Seyi Tinubu: Speaking up regardless, by Olawale Ganiyu

Recently, Seyi, the son of President Bola Tinubu, became the focus of a fierce campaign after he shared a quote on Instagram that offered consolation to Nigerians who were struggling with the removal of fuel subsidies and the central bank’s reform of the exchange rate.

I felt compelled to get an unbiased interpretation of what happened, one that might not have been free of opposition-sponsored hate campaigns aimed at discrediting the incumbent government. On social media, images of Seyi sporting a Richard Mille watch had gone viral, portraying him as an exploitative son reaping the benefits of his father’s labors. However, a Google search would have revealed that this is not at all possible.

For the record, Seyi is no stranger to taking on responsibility, exercising influence, and driving social change.

Over 100 people work for Seyi’s company, Loatsad Promomedia, the majority of whom are young people. Also, all across the nation are representatives of his foundation, Noella, who are also young people.

There was a time when social media encouraged factual discussions, where the synthesis of ideas was the order of the day. Today, it has become a fertile ground for hateful rhetoric and irrational discourse where “might is right” and the negatives are amplified while positives are relegated to the background.

There is anger in Nigeria. This is a fact considering the upsets fueled by the bitter economic pills the country has had to endure, but I found out that the constant attacks on Seyi did not just start when his father became president. They started attacking him years ago simply because he is the son of the man who played a key role in dislodging the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from power.

In the recent round, they went as far as hacking his wife’s social media charity page. Attacking a charity that is focused on helping Nigerians in these trying times shows a deep hatred for Nigerians who are the beneficiaries of that charity. If they could do that openly, one can only wonder what they are doing privately to undermine the country and the government, not minding how it affects the common man.

Contrary to all the talks about Seyi having an expensive watch, a little research will reveal that his business, Loatsad Promomedia is one of the biggest advertising companies in Nigeria and that did not happen by sheer coincidence but by dedication and ingenuity.

When his firm got the rights for outdoor advertising at the Falomo Bridge. The entire site was water at the time. Loatsad had to sand-fill and dredge the site, transforming the place into something. This is part of the success story of the firm which enabled it to acquire E-Motion Advertising, owned by Sim Shagaya, co-founder of Konga, back in 2019.

Loatsad, on its strength, has been able to work with a lot of multinationals and partnered with many international platforms like Airpush, Shazam, Rocketfuel, and Snapchat for pop-up ads on your mobile. They were even involved in business discussions at the global headquarters of Facebook in Seattle, United States, in 2016.

These are big strides that Seyi and his partners have been able to achieve but are constantly downplayed because his father is an influential politician. And sadly this is also the reason his lifestyle is constantly under scrutiny while peers who live more ostentatiously are hardly ever singled out. The burden of being a President’s son?

Seyi’s philanthropic nature has never been hidden, but the sponsored attacks on Seyi are so carefully carried out that reports of his deeds and accomplishments are either suppressed or twisted. This ensures that most people remain unaware that Seyi, who is a lawyer, runs the philanthropic Noella Foundation along with his wife, Layal, which they set up over five years ago.

Shop owners at the Falomo fish market in Lagos, which he rebuilt in 2019, remain forever grateful to him. In 2020, during the COVID-19 lockdown, while many elected officials were hoarding food in warehouses, which later triggered protests, Seyi’s Foundation partnered with YBNL and Food Clique to donate 30 thousand food packs to people affected by the lockdown. In September 2023, the foundation gave out food to victims of the Akwanga fire disaster in Nasarawa and donated N2m in cash to them. Just days ago, the foundation in partnership with others, gifted 600 widows and 100 children food palliatives and financial aid in Abuja just to ameliorate their suffering.

Nigerians who received his sponsored medical outreach in Abuja last year are similarly grateful to the young man who has continued to show compassion despite that he does not hold any office and has never been voted for.

One of Seyi’s closest persons says Seyi was “surprised” to see his well-intended post so twisted when he was only calling for good cheer because he recognized how difficult things are for people today.

He said some elements “asked people to forget what I said and focus on a watch I owned for years, now aiming to devalue what I said. I’m fine with personal attacks, I’m just not fine with how they use the hardship and emotions of Nigerians for their political gains.”

I was curious as to whether he might deflect the criticisms by ignoring the country’s situation. Interestingly, he refuses to be silenced by the attacks.

“I won’t stop speaking out. Imagine a world where no influential person spoke up or helped those less fortunate. Do you think you’d like that? In the comments I read on my social media, people ask me to ‘talk to Baba.’ ‘Speak out for us.’ ‘Help us tell Tinubu to think about the youth. ’ If I stopped speaking out, how would this be possible?” Seyi asked.

Seyi is neither a politician nor an elected official and is thus under no compulsion to do these things, but he does them all the same.

Olawale Ganiyu, a Political Affairs Analyst, writes from Lagos.