Timi Dakolo’s Complaint about APC Playing His Song ‘Great Nation’ Without Consent, Groundless in Law


Sylvester Udemezue

Memory Verse:

“Instead of complaining that the rose bush is full of thorns, be happy [that] the thorn bush has roses.” ~Proverb

I’ve just come across a news report about Nigeria’s popular music star, Timi Dakolo “calling out” the All Progressives Party (APC), a political party in Nigeria, for using one of Dakolo’s songs during the political party’s national convention in Abuja on Tuesday, June 07, 2022,  without asking for or securing the musician’s prior consent. In truth, Timi Dakolo’s hit song, ‘Great Nation’ was played at the APC presidential primaries on Tuesday, when members of Nigerian entertainment industry under the aegis of “Ambassadors of Voice for Change”, appeared on stage to lend their voice to calls for peace and oneness in the country. According to an online news medium, Barrister NG, “Dakolo [later] took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to announce that he was not consulted before his song was used at the event”. The online news medium then quotes Dakolo as querying: “Why use an artist’s song without permission in a rally or campaign? The things people get away with in this country called Nigeria. Actually, this is the second time”.

However, and with due respect, I humbly doubt Mr. Dakolo’s claim that a musician’s prior (or subsequent) consent is required before anyone else could play the musician’s song anywhere and anytime.

In my humble opinion, the moment a musician has released a song/album to the public, the musician loses right to control or dictate by whom, when, how, where or on which or what occasion the song is played, provided there’s no plagiarism of the song — i.e., provided no one else plays or otherwise uses a song that’s original to the musician, as if it’s one’s or someone else’. In my view, playing a song from a DVD player, phone, pad, tab, computer or other music-playing device, at a private or public function/occasion, a song that has already been released (published) to the public, is not any form of “plagiarism”.

According to the University of North Carolina, plagiarism is said to be committed when one engages in a “deliberate or reckless representation without attribution, of someone else’ words, thoughts, or ideas as if it/they were one’s own”. Meanwhile, it’s not in all cases that the consent of the original author/owner is necessary. In this instance, prior consultation or go ahead of Mr. Dakolo’s was  unnecessary; Provided  those who had played his song (1)  gave credit to Mr Dakolo and (2) did not (mis)represent the work/song, etc., as if it were someone else’ ideas/song. In the present instance, I stand to be corrected, I am unable to see where or how the APC had used Timi Dakolo’s song as if it were APC’s own. Even as the song played out loud at the Eagle Square in Abuja, during the event, it was Timi Dakolo’s voice that was being heard (by all and sundry) renting the air; there were therefore, no misrepresentations and no misapprehensions. Accordingly, one wonders what Mr. Dakolo is up to?

Why would he think his consent was absolutely necessary before his song could be played?

Anyway, I think in certain few instances, such consent might become necessary (example: (I think), for composing radio or TV jingles used in promoting/advertising particular commercial goods, products and services), but not in this instance — a social function (APC Presidential Elections) where the song was played for entertainment purposes only.

If what the APC did in this instance could amount to any infringement of Dakolo’s copyright, then no one (including Mr Dakolo himself) would ever be entitled to play any song or music (Nigerian or foreign) in one’s bedroom, office, living room, car, marriage ceremonies, parties, clubs, churches, mosques, Conferences, etc, unless and until one has applied to the affected artiste for, and secured the artiste’s, prior approval. LoL  But, what a ridiculous argument such would be!

With due respect, Timi Dakolo’s complaint is not only groundless in law, unjustified in reason, unjustifiable in morality and insupportable in common sense, it appears also frivolous and bizarre. Mr Dakolo has either to “cool down” or, better still, to consult with his lawyer for proper legal advice on limits of his rights and duties in things such as this. In the meantime, I think that, instead of this unnecessary public nagging, Mr Dakolo should be happy and (feeling proud and) fulfilled seeing that his song was among the few songs selected for entertainment of guests/participants during such a huge social occasion.

Thank you, sir.

Sylvester Udemezue

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