I have told the story in the last edition of Saturday Breakfast of how PMAN was founded in 1982 following a meeting at Sunny Ade’s Ariya Night Club on Ikorodu Road in the Jibowu area of Lagos. The key issue that brought PMAN into being was the piracy problem that was ravaging the growing Nigerian music industry. I attended the meeting. King Sunny Ade was elected interim President. Steve Gboyega Adelaja was elected Interim General Secretary and I was mandated to assist him. Christ Essien Igbokwe became PMAN’s first Treasurer.
Not too long after PMAN was formed and King Sunny Ade passed on the leadership to Sonny Okosun, the association began to slide. Faced by tremendous challenges of funding and the usual leadership disputes, the organization formed with so much expectation lost its sheen. The result was that five years down the road, PMAN had become a shadow of itself. Emma Ogosi, then General Secretary, was the only glue that held PMAN together.
How did I get involved in the PMAN leadership forest that practically changed my life? By 1987, the only organization that seemed to be addressing the piracy problem which brought PMAN into being was not PMAN but the Nigerian chapter of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) led by Keji Okunowo. Unfortunately, IFPI which was reasonably well funded was viewed with a lot of suspicion by many Nigerian musicians. It was considered by a significant number to be a gang up of the multinational recording companies to exploit local artistes. The fact that a number of indigenous labels had become members of IFPI did not change that view.
IFPI had planned an international seminar on piracy which held at the Lagos Sheraton, Ikeja, on July 23 and 24, 1987. The big wigs of the music industry worldwide were scheduled to be at the seminar and the Nigerian government was going to be represented at very high level. PMAN was invited to present a paper at the seminar. General Secretary, Emma Ogosi was concerned that the PMAN paper must be of such quality that did not disgrace the association. He came to see me at my Oregun Road office of EMI where I was a producer and Artiste & Repertoire man. Ogosi was worried and explained the situation to me. He appealed that I write and present a paper on behalf of the association at the IFPI seminar. I had never written a seminar paper in my life and did not understand why Ogosi had chosen me to represent PMAN at such a high-profile event.
The seminar turned out to be an emotional outing for me because my own recordings such as “Juliana”, “Mama & Papa” and “Locomotion” had fallen victims to music piracy which was destroying the industry. My song, “Oriaku” had just been widely used, without permission, by a major advertising agency, for radio and TV commercials to promote an aromatic beverage. My music was on the radio everywhere but there was little money to show for all the noise.
So, on July 23, 1987, at the main hall of Lagos Sheraton Hotel, I delivered a paper which I titled A SONG CALLED PIRACY. The paper got a generous reception at the event which was well attended by national and international experts. An intense question and answer session followed the presentation and I dealt with the questions as honestly as I could. A Song Called Piracy was published unedited by several national newspapers.
At about the time of the IFPI seminar, Emma Ogosi was back at my EMI office with a team which included one Goddie Odik and Temiro Babarosa, all of them, die hard believers in PMAN. After the usual pleasantries, the Ogosi team went in a round- about manner to talk about the dream that musicians had at the formation of PMAN and how the dream was dying because of all the problems the association had faced and how the association needed a brand-new leadership to refocus and pursue the vision.
They went on to say that my lack of hesitation in doing the paper for the IFPI seminar had convinced them that I could provide the leadership PMAN required. It all sounded crazy and I told the delegation as much. I reminded them that I was given the job of an Assistant Secretary at PMAN and I could not perform and they were suggesting that I take on the job of President of a very fractured and penniless association! The continuously ringing telephone in my office and the number of people in the waiting lounge should have been enough to convince the delegation that their candidate did not have the time. Apparently, they ignored those facts.
We argued and argued. I told the team that I believed that PMAN did not just need a new President but a different image. I suggested some names which could give PMAN a team with a different world view. At the end of the day, an agreement was reached that in the event that the delegation was able to get the aforementioned individuals to accept to serve in a PMAN Executive Council, their offer could be considered. If I had any idea how that meeting was going to change my life, I would have chased the gentlemen out of my office!
The gentlemen did go away but came back after a few days to say that they had succeeded in convincing those mentioned at the last meeting to serve in a new PMAN Executive Council. There was no further excuse that could be invented except to inform the group that I had no interest in engaging in any election campaign. That was not going to stop the PMAN delegation, as they undertook to do any campaigning necessary. The nomination forms and other formalities were therefore completed.
On July 27, 1987, at the age of 29, I was elected National President of PMAN. Onyeka Onwenu was elected First Vice President, Laolu Akins became Second Vice President, Demos Deniran took office as Treasurer and Emma Ogosi stayed on as General Secretary. The new leadership inherited an unkept secretariat with a backlog of rent, two unskilled and frustrated staff members who had not been paid any salary for over a year, very little furniture, no telephone, one old Olympia manual typewriter, no fan not to talk of air conditioners, an incredible amount of expectation, a lot of debt and absolutely no money.
I also quickly received the usual Nigerian present from one Aigbe Lebarty who lost in the elections – a deluge of court cases and unending defamation of character. As if the problems were not enough, a few weeks after, Emma Ogosi, the only person in the team who had any idea where to start from, resigned as General Secretary, without notice.
The resignation of Ogosi was a huge blow. It was part of the agreement with me that Ogosi would stay. To be fair to Ogosi, he had gone through a harrowing experience with PMAN. He had a fulltime job with a lot of responsibility, but there was no money to even buy stationary not to talk of paying his salary. Things became so bad for Ogosi that one tiny room in the PMAN secretariat became his residence. He had no money to pay rent anywhere. For months, Ogosi shared his little room with his girlfriend of the time. While in the tiny room at PMAN, Ogosi had found time to polish his girlfriend’s singing style and together they produced an album that changed the narrative. Just as the transition was taking place at PMAN, fortune smiled at the couple. The rather simple music style of Evi Edna Ogoli went off like a rocket! Thereafter, everyone was singing and dancing to the music of Evi Edna Ogholi – from “Obaro” to “Oghene Me” to “One Kilometer” to “Ririovara”, etc., etc.
Emma Ogosi had had enough of PMAN. The couple, who later got married at a celebrated ceremony in Port Harcourt, moved from the tiny room at 1 Oremeji Street Ikeja to a big house in the Adeniyi Jones area of the city and started a magazine called Magenta. Evi Edna Ogholi became Evi Edna Ogosi.
They left me with PMAN and its many problems. (To be continued).