Our Personality of the Week is the music maestro, Mr. Joe Morgan who just celebrated his 50th birthday. The Ika born minstrel known as ‘Dat-Agbor-Boy,’ who has become a household name both within and outside the country has in this exclusive interview revealed how he loves his culture and will always promote it through music.
May we know you Sir?
My name is Jonathan Ihienkaonye Morgan, popularly known as Joe Morgan, aka “DatAgborBoy”.
How did you come about the nickname, Dat Agbor Boy?
First and foremost I am a complete traditional person. I love my culture so much so that I believe that it is a way of attracting where I come from into my artistry and entertainment world. I would have preferred to call myself “Dat Ika Man,” but it’s ok. I am an Ika man to the core, born in Agbor in the late sixties.
Who are your parents?
My father was Dr. C. K Morgan, a legendary artiste, the original owowo king from Ime-Obi, while my mother is from the Egun family of Ute-Okpu. Both of them from Ika land; my dad was from Ika South and my Mum from Ika North-East. My dad died some years ago and my mum is still alive.
What was the occupation of your father?
My father was more or less an artiste and entertainer. He played guitar and almost all the string instruments. In addition, my dad was a sign artist and a drummer. In short, he was completely into the Arts, unlike me, just into the music aspect of it.
Can we say that your musical career originated from your father?
Yes. It’s an inheritance. Almost all my younger siblings are all into music. Some are complete guitarists. So it’s in the family. My dad was a polygamist; married to about five wives.
You said you are a traditional person to the core, can you elucidate that?
I love my culture so much. I am a Pan-Africanist and I have travelled far and wide. Sometimes, while in America, I do see some Chinese there who were born in America, speak English even better than the Americans yet they speak Chinese language fluently, and they bear Chinese names, holding on to their background. You can’t change the Chinese man but we the Africans, most especially Nigerians, are just lousy with our own background. Some of our children answering foreign names, they can’t even speak our dialect. My children don’t have English names; my father gave me my name so I can’t change it. If I had an opportunity to change Joe Morgan I would have changed it long ago as my children have traditional Ika names.
If you had the opportunity to change your name what would you have changed it to?
It’s Ihienkaonye Ihienkam Ezuonim. “I am contented with what I have.” That is the meaning of it.
How old were you when you started your music career?
At the age of eleven, I was already playing percussion instruments egogo, konga, and bongo with my dad in his band.
When did you formally become a musician?
Even when my father was alive I had my band inside my dad’s band. I was playing reggae music with daddy’s band men that were a little bit educated and could play different songs. So, before my dad came on stage my younger brother, Progress, and I would be playing different songs. When my dad died, I was in Lagos working with Zenith Bank, as I had read Accountancy at Yaba College of Technology. I left the school in 1990/1991 or thereabouts. After the death of my daddy, there was a strong reason to continue that legacy so I had to come back, reorganize the band and that is where we are today.
Did you have the mindset of going into music before going to read Accountancy?
Not actually. I didn’t like music particularly because of the lifestyles of musicians. My daddy used to smoke Indian hemp and drink a lot, but I was a decent guy and I didn’t like that attitude. My daddy’s friends then were people like Kampe, Ozuntie Arimokwu; they were the very rough guys and I didn’t like it. I never smoked I didn’t do alcohol. I never did that for once. When I was growing up I felt that music would make me smoke igbo, and cigarette, I never liked it. I therefore wanted to have something else for myself.
When I got to Lagos, I would have loved to read Theatre Arts, but my daddy’s younger sister, Veronica Morgan was a Director in one of the Banks, I was in her house and everything about that environment was banking and that was how I got to read Accounting just to get out of music. But when my dad died, there was that pressure that Dr. C.K. Morgan’s legacy should not die and there was that disorganization in the family, as there was no wheezing and somebody needed to come and take charge. A lot of my father’s friends wanted me to carry on the legacy of my father. I was called back home and I started reorganizing.
It was difficult to sing the Agbor song because I was already in school and even when I was in Yaba College of Technology, I was the President of the Youth reggae club. So singing Agbor song was quite difficult and I needed to bring in my brothers and two of them joined my band. One was playing bass guitar, the other one was playing lead guitar and I was at the middle singing. That was how the band was formed after my father’s demise.
Why was singing the Agbor song difficult for you?
The Ika language is not a very sweet and melodic language. If not because I was in music I wouldn’t have known that my dialect is not sweet. You know sweet dialects when you listen to Yoruba, Kwale, Ndokwa, Igbo songs. They are very sweet but Ika language is difficult to put into songs for a known Ika person to listen to it and like it. It is very difficult as you need to make it sweet for people to appreciate it.
There is something about your songs that when one plays them, there is the tendency to wonder if they are Ika songs; they are like refined language. How did you do it?
Yes, that was the best thing I could do. The first song I did, nobody liked it, as it was only my family and I that bought it when I released the album because my people in Ika land didn’t understand the song and they were saying I was not singing like my father. I couldn’t understand why I had to sell my music only in Ika land; I needed to sell it in Kwale, Asaba, etc and all other places. But, he is difficult, that’s why you see that it has been so difficult for other Ika musicians to breakeven that way. So, all I needed to do was to sing it like English. People here didn’t accept it, so how can an outsider accept it?
What I did was, I left all I was doing in Ika and did in English, a song titled ‘Do you love me’ and everyone then accepted it and started singing it and I then went back to Ika language. And now it is what everybody wants to sing and everybody wants to have. One thing is, our musicians here lack innovations; it is not that they are not good singers but the creativity is not there. That’s why when I started playing these songs, when I came in from Lagos, I introduced talking drum, I brought it with a Yoruba person and we started playing talking drum music. So my Yoruba friends in the community here felt at home and I drew them close to my music and Agbor, Ika music. So that’s the only way we can penetrate them. I had to bring in so many things. There is no musician in Ika land that played keyboard in their songs so I had to bring in keyboard. So these are the few things I needed to do to enable my music to look sweet and modern.
Do you know of the man that sang one song in Ika language in America?
Yes, His name is Nnamdi Aka OnoLyrics. He is my brother. He just left two months ago. We did two songs together. I stayed with him in Texas in America. One thing you must understand is that he is into religious songs but I sing contemporary music, so that is the difference. There is another funny thing about our people, Ika people prefer to accept music from neighbouring land more than their own. Talking about that young man, the guy needs to be encouraged. He comes here from the USA, he organizes shows but no Ika person encourages him.
Is it because there is no proper publicity?
It is not. Our people find it difficult to accept their own. If you carry Wizkid music and play it in the North, Hausa people will be looking at you until you play their song, but here we have not gotten to that stage but we will fight it, that’s just what we can do.
Do you have any measures in mind with which you can go about to tackle this issue?
First of all, it is like a publishing firm, you can’t have a publishing firm and sit in your house. You must have offices and offices must have sections, you must work and your work is in house. Most of the musicians here don’t have a recording studio to record their songs; they have to travel to other places. Like me, I used to go to Lagos, Awka, Benin and Asaba to produce my music until recently that I built my studio, which will be ready in the a couple of days. Now, I have a studio. The studio is not for public consumption, it is for my personal use but that does not mean my friends cannot use it for free. Don Jazzy has a studio, Timaya, P Square, Tuface, Wizkid they all have studios. That is why they can wake up in the night and record any idea that comes to their mind.
Music is like a beautiful girl you see across the window, if you don’t make haste and run downstairs, she will go. That’s how music is; it can come to your head by 2 am in the morning. If there is a studio you switch on your system and put the voice down and you go back to sleep. When you wake up the voice is there and you can remember the sequencing and know how to follow the beat, but if you don’t have a studio there is no way you can do good music.
Do you think the two studios in Ika land, one owned by the Obi’s son (Black bone) and the other by DJ Sakora are not up to standard to accommodate Ika people?
You know these are studios that can take care of what we have around. Black Bone has a bigger, larger idea and you can see his idea on the ground. It can accommodate artiste of every sort, if that studio is kept up to date. But what I have is personal and very sophisticated. I bought everything from the US and it’s personal because I want to challenge myself. A lot of young boys wish to be Joe Morgan and my name will not be complete if there is not another Joe Morgan coming up. Somebody needs to come up. How do they come up? Like when we were doing carnival, lots of young boys wanted to sing and they came and met me and said they wanted to rap, and record songs. Meanwhile, they do not know what production is all about, they don’t know what sequencing is all about, they don’t know what it is to record an album, wear earphone and go to acoustics room sit alone with the engineer looking at you and sing as they caution you, saying, no! That is flat, the tone is wrong.
People need to face these things. That is why now that I have a studio, every young guy in the street that sings well, can write a song; I will take to my house. I have a producer. That is how footballers are made. Okocha did not wake from his mother’s house to play in a football team. He was playing somewhere else and somebody saw him. I am close to most of these big artistes in Lagos. I could sit down with them and say listen to this song. And I will say, “it is one of my boys from my place that sang it, would you want to add your voice?” I can feature Timaya, P Square or anybody. You feature an artiste if you have a studio; it gives you respect and reputation.
You talk about your family, are you married?
Yes, I have been married to Suzi Joe Morgan for about sixteen (16) years now. She is partly from Agbor and partly from Abudu. Her dad is from Edo and her mum is from my place. We have four children, two boys and two girls.
You just celebrated your golden jubilee; you look far younger than your age. What’s the secret?
I am always happy when good things happen to people. I think that is the highest thing. You know for almost twenty years I followed my father, I understood that in music there is a lot of hate and that’s why you see musicians do ‘juju’ very well. One musician was telling me one day that there is something that they put in handkerchief that if you are singing you will be swinging it and everybody will come and spray you money. I started thinking that if a musician is singing and the music is not good, I don’t enjoy what he is playing and he is waving handkerchief I will not spray money, never.
That is the basic problem we have in music. The few times I followed my father, I noticed that there was a lot of hatred. When I decided to play music I had to remove that hatred. There are few Ika musicians that I have not given any gift in this town. We have over forty performing musicians across Ika land. If there are any I have not touched, they are not up to three or four.
And if I travel abroad I make sure I change my equipment and the one I changed, I call my colleagues to take. Aso is a growing young guy that I like. He is decent, I asked him if he liked the truck and he said yes. I had a truck and I told him to take it but he said he didn’t have money and I said take and give me anything you have. That is the way we can grow but I cannot play in your house and play in my house at the same time. If other musicians are not playing, Joe Morgan music will not be better. If I keep playing for you and I play for others my music will be boring. But if I play for you and another plays for the other person, there will be comparison and it gives me more value to come out and negotiate for a better price. But when I want to get everything and don’t want people to like other musicians’ song, I will quickly get old.
This your habit of not smoking and drinking, where did you get it from?
Well, my father was a very strong disciplinarian. When I was growing up and apart from that I didn’t like his style of drinking and smoking every time, he comes home with lots of screaming and ranting, I believed that the smoking was the cause of it. I didn’t like anybody that smokes and the thing just followed me like that.
So how do you cope in parties and clubs with your fellow musicians when they invite you there since you don’t drink or smoke?
I am an influence to my friends. I don’t have one friend that can influence me wrongly. When I go to events like that, I buy my bottlee water. We will be drinking gisting together. It is you that will be thinking this man is drinking water. And you who will know whether the beer you are drinking is an advantage to you. So that’s how it is.
Ihienkonye is the name of my first son. That name was given to me by my grandparents but it didn’t pop up in my entertainment world. I didn’t want it to die because I love where I am from. You know I came from a very blessed place. Ika is the only place on earth, a community, where you have two governors. The Governor of Delta State, and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele. There is no century that passes by that Ika is not blessed. But unfortunately we have not been able to use it right. This is a land that has two governors, you see even if the dice are going to be cast again, and you put them on the floor, for Ika to have this opportunity again it will be over one hundred (100) years because even if they zone governorship of Central Bank to Delta State and to Delta North, it will not come to Ika again. It will go to either Oshimili, Aniocha because Ika has had it before. If governorship of this State rotates back to this Delta North again, for Delta North to provide Governor, they will say Okowa has represented Ika before; therefore it will be taken to another area. This is the best opportunity for Ika people to take their glory. Ika is a very blessed land of opportunities, I don’t have to go to Okowa or Emefiele to beg them for money. Instead, I will use the opportunity that they are there to sell my products.
What do you think they are supposed to do which they are not doing?
There is no harmony. There is no synergy and we know the blessing of these two. So, we don’t harness it and as I am speaking to you, in June, Emefiele is leaving as CBN Governor. We are left with one governor which we are working for to come back right now. It wasn’t much of astruggle before. Okowa came because he was ready, Emefiele was appointed on a platter of gold but now we are struggling. Even if Okowa is going to win the election, there is a little struggle about it. So that is why I keep telling Ika people that two brothers can quarrel in the house but when an outsider is fighting you, I don’t need to ask why, I will a carry stick. That is the fight we are in now that Okowa is facing Ogboru it is an Ika issue and we should consider it very serious. Everybody needs to come out and fight. Then after fighting, we may now blame ourselves. But in the course of blaming ourselves when the fight is going on, they will kill our brother which we don’t want.
Did you grow up here in Agbor?
Yes. You know because of music, my daddy did not allow me to concentrate fully on my education. Because I was his guitarist, as a little boy, so, when he had shows he would send them to pick me from the class. I went to Obike Primary School and Ime-obi College. We were the first students of the College. Then, I went to Gbenoba Grammar School. I ended at Emuhu Secondary School. I finished from Secondary School in 1989. I then proceeded to Yaba College of Technology.
Which other Agbor upcoming artiste do you know?
We have a lot of them. We have Cypress, we have Wizboy, Onolyric, Taiwo Edward, there are lots of them. We need to harmonize, that’s it.
While talking about the beginning of your music career, you mentioned two of your brothers joining you, where are those your brothers now?
Progress is in Lagos right now and C.Y my bass guitarist is in Johannesburg in South Africa.
Are they still into music?
No, not really. I am the only one left in the scene. We needed to diversify.
What about your children, are they following suit?
Yes. In my birthday party, my first son sang for me, my wife is one of the greatest dancers I have ever seen. Hopefully, they would want to continue after me. My daddy taught me music with hard hand but nowadays you don’t really force children to be what they don’t want to be.
What motivates you most in music industry?
Apart from it being in my blood, I want to be the first person to bring Ika into the international market of entertainment. So I want to do good music, and do good productions. I am starting before the end of this year.
Do you have some songs that are presently still under production?
Yes, a lot. But because I didn’t have a personal studio it took me time to travel to Lagos, lodge in hotels, book for producers, pay for studio stations which are very expensive. But now I am settled.
Now that you are musician and when you were a banker, which is your best time?
Obviously, it is now. I am far happier now. The happiness is from that point that I am giving livelihood to people that are also feeding people. I am like an employer of labour. I have twenty people that work for me and I pay weekly. So mine is different. Every week my band boys are paid.
So where do you expect your music to be in the next five to ten years?
In the next five to ten years, I expect any Ika son that goes to Lagos, Kaduna, or Abuja to switch on their television and radio and listen to my songs irrespective of what I speak. Music doesn’t have a language and I want my music to be what every Ika son will be proud of. In the next five to ten years that should be my duty. I will develop other younger artistes to take over because we cannot be in the entertainment world for eternity.
Who is your mentor?
Aside my father and late Stephen Osadebe, I think I love Chief Akwete and Victor Nwambi from Igbanke. I love their artistry; it is just unfortunate that they do not have the idea of how to develop it. Akwete is one musician that can sing from now till tomorrow, while Nwambi is one artiste that can create anything from nothing. I love those two so much. In a broader shade, I don’t think there is anybody that is driving me right now because the style of music I want to be playing right now is my own personal style. It’s not a common thing that people have heard. I don’t want to be talking about girls and love all the time. There are many issues in the society that I need to propagate so that the world can hear. I want to talk more about the children; our children are not given the best share in the society.
You have taken your music across the country and overseas, what impact have you made especially on our people in the Diaspora?
That is a very beautiful question. The children of our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora don’t understand our language because of the society where they are being brought up. They speak purely English, people in Germany their kids speak Dutch. But most of all my songs are on You-Tube. I am sure their parents play it for them at home and they are like, who is this and their parents tell them he is a popular musician in their native land. So they bring their children to my shows, it helps them to teach the children our dialect.
Most of their children contact me on video call. They ask me the meaning of what I said in many of my songs. Some parents call me from outside the country and everywhere and they will ask me to hold on as their children want to ask for the meaning of certain expressions in my songs and I will explain. This has gone far to teach them the basis of their own culture where they are from. And before, the only artiste you see travelling abroad to play for their people were the Yorubas, like Sunny Ade, Shina Peters. There, you see our Agbor people and Igbo people joining the Yorubas wearing Agbada. Because of the name Nigeria, they will go there. But until I started going there our people had not started forming societies like Ika Society, Anioma Society. They now involve Igbo people had not and the Yoruba community and invite them to their parties. So, when I am playing they are surprised. I am like an ambassador of culture.
How much have Ika people tried to help your music to grow and if any who are they?
The names you will hear are not the names you expect to hear from me. For example, I am the Governor’s brother in this constituency whether he likes me or not is not an issue, when Ibori was the Governor; Daddy Showkey was everywhere even my brother the governor was dancing Urhobo music even when he didn’t understand what they were singing. He didn’t have a choice because his boss then was in power, when Uduaghan came in, Sam Okposo was in vogue, he (Uduaghan) was dancing and he made him (Sam Okposo) a big star and very rich. Four years has gone by; my brother is the governor. Before he became the governor, I had enjoyed Okowa more than anybody in this town. As a governor, I cannot tell you that he has directly impacted on me.
Like I said earlier, as I speak to you, I don’t know the reason. Maybe he is not the social type like some governors that are very sociable like Donald Duke that plays Saxophone. So such person will understand what it means to buy you a saxophone or a guitar. However, he bought equipment for Chief Akwete. And now, when he wins his second term bid I think things will change hopefully.
On general terms, are people really assisting you in anyway?
When I came back to start this music, I didn’t meet my daddy’s equipment because my father was not playing music anymore before he died. I only met one so called box guitar in normal English but we call it acoustic in music. That box guitar, my daddy bought it even before I was born, it is over fifty years old. I still have it as my father’s property but I have newer finer ones now. That is the only thing I met. I needed to start playing music and I didn’t want my father’s name to die.
I needed to make something out of myself. My younger ones were all scattered everywhere because we are of different mothers. Chief Akwete was the first person I hired speaker and guitar from to do my first show and I paid him Three Thousand Naira. The show was Five Thousand Naira show. So I paid Three Thousand Naira to rent equipment from him, two thousand was for logistics and paying band boys. Thank God my younger brothers and I were able to play some musical instruments, so we had some other people to back up. The day Akwete had show and I have one too, I would go and borrow from Aniocha Brothers from Alishime; the man is late now.
When the show started coming in and everyone started envying that I have more shows, and I had no instrument to hire I would then go to Victor Uwaifo in Benin; he was my father’s good friend. Victor Uwaifo would give me instruments to use for free. Then to hire Joe Morgan was Five Thousand Naira, but the man said I should carry it free and his instruments were more sophisticated because the man had taste, he knew what was very good. I did that for about one year.
After shows, my younger ones and I would come back, buy groundnut and garri on credit to eat. But my younger ones needed to go to school because I came in after I had worked in the bank. They were not in school, so communication was impeded. They didn’t understand what I was thinking and I said no. if I start to do this thing with these people I wouldn’t go anywhere. I then registered them through Hon. Fada Ibude’s elder brother, a lecturer at Auchi Polytechnic. So, three of my brothers went to Auchi and had OND, they came back a little brushed up, but I was renting people to go to shows on their behalf. We went to shows, I made little money that I sent to them. On weekends, they would come to play for me and they would go back. That’s how I was able to deal with it.
Then, when I started making little money I started buying speakers. We didn’t know what they called CD, video, there was no musician in Ika that had video. I shot the first musical video in Ika land; my father didn’t even have a video. I started buying speakers; we didn’t have foreign speakers then. Foreign speakers then cost Seventy-Five Thousand Naira. But the speakers I used to hire cost Nine Thousand Naira and sometimes Six Thousand Naira. You see the difference? I started buying foreign speakers. I came in from Lagos and needed to brush things, up. So, I started gathering them one after the other.
While you were doing all these things, why didn’t you meet all the big men to render assistance to you?
One time, I did a luncheon, I called it multimillion Naira equipment, I bought some good speakers I wanted to launch so I can get some money, I invited all the politicians in Ika South. No one came. I was only Okowa with the politicians like Sam Obi that came from Ika North-East to lunch it for me. That time, ‘I Go Die’ was just starting, he lived in my house. I went to Agbor Community in Port Harcourt and they helped me to arrange the show which I launched. Solo Idehen Photoquick gave me Five Hundred Thousand Naira. Then I had to go back to buy more equipment. After show I did, I bought more equipment.
Marriage wasn’t on my mind then as I needed to use the time to culture my younger ones, settle myself so that my brothers will not give my wife problem; so that they would start their lives and I would start mine. I could not even play music with old guitars. These were the things I did gradually. I rented a generator. I would dress for a show, take a bike from Agbor-obi to Convent to rent, a Yamaha generator and put the generator on my leg to the venue of the show and after playing, I returned the generator. All these I did. So, when someone wants to be like Joe Morgan today I will just wonder. How did I start travelling to play abroad? One Igbodo man called Chris Ubani, I met him at an eatery where he was eating, I stopped to buy food, and the people there were hailing my name. Then, the man turned and asked, “Are you Joe Morgan?” I said yes. That was how he called his wife in London; he said my song was what he used to marry his wife on the wedding day. The wife started shouting can’t you come to London? And I said if you want me to come I will. She asked if I had a passport, I said yes. Then she asked me to give her husband my passport number. And two months later, the Embassy called me. That is how I started travelling. What am trying to explain is that you can help your brother to make it happen. You must be broad minded.
Who are your role models?
For my first album, I went to meet IkIyaworin in Lagos. I said I wanted to do recording and he said he wanted to hear the music. I played it for him and then, he said I should come the next morning. When I got there, he gave me Forty-Five Thousand Naira. That was what I used to do my first album. My second album, one man called Tama Dada in Warri who was into printing sponsored almost everything. It started just gradually like that. My travelling like I mentioned, started with Ubani. In trying to package instrument here and there, Victor Uwaifo played a great role in Benin. He opened his doors for me and he even tried to make my artistry look presentable but Osayomore Joseph was the person that told me not to sing on the floor. I can’t forget somebody like Victor Akue; my friend in Austria. He has always sent support in one way or the other. Henry Iyama in Germany that I hanged out with when I went to Germany to play music, he encouraged me to buy a truck. He is into Import and Export and that was how I bought the truck. He sent the tuck to me. These are the few people. My first journey to Holland was through my cousin, Lucy. She is married to Victor and they are in Canada right now and that was the same year I had my first son. I was ready to travel when my girlfriend then put to bed the day before I travelled. When I came back, I wedded her after one year.
Parental aspect of it is very important. I am one person that doesn’t easily get demoralized. We were born two by my mother during the war but she followed a military man. Then there used to be Bendel State trans-city bus, my grandmother, Mary Ekaeze was the conductress of the bus. My mum put me as a little boy of two years and my sister of some months into a big carton and dropped us at that gutter opposite Oshien Junction and followed Hausa man to the North till today she is there. That place was a bus stop, early in the morning when the bus parked to pick passengers; it was my grandmother that saw the two children in the carton. She asked who kept children in a carton in war time like this? She carried the children into the bus to drop them with her brother. The king, Obi Ikechukwu of Agbor in the palace and went back to work. He made baby food and started feeding the children not knowing that they were her grandchildren and one of them is Joe Morgan everybody wants to be like today. That is where we are today. That’s why I live in Agbor-obi today. Where I live today was once a traditional home, which is my house today.
How did your grandmother later know that you were her grandchild?
My father started looking for his children and my mum then sent a message that she dropped them at Osian Junction and that’s how it was. I lost my younger sister, the only sister from my mum, last year. She was the most dynamic human being I have ever seen in this world. She had three kids; one is already a graduate with First Class working with two other brothers. They are doing quite well. She had breast cancer and I lost her to that but it has been really beautiful.
Was your grandmother not there when you and your sister were born that she couldn’t recognize you people?
She was there but because the children were in a covered carton she couldn’t recognize us then. Ideas rule the world. Somebody made handset, someone created Facebook, Whatsapp and Ika Weekly are all ideas so complaining every time cannot help us. We must create, we must be innovative and I keep telling people it is difficult for me to go and meet Agbor people to help me but I will get to that point to do that. But before I do that I need to put myself in a position where they cannot say no. I must put something on the table. I cannot blame Okowa now for not buying me equipment. If somebody from Itsekiri is sitting down there with him and I just come in and say Ekwueme, I am not very happy that for about four years you didn’t buy me equipment, the Itsekiri man will ask, who is he? I don’t want to be asked who he is. I want a situation where when I enter there the Itsekiri man will hail me, and the Governor will say he is my brother. I want to have an instrument to negotiate effectively.
What I am trying to say is that the great men are always laughed at; people must always laugh when you start, and that is the real truth. People laughed at me so much when I started singing my first song. They did all that to me but I was never discouraged because there was nothing I could do since there was no source of survival. I didn’t have an option so I needed to do it.
Why didn’t you go back to the banking industry?
I had no reason to go there. It wasn’t my calling and I didn’t want to work in the bank. Today I am Jim Ovia’s friend. When he came to Agbor we greeted cordially, but if I was still working in the bank, I would have sat like twenty canopies away from him. So, if I bring a proposal on the table, he will not look at me as a survivalist.
Are you satisfied with the political situation in Ika land?
I am certainly not satisfied with the political situation in Ika land. Ika is a blessed community. Under five years, we have had three governors, ambassadors, Catholic Bishops and a lot of people like Jim Ovia, even in the political terrain. We have had two governors; Sam Obi was there acting, even if for one month. We also had a deputy governor, Eborka. Ika has been blessed. Our problem is us, we like gossip and we bring people down easily and that has affected us politically.
Everybody is now praising the present governor, His Excellency, Ifeanyi Okowa, for what he has been able to do this while hoping he will do much better in the next four years. But what happens to Ika after Okowa? Ika people are not even thinking about that. Where will we go from here? Who is going to come and talk politically in Ika and everybody will listen? So they have not done well. I expected even Emefiele himself to be able to build a system in this place that will forever be here. I expect Okowa to sit down and get someone else to handle issues in Ika land; when the situation is very difficult for the person they would direct the people to the main man. But now, everything is penciled to him. What happens to us when he is not there again? We will be taking political decision in Kwale, Ndokwa and Oshimili because we will be like sheep without shepherd. That is my point.
So what do you think are the solutions to the problems?
We need to change. We need to work together to bring back Okowa to power and those people around Okowa need to give the man space so that other people can talk to him on how we can build politically. Mkpitione is no more today. Before it was him. Awolowo even visited him. Before, he was everything but now where is Mkpitione?. Assuming there was no Okowa; today nobody is talking about Cairo again. So, if there is no Okowa where would we have been? That’s my own take. Okowa needs to start building an acceptable figure that is not selfish, greedy, tribalistic, and ethnical, that person who will come to Agbor and all of us will come out and the people will be free to associate with him. That is the kind of person we need to build now because Okowa won’t be there forever. All those people around Okowa, nobody likes him. They like him as an Ika man but they don’t love him. They love the seat he is sitting on but they don’t love his person. If they love him, they should be able to tell him the real truth and the right thing but they don’t. Ok let me give you example, our people from the Ika South axis, can get anything they want from Okowa. Okowa cannot eat everything in the State. Okowa will be happy to give to Ika everything in the State. If he wins the second tenure, you will see this take place. But let me tell you, the people that are from my place that sit down with him do not give him the picture that the man needs to see. Then what do you expect the man to do? Everything the man is doing in Ika South, he is doing it behind them, he tarred the road in Ozoga behind them, and if he had given it to them to do they would have not done it. They are selfish people. God keep us alive, all these people come 2022 before 2023 election; check how many people that will be behind Okowa. All of them will go and line up with next the governor in town. They are all very selfish people.
What are your views in both the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections and the incoming Governorship election?
First of all, Hon. Nwokolo is my friend we are like companion not that I know his house or he knows my house, but we are friends. I have never made any statement against his person. Nobody can say Joe Morgan abused Nwokolo. The House of Reps issue was a little bit sentimental even when I am not a politician. I didn’t know what they did, how they arranged it but I was sentimental as an Ika South man hoping that the position was coming to Ika South to be contested. Fortunately for us a friend of mine Sebastine Okoh wanted to run. Sebastine has impacted my life as my friend and I have also impacted his life as a friend. So many years ago I was the only musician that was bringing entertainment to Ika community every Christmas period. I played in Royal Courtyard on the 24th December night and in Legend Hotel on 31st night. I did that for more than ten years because I was trying to make people that came for Christmas happy.
So, when he introduced the carnival, the carnival was like a bigger spectrum. I embraced it and it was lovely. I didnt know Sebastine when I was in school; he was not my classmate in school. The same government of today introduced him to me; he came with an open heart and saw the joy in people’s mind. Ika people were united in an event where phones will be misplaced and by tomorrow morning somebody will come and meet me at backstage with more than twenty pieces of phones, nobody died no stealing, there was fun and I loved it for the happiness in my place. Then he came out to contest for election and wouldn’t support him? I didn’t even support him enough. I would have done songs for him. I supported him to the end and that is what friends are for and he respected me for that. Though Nwokolo has been declared winner by INEC, I congratulate him and wish him all the best but it is clear to him that the people have not been happy with him. It was clear in campaign, generality of the people are not happy with him. So, if there was anything he was not doing right he should wake up and do it right, because he should not see House of Reps as an end in politics. He might want to go further and if he needs to go further he needs Ika people.
For the governorship election, the issue we had in the House of Reps was in-house issue. It was within Ika brothers and that one has passed. Even Sebastine my friend knows from the onset of our struggle to date that I will vote for Okowa. Now the governorship race that is coming is a fight between our brother and an outsider, so there is no reason for an Ika man to sit in his house and expect Okowa to come and campaign. It is a battle or fight for Ika people at large no matter where rhey are. We must all come together and make sure Okowa comes back for two particular reasons. One, I am a traditional person and Okowa is our tribesman. Two, the issue of Ibori has gone twice; Uduaghan has gone twice therefore Okowa should go two times. That is a clear reason for us to get it all. Okowa is not going to run for third term.
You said something that it was supposed to be the time for Ika South but Sebastine is from Ika North-East, how do you marry this?
Nwokolo was the political choice of the political elites but Sebastine was the general people’s choice. Not that Ika people were comfortable with it but the ordinary people wanted him. But it is an experience for Sebastine. This is his first political experience. You don’t get it right at first. He is still a very young man, he is still there he is still going to make impact. He gave them a serious run and they acknowledged it. Sebastine brought one thing that is clear to everybody that is anybody that needs to run for an office today needs to work hard. Sebastine made it clear to everybody. Before, in Ika land once you win PDP ticket you just go and sleep.
Advice for the youths?
To the Youths, we must try to equip ourselves. This last election was an eye opener to me. I found out that most of the youths are not even equipped both educationally and otherwise and it is so sad. There is nothing you can do in life without education, even if you want to venture into cybercrime, there is a basic educational standard that you must have because it entails communication and our youths don’t have it.
Even this last election, none of them had PVC and that was the only occasion you have to make it right for your future. Most of them did not have not because they were careless or hungry but because they are stupid. All of them will gather and be hailing one leader and the guy will give them N10, 000 to about one hundred and fifty of them and they will start fighting one another. We need to sensitize people about that; it is not going to keep happening. It is a disgrace and a shame.
I love one thing that God has given to us; that is common and that thing makes me to keep my head up always. That thing is death. Everybody must die. Assuming life can be bought out of you; all our kidneys would be in Dangote’s fridge for himself his children and grandchildren. Otedola would store all our hearts and lungs for his children and grandchildren and be paying for them. But because we share death equally everybody must die. Death is the best thing God has given to us; believe me we all die one day.
One day, a pastor came to my house and said he had a dream about death that I should not travel. I immediately I entered my room and brought money and gave to him just to discharge him. After sometime, I saw the man and I told him that everyone will die and I didnt need him to tell me not to travel. I don’t need it. Even if you kill me, the difference is that I died before you. Then what is the trouble for. I do not envy anybody, because we will die. I am always happy when good thing happens to people. Because we will die I don’t need to struggle to buy a Jeep, I don’t need to be disrespectful to my elders. I am always smiling, you can never see me not smiling, because we will die I don’t want to eat everything while the next guy is hungry. It is not necessary, what’s the struggle for.
What is your favourite traditional food?
Ujuju with anything like akpu or pounded yam.
Looking at your itinerary one would think you don’t rest at all?
No, I don’t. I divide my way because independence of oneself is the only thing that would place you to have the freedom of mind to talk. I can talk to anybody. If I am hungry and my dependence or source is coming from Okowa it means I cannot say anything against Okowa. I am independent, very contented and I have a good wife; whatsoever we have we manage it. Don’t give me money and think I will not say anything when you do wrong. Don’t even bother yourself because I will be the first person to talk. I am not dependent on salary I am a musician, all I need is to be creative.
One thing anybody can do if you don’t like me is when they call me for a show, you will object and opt for Akwete. But if you call Akwete to play for you, the money will still come to Agbor-Obi. If my music is playing, you don’t like it, you remove it and play another one; after all you bought it with your money. I have a very free mind. Like I told you, Sebastine has done so well for me the same way I have done for him. If you see me talking to him when he is wrong, his wife will just be looking at me but I am loyal to him. He is just my friend and am supporting him because of what I feel he can do for the people that’s why am supporting him.
How has Sebastine Okoh taken the result so far?
When we spoke last during my birthday, he was in a high spirit. He danced all through. He has a good heart and I am very sure since he is the governor’s boy and am sure the governor will still reach out to him and he will come back to the house. We are all family.