JUJU queen and president, Association of Juju Musicians of Nigeria (AJUM), Queen Ayotunde Balogun has been invited to paddle the canoe of the crisis ridden Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) in her capacity as Head, Caretaker Committee pending the time normalcy will return to the association.
ENCOMIUM Weekly took her on this and much more when we visited her in her Obanikoro, Lagos office on Thursday, February 16, 2012.
Can you unveil your agenda for 2012, especially career wise?
I am planning so many things this year. First among them is organizing a musical concert. I am also planning collaborations with some other artistes from different genres of music. My aim is to really show the stuff I am made of.
The kind of music I am also capable of making apart from juju which I am already known with. I want to spread my tentacles across and invite different people into my musical world so that they can actually understand who I am very well, career wise –aside seeing me on stage, performing at social functions and all that.
Another one that I have been keeping away from is talent hunt. I want to organize a talent hunt that is going to serve as my own contribution to the society. I want to produce new juju artistes that will be sponsored and nurtured to greatness. That’s going to happen this year by the special grace of God.
What form will it take to be a part of it?
There is going to be a form that will be made available for every interested applicant but I can’t be precise about its price for now. After the purchase of the form, we are going to have an audition during which the best among the applicants will be picked.
Then, we start to eliminate by vote. The aim is mainly to produce more juju musicians.
Is it a sort of reality show?
Not really, I don’t think I have that kind of capacity for now because of my very tight schedules.
What about sponsorship?
Definitely, I will need sponsors to assist me if I really want the desired success. I am looking forward to seeing some corporate organizations coming in that aspect.
You promised to release another album by April this year in the interview you granted us in 2011. Has work been completed on that?
No, live shows have taken over that. I have not even entered the studio for it. Another thing is that the one I released last year is still selling fast. So, I don’t need to be in a hurry, releasing another one.
Now, it’s just started enjoying attention, it’s being played on radio and television stations because I also released the video almost at the same time so that they can complement each other. So, I need to allow that album to sell very well before rolling out another one.
Okay, when shall your fans be expecting the album or you’re not going to do anything on it this year again?
By the special grace of God, something will be done on that before the year runs out.
Maybe that will be in commemoration of your 55th birthday anniversary…
(Cuts in) It’s like you’re counting the dates with me, we thank God for that.
You have been manning the affairs of Association of Juju Musicians of Nigeria for quite sometime now, and you have received a lot of commendations from every corner for a job well done. Now you have been invited to manage the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) as Head, Caretaker Committee, how true is it?
I think you’re very correct but I like taking my time when it comes to issues like this. PMAN issue is a very sensitive one, especially at this period. Fine, I am not a coward but at the same time I wouldn’t want to step on anybody’s toes.
So, what I actually want to say is that PMAN as a union really needs genuine reconciliation. And I am taking my time to observe the situation of things very well and know how to contribute my own quota to the development of the association. What I am very much particular about is to reconcile all the warring factions so that PMAN can become one indivisible family again.
Yes, I thank God for my life, and without sounding arrogant, I am blessed. So, nobody can say I want to go into PMAN affairs because of money. But I want to see the union come together again for things to start moving well. That’s all I am after.
How would you get this aim achieved without facing some difficulties, knowing full well that the association is male dominated?
I have actually started making some moves that will lead me to our destination. I am also seeking advice from elders on how to paddle the canoe of the association. Like I said, it’s a very big and sensitive union.
People go into PMAN for various reasons. Some go there for the good of the association. I am not saying it’s bad to benefit where you work but that must be legitimately done. You just have to come out clean and clear on your agenda. You must be prudent. Some people in the past managed PMAN very well and the association didn’t have any problem because they were prudent. So, I have been making some consultation on the way forward but like I said I wouldn’t want a situation whereby I will step on people’s toes.
But no matter how much effort you may want to put in to ensure sanity in the union, some may still want to pull you down because of the many crises that are rocking the association from almost all corners…
(Cuts in) That’s a very good question. I agree with you totally that there is a deep crisis in PMAN. There are too many factions but one thing I believe is that no matter what some people may be saying or doing to truncate my effort, there will still be some people that will know that you have genuine interest of the association at heart.
So, we are not all stupid, we are not all foolish. We will still have some people among us that will support the good intention of ensuring that peace is brought back into the association.
Like how many months do you intend spending if you eventually assume the leadership seat of PMAN?
I pray God answer our prayer on time. The quicker we can make the warring factions come together, the better. It’s then we would be able to make peace which is the primary aim of constituting the caretaker committee. Then, a president will now emerge.
It’s open to whoever thinks he can paddle the canoe of the union. You only need to prove yourself worthy before you can be given the opportunity to contest. PMAN is a very big association, it’s not the one anybody can toy with again. I believe we have had enough crises. Now, we want peace. So, whoever that is coming in now must be able to prove himself to all and sundry that he is capable of running the affairs of the association.
Some people are already clamouring for young generational government in PMAN as against parading old faces which had been the practice in the recent past, what’s your take on that?
Young or old, I don’t mind. So far you’re capable, to direct the affairs of the union, age is no barrier. If it’s a young person that will take us to the Promised Land, why not allow him and if it’s the old person, nothing bad in it. My own is that I am going to give my total support to whoever is destined to be there.
Were you invited by all or just by a faction?
It’s by all.
When are you actually kicking off?
I can’t say that it has not actually taken off. It has because there are so many underground works going on. Just like we all know, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The kind of underground work we’re doing will lead us to where we are going.
You’re the president of AJUM, what is going to happen to that seat when you assume office as PMAN number one person?
I am sure we have capable hands in AJUM. The best thing is that, we have a structure on ground. And when you leave a structure behind, that’s exactly what whoever is coming behind will follow. That will help in making sure there is continuity.
For me, AJUM is still very precious to me and that’s why I have been serving the association with all that I have. In the past some people thought juju music is dead but now the whole story is different. I won’t want to see the association go down, it will continue to grow.
If you eventually complete your tenure as head, PMAN Caretaker committee, will you still like to go back to AJUM and continue as president?
I won’t say that for now because you have to give other people chances to express themselves. It’s not a traditional title that you pass on to your children. You have to leave and allow another person to step in.
A couple of months back you clocked 54 and you allowed the day to go unnoticed, why?
Even, on my birthday I performed at a wedding. When I was contacted for the wedding, I told them, that was my birthday. Then, they told me I shouldn’t worry they will celebrate it for me on the stage. That’s what actually happened.
That means your fans should be expecting you to roll out the drums when you turn 55?
Okay, I may consider that (laughs).
Let’s digress to a very personal issue. As a celebrity woman and an entertainer for that matter, how would you describe your relationship with your husband at the moment, how cordial is it because…
(Cuts in) Yes, we all know that marriage is never a bed of roses but I thank God I am coping.
Even with your career?
Yes. I try as much as I can to manage the home front.
What’s the latest about your multi-million naira mansion in Ajah, Lagos?
It’s still under construction because the roads are very bad and from what I heard, they said the government won’t look into the problem until 2013. So, that simply means I can’t do anything again until that time.
When did you have your greatest joy?
That was when I built my first house in Baruwa area, Alimosho local government. I have many happy moments. I thank God for that. Also when I finished my Ajao Estate house where I reside now, I felt so happy about it.
At 54, would you say God has been so kind to you?
Oh! A million times. I would say He has been so wonderful to me.
What else do you look on to Him for before you clock 55?
I pray that I record huge success in all my programmes this year and also ask for God’s protection of my family.
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, February 21, 2012