Vociferous Nigerian hip-hop artiste, Eedris Abdulkareem, strongly believes that the music industry in the country will soon overtake the oil and gas sector, in terms of revenue. Abdulkareem, whose ‘Nigeria Jaga Jaga’ album had unsettled top officials of the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, speaks on crucial national issues in this interview with ADELEKE ADESANYA. He also says his fans should expect an ‘unusual’ package in his next album. Excerpts:
What is your perception of the Nigerian music industry?
Nigeria is a blessed country, to the extent that whatever you do, you will survive. And for the music industry in Nigeria, it is another oil and gas industry for the youths to explore. Though the industry is still growing, even at that, it still compares fairly well with other sectors in this country. So, for me, the industry is a blessing to the nation.
These days, artistes in both the music and movie sub-sectors of the entertainment industry are delving into politics. Do you also have any plan to go into politics?
That is what they think is the next thing on their agenda. As for me, I am a musician, I’m not a politician; and even if I find myself there, I don’t think it will work, because music is what I know how to do best. I don’t believe in dabbling into what I don’t know how to do because of money.
The telecommunication industry seems to be in good business with musicians in the country, looking at the different artistes being paraded as brand ambassadors for various companies. What is your take on this?
What you are seeing around is nothing but propaganda. The telecommunication industries in this country are taking advantage of our people a lot. They are using our people to make so much money while the artists are tipped with stipends. For instance, recently, they brought in some young musicians and gave them endorsement worth N20 million and then used their songs to make millions upon millions of naira. Disappointedly, these people are ignorant; they didn’t even know how bad they were being cheated, because what they gave them basically was in the ratio of 20 to 80 per cent. I can’t imagine such slavery we are into with these people.
There is a deal your group, the Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria has with Microsoft and Airtel, will that not be a rip-off too?
No. Our deal with Airtel is an indication that the real new PMEAN has come back together. And as for the former leaders that have stolen our money, lands and properties, we are waiting for them. We have the facts on ground to implicate all of them. Their names will not be mentioned now. We were given land to build music and audio-visual village in Abuja. And a few criminals, who happened to be PMEAN executives then, capitalised on these opportunities and stole the lands. Now, we have caught them. And we have been able to also let them understand that we have gone ahead to find out at the Corporate Affairs Commission, all the necessary facts we need to know on this issue, and very soon, they will be shocked.
It is disappointing that Nigerian musicians are just going all about their gate fees’ business and they don’t know they are being ripped off. But the beautiful thing is that Pretty Okafor is coming on board and he is bringing all the multinationals. Don’t forget that he was a musician by profession in the 70s, 80s, to the 90s, till he went into the corporate world and handled projects like Bensons and Hedges back then, if you can remember. So this guy has been there; and God just sent him to come and help so that our children can benefit from our sweat. This is because it would be a great loss if, at the end of our struggle, we don’t have anything to leave for them like an estate. You seem to be a democracy crusader, looking at some of your songs in the past.
What is your view about President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration?
It is a new Nigeria; it’s a new change. Even though we know that the people that proposed the change don’t know what change is about, they just find themselves in that position because they are the same set of politicians who have been deceiving us.
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