Nigeria turns to music as it ramps up its COVID-19 response

Sunny Neji

By Olajide Adelana

ABUJA, Nigeria - Nigeria’s music star, Sunny Neji, is reaching out to the people of the country through a new song he has released recently in support of the nationwide effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

In his latest song titled “Together we will beat it,” Mr Neji emphasizes the importance of handwashing, acknowledging that today, ensuring access to hygiene is more urgent than ever.

“Access to improved hygiene and sanitation is very important and it cannot be overemphasized. Good hygiene practice can prevent infection, transmission and death from infectious diseases including COVID-19,” he said.

Mr Neji launched the COVID-19 song and video with United Purpose, the executing agency of the WSSCC-supported sanitation programme in Nigeria. Building on the lessons learned during the 2015 Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, United Purpose is maximizing the power of music to communicate far and wide, especially to younger audiences.

The song is currently aired on four radio stations in Nigeria and also in the United Kingdom on BBC Radio 5 which has a listenership of no fewer than 3 million. On Facebook, the song had reached 1.28 million people and been shared 1,600 times as of 27 April.

“The central message is to encourage people to show love to one another, especially at a time like this. To be responsible and considerate by adhering to all guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Mr Neji.

The idea that, in a crisis, people turn to music is supported by the performance of the music video and its wide acceptance on radio, social media, and other media channels since its launch.

“Music has the power to bring about healing by lifting one’s spirit,” said the singer.

“Psychological healing can promote physical healing and, from my personal experience, music is the most effective medium to communicate vital messages to people.”

Addressing myths that COVID-19 is not real, Mr Neji said he finds it unimaginable that people still don’t believe coronavirus is real.

“I would advise that enlightenment campaigns be intensified,” he said, “because it takes a lot to get through to some people.”