Becoming the president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), used to be determined by campaigns and votes. After the reign of Charles Oputa (Charly Boy), which saw a lot of changes in the music house, the house has been divided, and factions had risen. Admiral Dele Abiodun, a former vice president of the body, claims to have won an election which makes him the current president.

But another faction is led by Tee-Mac Omatsola. This has deepened the crisis in the association. After many court cases and pronouncements, the music house is yet to resolve its differences while young and up-coming artistes have decided to shun the association and face their career all alone. Oseyiza Oogbodo met the gladiators.

Can you tell us what you went to do in South Africa?
Well, the International Federation of Musicians, that means the unions, had their 19th congress from the 30th of September to the 5th of October in Johannesburg. It was a very, very progressive and interesting coming together of a hundred and fifty-six presidents of different musicians’ unions. The congress was opened by Hugh Masekela, then Sithole, the president of the South Africa union, then the Minister of Culture, the Mayor of Johannesburg, and the president of the Federation of International Musicians (FIM). Then came up all kinds of motions and I moved the motion which was accepted and the motion had to do with work permission which is now binding to the whole world which says, ‘The congress requests that FIM lobbies governments to ensure that musicians’ unions are consulted when applications for work permits are received from musicians from other countries.

Resident musicians of the unions are best placed to determine if an application is legitimate or opportunities to resident musicians may be under threat.’ In essence, this means no foreign artiste can perform in Nigeria anymore without the promoter coming to PMAN who will direct them to the immigrations services that they instruct the relevant embassies to issue visas with work permission. Any musician performing in Nigeria without work permit will be reported to his home union and blacklisted. Secondly, he will not be allowed to enter the stage.

Thirdly, we discussed also double taxation. I’m just from a meeting with the Federal Inland Revenue Service, but in Lagos State, we’ll call it entertainment levy. Everywhere in the world, when you earn money, you pay income tax, so those who perform in Nigeria, they will pay money on the income which is 25%.

Also, every musician who performs in Nigeria will submit to PMAN a list of the songs to be performed because PMAN is now registering our own collecting agency so we can collect and make payment. This is to entice all musicians to join PMAN now because the radio and TV stations will start paying performance royalties and compensation rights to PMAN and we’ll pay to our members. If you are not a member of PMAN, we don’t know where to find you so your money will be used for maintenance of the union.

But musicians claim the membership fee of PMAN is too expensive.
PMAN charges just N3, 500 for membership. That’s a very little amount of money for all the services we can give. Compared to musicians’ unions internationally, it’s very little.

How many registered members does PMAN have?
I don’t know. We’re updating. Each state chapter is putting in now information. But the last information for one state chapter was about 700 members but there are about 400, 000 professional musicians in Nigeria so we’re trying to get them all under the umbrella, but I think we’ll end up with maybe 20 or 30, 000 members.

We all know PMAN is divided …
(Interrupts) Sorry, but then you are not up to date. We had about three months ago arranged a reconciliation meeting. We have joined the other faction. The second vice president of Admiral’s faction is sitting in that office there in charge of the anti-piracy committee and the first vice president under Admiral, Emma Ogosi, is in charge of the committee handling the collecting agency, so there’s no faction existing.

Before this PMAN thing, you and Admiral Dele Abiodun were friends. What’s your relationship now?
Dele Abiodun has been my friend for twenty years and he’s still my friend. If he comes in here (PMAN Secretariat), he’s always welcome. I have no problems with him. He has a problem with Charly Boy, not me.