion.
My earnest hope is that our President succeeds because the destiny of this great nation rests upon his shoulders. While we may continue to grapple with immediate economic challenges, I firmly believe that, in the medium to long term, our country will navigate through these difficulties. The one indispensable asset we must safeguard now is hope. May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.