As Omicron, the latest variant of COVID-19, forces nations around the world to adopt stricter safety measures to protect their citizens, entertainment stars in Nigeria are raising their voices in support of vaccination.

“I know for a fact that the virus is real, I know the vaccine (protection) outweighs the side effects and the more of us that take it, the better for everybody. I will encourage everybody to take the vaccine; my whole family will take the vaccine.”

With an estimated 11.2 million doses given so far and 3.84 million citizens fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (as of early December 2020), the Nigerian government, through the Health Ministry and its agencies, is working hard to ramp up that figure.

To help achieve that target, some leading entertainment icons are using their star status to get their fans to embrace COVID-19 vaccines in order to curtail the spread of the disease in the country.

In October 2020, Davido – one of Nigeria and Africa’s biggest musical talents – called on world leaders to ensure vaccines reach Africa. “For this pandemic to truly end, it has to end everywhere,” he said. “Africans must have their fair access to vaccines.”

The hip-hop star has gone on to be a vocal campaigner for the ongoing vaccination exercise in Nigeria through his many social media activities.

Also leading by example, Nigerian Afrobeat legend, Femi Kuti, shared photos of himself taking the jab recently in a bid to encourage fans to do the same.

Moments after taking the vaccine, Kuti said, “I know for a fact that the virus is real, I know the vaccine (protection) outweighs the side effects and the more of us that take it, the better for everybody. I will encourage everybody to take the vaccine; my whole family will take the vaccine.”

Ali Nuhu, a Nigerian movie star, who also took the vaccine recently, has urged his fans to go for the jab as it was safe and effective.

In a social media post shortly after he took the shot, he said, “I have taken the vaccine. I had to take the vaccine for myself, my family and community of actors who also need to be protected, especially at shoot locations. Taking the vaccine has helped in making me feel better protected.”

Renowned television presenter, Morayo Afolabi-Brown, has also leveraged her large following in the country to urge fans to go for the vaccine.

Speaking about the safety and effectiveness of the medicine, she said, “To change the current COVID-19 situation across the country, the more people get vaccinated, the less spread. So, taking the vaccine does help in protecting oneself and loved ones from getting seriously ill or dying from the infection.”

The messages from these entertainers have managed to convince some Nigerians like Ebuka Emmanuel, a Lagos resident, to finally go for the jab.

“I am a huge fan of Davido, I love his music and personality and that was why when I saw that he told fans to go for the vaccine, I decided to take it myself. I feel if people like him can encourage others to take it, the vaccine is safe,” he says.

Another lover of Nigeria’s pop music, Remi George, said that the endorsement of the vaccine by top entertainers in the country was convincing enough for her to take the jab.

“I mean if the stars, who always do things to make ordinary citizens happy, could say the vaccine was safe, there was no reason for me to harbour any fear again. I had to go for it,” she says.

Hit hard by the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country in February 2020, Nigeria’s entertainment sector lost huge revenues that could have further aided the growth of the industry.

But with the arrival of life-saving vaccines this year, the entertainment business in the country is booming once again, with major music and movie shows across different parts of Nigeria now witnessing massive turnout.

Entertainment lawyer, Peter Obateru, says that with fans now following the lead of their favourite stars to take the vaccine, the music and movie sector in Nigeria should undergo a resurgence in the coming months.

He adds, “The arrival of the vaccine is a big blessing for the entertainment industry in Nigeria. It has allowed more people to attend shows without fear of dying from COVID-19 because of the protection it offers. The sector lost a lot of revenues in 2020 but, after helping to raise more awareness on the virus and the need for people to take the vaccine, the entertainment business will witness an increased boom again in Nigeria.”

TOPICS: Country storiesCOVID-19

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