For Kolade Oludare Success, Abuja should be the centre of entertainment. The CEO of Succex Multimedia Limited in this interview with ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM explains why Abuja-based entertainers deserve more respect.
You job involves grooming artistes and working to make Abuja-based entertainers well known, but it seems that Abuja artistes are not given preference when it comes to events. How can this jinx be broken?
This is the whole idea about Abuja artistes. Abuja artistes themselves are not helping themselves; an average Abuja artiste is so lazy, only very few work hard.
Really? Please explain more…
If you are working with an Abuja artiste just know that the man or lady is not very hardworking. On the long run I still don’t blame them. As an artiste you have been doing everything possible to blow but everywhere you go to you get discouraged because it seems like everything is tied around Lagos and if you look at it, Abuja is supposed to be controlling anything that is entertainment in this country, this is the centre, the arrow head where every decision is being made. People need to rise up against this. Not just the artiste, everybody needs to rise up to this including the government. I am not expecting the government to give money to artistes; but there must be structures that encourage artiste promotion. Enough is enough of telling us you are promoting entertainment on the pages of newspapers and you are attaching big money to it, let there be a structure, like a Nigerian entertainment council whereby an average artiste who has the required talent can walk in there and ask for assistance without politics coming into play.
How do you think the government can go about building this structure?
In building that structure, let there be synergy between the media, which is the major hub of entertainment promotion. Why people think that Abuja entertainers are jinxed and why the whole thing boils down to Lagos is because private sectors are more domiciled in Lagos. When you see an average person in Abuja they are politicians, civil servants or private organisations lobbying for contracts. When the government places the said structures in Abuja, entertainers in Lagos will have no where than to fly into Abuja and pursue their career. For example, In Abuja now, there are some media houses that even if you take your music there to be played you will be asked for money as an upcoming artiste, even to perform in shows they are asked how much they will drop. This is supposed to be the other way round; you are supposed to appreciate the musician for coming to take care of the crowd. I believe that when there is such a council they will be able to regulate all this things.
You’ve also advocated for ICT integration in the past…
Yes I have. You see, everyone in music should know where to subscribe to get talent. With the establishment of the earlier mentioned council, those interested in entertainment content will just visit their online hub to listen to their favourite artistes and subscribe to the artiste as against the trend of sending your songs to different music sites and praying that they feature your song.
But don’t you think the average Abuja-based entertainer should be more hard-working instead of complaining that Lagos-based artistes get all the praise?
This is true. Abuja artistes just have to be more hard working. I have shot so many videos for different acts and I have never seen them released publicly. Yet, my clients pay me so much for them. When I ask the artistes why they haven’t released them, their answer is usually “it’s there.” Things like this contribute to an artist’s downfall. Abuja artistes must at all cost rise up to the challenge by stepping up their game. It is only in Abuja you see an artiste whose parents are perhaps comfortable, they don’t just want to go and hustle. Also, Abuja residents need to stop going to Lagos to shop for talent, it doesn’t make any sense, you pay more. Take me as an example, I can easily call an artiste in Lagos for an event and I will have to pay for flights, meanwhile there is an artiste here that will rock my event better without paying for flights or any other thing. Just half of the money I am begging one superstar to collect, the upcoming artiste will use it, take it to the studio and he will perform more because he will be encouraged.
But in the past the government has supported the entertainment industry by setting up intervention funds. Are you saying it’s not enough?
Frankly, I don’t think it is. The government must put in structures because entertainment is big business all over the world. If the government can take entertainment seriously and stop telling us they are releasing a million dollars on the pages of newspapers that will never get to the pockets of any artiste because I have never seen any artiste who have benefitted from such. Most successful musicians all over the world are not known with well to do families, many come from the gutter. The government needs to see upcoming and established acts as raw material that can be another source of revenue for the country away from oil. Entertainment is a big thing. If the government says ‘this is the support we are giving an upcoming artiste’ and the artiste discovers ‘this is where my support is coming from,’ tell me why Nigerian youths will not love the government.
This support you mention, is it in terms of finances?
The mistake the past governments have made is thinking you have to monetise talent. Talent is like a raw material, it doesn’t bring out the quality until it has gone through some refinement. When you manage talent the right way, it will turn to raw cash but when you give money to the said talent for the talent to grow without guidance, the reverse will be the case. The support I speak of doesn’t have to come in money, the government needs to put that structure that will support entertainers, give them that platform. Recently President Obama hosted some entertainers in the White house; the only time Nigerian entertainers are hosted in our presidential Villa is for political reasons. We must wake up to all these realities that it is only when elections are two months away that the person looking for re-election bid will start calling all the entertainers and even fly to Lagos because he knows that the entertainment hub is in Lagos not Abuja and you will see our entertainers dress up to honour the meeting. We have lost our pride, we are not standing our ground like we are entertainers, and without us there is no social life. Tell me that the government can survive without entertainment. It is not all about releasing billions of naira that we never see. When you do what you are supposed to do, money will come into play, put in place platforms that will promote Nigerian artistes.
You also advocate for the promotion of culture in Nigerian music
Yes. In fact, President Buhari needs to put in a worthy Minister of Culture that will be in charge of entertainment and showcase Nigeria to the world. Let us wake up and stop using Nigerian money to travel to other countries to promote their culture.
As a promoter, which artistes are you currently working with?
We have one of the hottest guys in the UK that has been making Nigerians proud: Hafeez. This guy is from the North. He decided to come back home and be known instead of only in the UK. He also decided that coming home he was not going to go to Lagos but he wanted to paint a different picture about what the North is outside violence.
As a cinematographer and movie producer, what are the major challenges you have encountered?
I am the first and still remain the only movie producer that uses the history of Nigeria as a reference point for movies. I have never seen a movie that chronicles the life of any of our past leaders. For example, I wrote and produced a movie titled Ebele which focused mainly on the rise to the top of our Ex President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. My team and I moved from place to place looking for support. I did not even go to PDP because I did not want people to use it as a campaign tool; I saw it as a moral tool for children to use to learn. I spent close to N4million on the project. All the places we went to including Bayelsa State Government via the Commissioner of Tourism promised to support us. Immediately Jonathan lost the election, we received no support from anywhere.
What, in your opinion, is the way forward?
Nigerian youths must continue to work hard, don’t be discouraged. The government should take entertainment as a priority. Abuja must be seen as the centre of where everything starts from, you can’t build a fine city like this and there is no entertainment hub. Thumbs up for the likes of Kenny Ogungbe of Kennis music that made Remedies what they were and is also responsible for the rise of 2face Idibia to the legendary status he now enjoys. The government is working but they need to do more. The presence must be there, during the AMAA awards everybody is glued to their TV, tell me that one project we do in Nigeria that makes all of Africa glued to their TVs? During Big Brother Africa you will see the kind of attention it pulls; must everything come from South Africa? We are the largest black nation; they say the more the head the better, what’s our problem? Thank God President Buhari is here to cut down corruption so let us put up a structure because corruption is one of the greatest things that is eating up entertainment.