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2Baba's New Challenge: Philanthropy
After decades of leading African music, Innocent Idibia has done it all in music. And now, a new chapter unfolds for the Nigerian legend.
Innocent Idibia, popularly known as 2baba, is a legendary Nigerian musician, songwriter, and philanthropist. He is known to many as the brilliant mind behind ‘African Queen’ and other hit songs. He has many talents and interests - especially in helping African youths and displaced people.
After establishing himself as a bonafide star with the Plantashun Boiz in 1999, 2Baba emerged as the standout leader of the emerging generation with the 2004 release of his solo debut album ‘Face 2 Face’. He released ‘Grass 2 Grace’ and ‘The Unstoppable’ in 2006 and 2009, had several trailblazing firsts, sold tens of millions of records and received a heap of local and international awards. He then made an all-important commitment to service to humanity.
In 2008, 2Baba established the 2Face Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes peace, unity, and socioeconomic development in Nigeria. The foundation focuses on education, health, empowerment, relief intervention, the deepening of democracy through credible electoral process, peace-building and advocacy for good governance. Between 2009 and 2023, the sheer quantity of work and quality of impact has been, just like his accomplishments in music, awe-inspiring.
Since 2009, 2Baba has released four new albums, including a 2010 international edition of ‘The Unstoppable’, ‘Away and Beyond’ (2012), ‘The Ascension’ (2014), and ‘Warriors’ (2020). As consistent as he’s been with releasing music and maintaining his A-list celebrity status, he’s also focused on his work for humanity.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) appointed 2Baba as an ambassador in 2009. He released the song ‘Man Unkind’ to raise awareness of the menace of fake and sub-standard food and drug products in Nigeria. That same year, he received the prestigious International Youth Ambassador for Peace Summit and the Nigeria Youth Merit Award from the National Youth Council of Nigeria.
2Baba has consistently used his fame and influence to address critical social issues and positively impact society. His commitment to various causes, such as peace, education, health, the welfare of IDPs and refugees, sets him apart and demonstrates his dedication to creating positive change. Recognizing the importance of education, he has donated books, provided scholarships to students, and supported educational institutions with facilities and equipment. At a special breakfast chat held on Monday, June 19, 2023, reference was also made of the multi-million naira digital/analog studio he built and donated to the Music Department at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife in March 2022. He has also used his platform to raise awareness about climate change, involving himself in environmental campaigns and initiatives and highlighting the need for sustainable practices and conservation.
2Baba’s work towards electoral participation in Nigeria has also been extensive, working on several sub-campaigns in the ‘Vote Not Fight’ initiative. In 2011, 2Baba launched the ‘A Million Voices for Peace’ campaign, which sought to mobilize Nigerians and raise awareness about the importance of peaceful elections. During the 2015 Nigerian general elections, 2Baba collaborated with the Youngstars Foundation and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) to launch the ‘Vote Not Fight’ campaign. The initiative aimed to discourage electoral violence and promote peaceful participation in the electoral process.
In 2015 he held the ‘One Voice Peace Concert’ in partnership with Enough is Enough Nigeria at the Classique Events Center, Ikeja, Lagos. The concert sensitised Nigerians on the need for post-election involvement in the day-to-day activities of the Nation and its government. That same year, the 2Baba Foundation held many smaller events nationwide, warning youths against electoral violence while encouraging electoral participation. He also released the ‘Vote Not Fight (Election No Be War)’ theme song.
Since 2015, he has increasingly castigated electoral violence and encouraged political participation. He’s worked on off-season elections in states like Kogi (2016, 2019), Osun (2018, 2022), and Anambra (2017, 2021).
At the inaugural ceremony at Awka in 2017, 2Baba said, “Since 2015, the partner organisations on the ‘Vote Not Fight’ campaign and I have worked tirelessly to increase youth participation in our country’s election. The government 's legitimacy depends on peaceful, free, fair and credible elections. We have to monitor and engage our leaders. I encourage our youths to join political parties of their choice and grow to help make informed decisions.”
As part of the campaign for the 2018 Osun governorship election, he held a concert in Osogbo, the state’s capital, where he addressed uneducated youths, commercial motor and motorcycle unionists, and other artisans on the need for peace during the election. About 2,000 youths signed pledge cards as a show of their commitment to remain peaceful during the election.
The critically-praised Nollywood blockbuster, “Power of 1” directed by Izu Ojukwu and produced by Buckwyld Media and released in 2018 was another major advocacy project aimed at challenging young Nigerians to take more responsibility for the survival and development of the nation.
Before the Vote Not Fight initiative began, The United States Institute of Peace recorded that 100 people were killed in election-related violence in 2003, and 300 people in 2007. The worst election-related violence took place in the three days after the 2011 election, when 800 people were killed, 700 in Kaduna alone. Then in 2015, after about a year of starting the campaign, The Nigeria Security Tracker documented 106 election-related deaths in the 2015 cycle.
Since its inception, the ‘Vote Not Fight’ campaign has promoted anti-election violence during two national elections, the 2015 and 2019 elections. It has also garnered the support of many Nigerian celebrities. Ahead of the 2023 elections, the campaign worked to help reduce vote buying and electoral violence and improve youth turnout. They educated citizens on the 2022 electoral act and the punishment for vote buying and selling, which involves paying a fine of 500,000 Naira and a minimum of two years imprisonment.
During a delegation led by the legendary musician to the INEC Chairman’s office, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, 2Baba called for Nigerians to shun violence so their votes can count. He said, “We focus on youths to spur them to engage in politics not just to be social media warriors without actually participating physically. The aim is to also campaign for peaceful elections before, during and after as well as to also reach out to the political actors to ask their supporters not to engage in any form of violence. We are advising them to avoid hate speeches and not to incite violence but go out there to say what they have to offer and let the people choose.”
2Baba reiterated the importance of the initiative at a special breakfast chat with the media on Monday, June 19, 2023, at Eko Hotels and Suites. He said, “Of the many development projects I have been involved with, the "Vote Not Fight, Election No Be War" campaign has been one of the most intense, impactful and gratifying. Birthed in 2014 to promote active youth participation and peaceful elections in Nigeria, the campaign supported 3 general and 14 off-cycle elections between 2015 and 2023. It reached 62 Million Nigerians and currently has 2,000 active youth volunteers across the country. Two important studies have linked the campaign to relatively more peaceful elections during the period”.
“Today, as we close the curtain on "Act One" of this very important project, I reflect on the last 9 years with a deep sense of pride in the quality of work we have done but at the same time, a sense of sadness at the upsurge in the number of recorded incidents of violence in the last general elections. Elections are an important component of democratic governance and it is imperative that we all work towards free, fair, credible and violence-free elections. I reaffirm my commitment to the long walk towards a better Nigeria and state that conversations about the next chapter are in top gear with potential new partners”, he concluded.
Apart from his work in politics, 2Baba has maintained a firm hand on his work with Internally Displaced Persons. In 2010, he collaborated with other artists on the "Help for Haiti" project, raising funds for earthquake victims in Haiti. In 2013, he supported the "Flood With Love" campaign to provide relief to victims of flooding in Nigeria. He held a charity concert, "2Baba and Friends," to raise funds for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria in 2017, donated items to those affected by the Benue flood, and supported the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in their relief efforts for IDPs and refugees in Nigeria. He was the first Nigerian, individual or corporate citizen to make cash donation in support of UNHCR’s work in Nigeria. Prior to that February 2017 date, 100% of funds for UNHCR intervention work in Nigeria came from foreign donors.
In 2020, he collaborated with other Nigerian artists on the song "We Will Win" as a tribute to frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. That same year, he became the first Nigerian Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
After the announcement, his wife, Annie Idibia, celebrated him, saying, “2baba has been a committed high-level supporter Of UNHCR’s #LuQuLuQu Campaign. In this role, he has dedicated his time to uplifting the narrative of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa.”
2Baba’s contributions have raised awareness, supported, and advocated for positive change. His dedication to social causes, his longevity and influence in the industry, his versatility as an artist, and his iconic status differentiate him from other Nigerian musicians. Through the "Vote Not Fight" campaign, and the 2Baba Foundation, 2Baba has demonstrated his commitment to social change, peacebuilding, and addressing pressing social issues in Nigeria. His efforts have raised awareness, inspired action, and contributed to a more inclusive and peaceful society.
This is a partner-led post.