"When you're finished changing, you're finished" - Benjamin Franklin
PMAN (The Performing Musicians' Employers Association of Nigeria) had their Annual Delegates Conference to Elect New Leadership for the next two years on Wednesday the 26th of January. The Conference was held in Osogbo, Osun State and hosted Delegates, Members and Representatives of PMAN from all over Nigeria who were present to decide the future of the Union. The conference also saw the brief attendance of PMAN's founding President, the Legendary King Sunny Ade, current Governor of Osun State Alhaji Rauf Aregbesola, as well as Former President Chief Tony Okoroji.
The truth of the matter is that, over the years, there has been a major disconnect between PMAN and the very professionals it is supposed to represent and/or protect. At its inception, this is a snapshot of who the founding members were: Chief (Mrs.) Christy Essien Igbokwe, King Sunny Ade (KSA), Evang. Sunny Okosuns (late), Chief Ebenezer Obey, Lemmy Jackson, Tee-Mac Omatshola Iseli, Emma Ogosi, Laolu Akins, Funmi Adams, Oby Onyioha, Maliki Showman, Harry Mosco, King Pago, Bobby Benson etc. Anyone remotely familiar with Nigerian Music History will agree that this was in the very least, an excellent representation of who were the significant PERFORMING MUSICIANS of that era. Part of the Union's Constitution that these great artistes put together can be found online at http://pmanonline.net/about.html.
Fast forward to today; PMAN is now a shadow of what it used to be, and essentially a disgrace to the legacy those that came before us put forth. Nigerian Musicians are achieving worldwide success in leaps and bounds, yet a snapshot of today's union shows that absolutely NONE of the significant musicians representing Nigeria are involved in the runnings of PMAN. Nigerian Musicians have accomplished great things in spite of a Union that no longer cares or caters to their needs; in spite of a Union that has been run down by greed, poor leadership and an archaic mentality; in spite of a Union that has alienated the very Professionals it is supposed to care for.
They say you should "be the change you want to see in the world". It was with this in mind, that today's crop of Nigerian Musicians attempted to rejoin PMAN en masse, and get involved in its leadership. We heard through the grapevine that the current administration's leadership term had come to end, and that the Organization was as frustrated as we the artistes were about the state of things. There were tales of offices shutting down, of staff salaries being unpaid, of rundown or nonexistent studios around the country and a total lack of organization; and so the artistes held a series of meetings. We all came up with a team of executives amongst ourselves, that we felt represented a cross section of Nigerian Music today. A team that did not necessarily comprise of the most popular musicians, but a team that on the one hand represented a solid cross section of Nigerian Music, as well as one that would be willing and able to put in the work necessary to right a sinking ship. The team included names like: eLDee The Don, Mr Cool, KSB, M.I., Sound Sultan, Ed Jatto, Efe Omoruegbe of Now Music etc.
The team made the journey to Osogbo along with other people including D'banj, Don Jazzy, Jesse Jagz, Wande Coal, 2Shotz, Dr Sid, D'Prince, Ice Prince, Baba Dee, and yours truly Banky W. Other artistes who were part of the meetings but did not make the trip included P'Square, 9ice, Tuface Idibia, WizKid and Skales. That we were able to assemble such an incredible cast of people under such short notice was a miracle in and of itself, but it also goes to show the frustration with the way things are and the willingness to work to bring about change. The purpose of our making the trip was to appeal to the powers that be at PMAN to vote for and put in the new team of leaders, and give them (us) a chance at resuscitating a failed Union; a chance at restoring PMAN to its glory days; a chance at restoring it to a place of relevance and a chance at Uniting the Body with the very members its supposed to comprise of. Safe to say I believe even the founders would have been proud at the Contingent of Artistes behind this movement, as I'm sure that's what they envisioned when they started this years ago.
What we found when we arrived in Osogbo was heart breaking. A system that is in rot and decay; a mindset that is so stuck in the ways of the past and an unwillingness to accept the realities of the present, much less step into the future. One would think that PMAN officials and delegates would accept the appeals coming from its Musicians; if they had accepted us, PMAN would automatically become a force to be reckoned with overnight as it would now TRULY represent all Nigerian Musicians, young and old; those in the limelight and those in the twilight of their careers.
Sadly, this was not to be. We came with respect on our minds, appealing to those that had been in the rundown system for years, to let us help rebuild it. We came "dobale-ing"; we pleaded, begged, offered all kinds of opportunities and the resources at our disposal. We offered to lead but to do so by serving. We offered to help restore relevance; to empower PMAN Nationally and at the State levels and so much more.
We were met with resistance, bitterness, slander and ignorance. People so afraid of any kind of change that they would rather cling on to a sinking ship than reach out and get on to a helicopter. And those that were apparently willing to accept the change, expected us to play the same old ignorant tactics that our corrupt Politicians play to get there. Ironically, what we saw yesterday was reflective of what is wrong with Nigeria as a whole.
We have one message to PMAN, and to Nigeria as a whole. Change will come. It will. They say the only thing that remains constant in Life is Change. The fact that Change will come is inevitable; we can choose to embrace it or evade it, but it will be to our progress or peril.. our development or demise. History is rife with instances where people were given an opportunity to choose either of these options, and the consequences that followed. PMAN was given an opportunity to choose to make History and to choose to change the failed ways of the past, and it declined, because we refused to stoop to reducing our standards. Dear PMAN Delegates (and Nigerian Politicians), please understand that we will NOT buy (or sell) Votes. What we are working for is so much more long term and the payout is infinitely greater than the here and now.
What they refused to realize is this: the ACTUAL Performing Musicians and Recording Artistes in Nigeria are determined to right the wrongs of our industry, with or without PMAN. That they declined is inconsequential to us. Our journey continues, but we strongly believe that they will remember and regret this day.
Our message to PMAN is as Benjamin Franklin once said “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished”.
- Banky W.