‘After my illness, I now understand life better’
What do you think is responsible for the infightings in FUMAN today?
Let me state here categorically that FUMAN is my baby, there is nothing hidden about this. I initiated the idea, so I don't know how it is possible for some people to take away my baby from me.
So why the tussle over the post of National Chairman of FUMAN?
If I accept the role of national chairman, honestly I will consider it as a great honour to my personality because the whole thing about FUMAN was started by me. I did everything possible to make sure the association survived. I financed it and put it in good stead. I used my money to get it registered under the Copyright Commission in Abuja through my lawyer, Sola Abidakun. I gave the FUMAN project to him as an assignment. After the registration, we set up a panel to draft the constitution right here in my office. They were there day and night brainstorming. At a point, those who had nothing to contribute stepped aside, but Sikiru Kolotiti stayed on because he also believed in the project. He was here day and night. At last, they came up with something concrete to form the constitution of FUMAN. That time, if I had wanted to infuse favourable elements into the constitution, nobody would have stopped me. I had the opportunity to do certain things that I believed was wrong. If I had put it in the constitution that they should call me the Alpha and Omega, who will be talking about the chairman's post today? Rather, I intensified efforts to get across to fuji leaders and concerned others. I went to Alhaji Barrister and Kollington and we made them trustees. I did not say I wanted to be the only one who made things happen in FUMAN, I extended board membership to everyone who showed interest. We made Dauda Epo Akara one of the trustees, but he died and we decided to give it to another respected fuji musician from Ibadan, so we gave it to Iyanda Sawaba. After sometime, Alhaji Kollington's mother died. Alhaji called me and said he wanted my support just like I gave Alhaji Barrister when his mother died. I gladly agreed to offer my assistance. At that time, I had various shows overseas but I cancelled all of them because of the tragic development. The first question I asked Kollington though was if he had contacted Barrister. I knew they were not in good terms, but because I wanted a unified house, we both went to Alhaji Barrister's house and the issue was resolved. After we resolved the issue, we called a meeting at LTV8 where we presented the certificate of FUMAN to the elders of the association.
Are you saying you are not interested in the chairmanship of FUMAN?
Honestly, I consider it a very big task. I am the father and creator of this association and that is one thing you can't take away from me. I called every other person to come and participate after I had conceived the idea. So, if I am given the role of the national chairman, I will consider it a great honour from them, but then it is also a very big burden.The fact still remains that I am myself, nothing has changed. So, whether I prostrated for Alhaji Barrister or Osupa Saheed, and Obesere prostrates for me changes nothing about me. All we are doing are ways of giving honour to whom it is due. If we are in the same family, there is no doubt one will prostrate for another. Let me tell you that there are times you have to leave nonsense and face the reality. The nonsense here is this stupid rivalry among fuji musicians in the country, while the reality is for us to come together and make things right. This is what I have been doing since I started FUMAN.
What are you doing to put a stop to the animosity in FUMAN?
I am not the one who is going to put a stop to it because people need to get the facts about FUMAN, just like you are doing now. I want to believe that not many people knew that I had played all these roles in putting FUMAN together and that's because the people there are being economical with the truth. With the level I have attained now, I give thanks to God, especially after what I went through when I was indisposed. The leaders need to do what is right. All I know is that I don't want any crisis in FUMAN. I stand to gain nothing if the house is divided, but a lot to gain if we are one. I have never hidden myself from the excos, it is their conscience that is nudging them. As for me, I am for a united house. They know what to do, but pride won't let them.
And what is that?
By admitting that they erred and agree to move forward with the support of all. I honestly don't want to join issues with anybody in any form, I don't have room for that. What bothers me now is how to live my life in a progressive way. As far as I am concerned, I won't join issues with anybody at all.
What is your view of life now after your illness?
God has given me the opportunity to see things the better way. I have come to a better understanding of life and I really give thanks to Almighty God for sparing mine. I have come to realise that time is too short to live. The good we do is what lives after us. I have come to value people more than I even used to. Material things don't matter to me in this life again. I'm more interested in affecting the lives of people positively.
Is that why you want to go into politics?
I am already in politics, but I am not going for any elective office.
Recent report had it that you were warming up for the House of Assembly in Lagos
Don't believe everything you read. You have asked and I'm telling you that I am not contesting for any elective post.
If there is an opportunity to bring you, Obesere, Osupa and other fuji musicians on stage, will you take it?
The issue on ground is quite different from what you are talking about. Coming to perform on stage, why won't I? For example, at Dele Momodu's birthday last month, I was there, Shina Peters was there, Evangelist Ebenezer Obey was there. So, if by chance I am asked to perform on stage with any artist, even Obesere, I will.
What exactly is it with you that you are being seen as the problem with FUMAN?
What I don't like is when I am being accused as the problem of the association. How can I be the problem of over hundred thousand people? I read Obesere's interview where he said I collected money from Lagos state government on behalf of the association. That is a very big insult to me as a person. But I am not bothered about it because the government he was referring to is still in power. He can go there and make enquiries and they will tell him if I had been given money on behalf of the association. The only thing I did was to use my connection to improve the Nigerian music industry. I have my own project which I forwarded it to the government because of my relationship with it. When I was putting my neck into problems by following them to campaigns, by supporting them with everything in me to make sure the party emerged winner, where were they? So, if at the end of the day I write a proposal and the government approves it,then I don't know why they are shouting that I collected money on behalf of the association. I did not collect money from the government on behalf of FUMAN. We did a project on health matters and it was accepted, so why all the noise about the project I had with the government?
Why health, was it because of your experience?
No, not only that. It was just a project out of many. There is a particular one I gave to some fuji musicians and I featured Kolotiti. I was also a part of it. There was another one that we did where I featured 9ice, Muma Gee, Shasha and other great performers in the industry.
Kolotiti is your friend. What have you done for others?
Don't let us go there. I have done more for almost every fuji musician in this country, but none of them has done anything for me. As I talk to you, not a message has come from FUMAN saying anything about how they took my illness, not even a call or a text. It only shows that they didn't wish me well. But like I said, FUMAN is my baby. As a father, I will always forgive them. Whether they like it or not, I am above a lot of them. God has made it so. Why fight it? They should just accept it and pray to God to do same for them. I'm not where I am by my own doing, it is God's grace. I have done a lot for for the development of Nigerian music, for fuji and for fuji musicians, no need naming names.
Alhaji Barrister reportedly warned FUMAN executives to resolve the problem in the association within six months, especially as regards the crisis of chairman. He was specific by mentioning your name as the founder of FUMAN. How do you react to this?
I think he said that as a good father who wants peace to reign in his household. Another thing I want them to know is that you should never be ungrateful to somebody who has established something good. They are shouting FUMAN today because it has yielded positive result. None of those shouting have ever given me a dime to run the association or put any amount in my care. So, if they want to settle with me, they should use a more befitting approach than just digging the ground and burying themselves in it at the same time. The worst they can do is to leave FUMAN for me and go register another association where they can do what they want. If they want it like that, so be it. But the fact still remains that the progress of FUMAN is my greatest goal.
On artists blackmailing another to make a name or sell his album.
Honestly, it is an act of ignorance. How can you use a whole side of an album to abuse your colleague and people will buy it? Is that what they call good music? I don't have the time for that. I am too busy to start disrespecting my colleagues because I want to sell my album. They keep saying I am their problem because of what God has done for me