Celebrity, Cover Stories, Interviews, People

9ice finally breaks silence on break-up with estranged wife, Toni Payne

‘It has been hell, but I am grateful to her for forgiving me’

On Sunday, January 17, 2016, famous music act, Abolore Akande, better known as 9ice marked his 36th birthday with the media and a couple of friends and colleagues. The quiet event held at Fab, Oduduwa Way, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos. The talented musician used the medium to address all the issues affecting his life and career, especially his marriage to Tony Payne which hit the rocks about six years ago. He also opened up on his political career and much more…


Today is a special day in your life being your birthday. How do you feel about that?

I feel great and honoured to be alive today. It’s wonderful and awesome celebrating my birthday with the Press. So many things that are good and so many things that could have been better, but in all, glory be to Almighty God.

How old is 9ice today?

I am 36 and I am grateful to God about that.

What’s significant in celebrating 36?

There are lots of significant things that I can attribute to my 36th birthday celebration today because there have been so many issues which need to be clarified. And I said okay, what other best day I can choose to address the issues and I chose today being my birthday. So, today is very paramount in my life. Today is my birthday, those issues also are like my birthday.

What are the issues you’re referring to?

First, is the issue of my marital life which involved Ruggedman that led to my issue with the Press.

9ice and Toni Payne

9ice and Toni Payne

That reminds us, a couple of days back, your estranged wife, Toni Payne posted on her Twitter trying to recap her experience during the marital squabbles but the only thing she was bitter about was the fact that you remained silent even at the heat of the turbulence, why?

In Nigeria that we found ourselves, the Yoruba culture which I was born into and grew with made me understand that the position of a woman is different from that of a man in any issue, whether we have western influence or not. When we have certain issues, a man is supposed to be quiet. He should be in a steady position. One thing is that when you have issues with any of your family members, there is no way it won’t be resolved because when you guys are still in the surface of the earth one thing somehow will bring you together. So, whatever you say matters a lot. Just like when you have a case with the police, they will advice you to remain silent because whatever you say may be used against you in the court of law. So, as a man, you need to remain quiet and apply wisdom. Whatever a woman says, she may be forgiven but a man says something, it holds water.

But she stressed that you being quiet then, you should have known would mean she actually cheated on you in the public eye. What’s your reaction to this?

Yes, she said it and people said that as well but I called to make her understand that the whole thing was never an issue but the song came out at a very wrong time and people read meaning to it. And they looked at it from the angle of who can this guy be talking about. And they quickly concluded. “Ha! Ruggedman is his friend. He’s the one he’s actually referring to.’ And that’s all. Before you could say Jesus is Lord, it has been blown out of proportion. And the situation escalated that nobody could even manage it at that time.

So, I let her know, but like I said, as a man, you need to be in that position, then allow the situation sort itself out naturally.

How do you feel now that the whole issue is sorted out?

I feel great. It’s like I just got my life back because without resolving those issues, I wouldn’t move forward. And as an entertainer, you need the media, as a businessman or politician, you need the media. Whatever we want to do and you want to be successful in it, you can’t underrate the media. That’s the system we found ourselves, and we must live by that truth that the media industry is so important in our endeavours. It’s like second to God. You can’t move forward without the media. And you can’t have problem with a colleague in this kind of our profession without resolving it. You can have a marital issue without ending it and making sure that this is the true position. Without that, you can’t move forward.

The separation has spanned almost six years, what gap has that created in your life and career?

Ha! Very wide gap, especially between myself and my son. My son is someone I love so much. He’s my first child. Before the issue, we never lived a day apart, but now, we’re doing six months apart because of the quarrel. So, the issue has taken so much away from me that I can’t even reclaim. I just felt if I am not doing it for myself, I need to do it for the sake of my children.

Can we believe that both of you have reconciled now permanently?

20160117_164816_EZRepostNow, she has forgiven me and I thank her for that. She has moved on. I have also moved on too. But we have a son to raise together which is the most important thing. So, whether we’re married or no longer married, that son must be raised successfully and under a cordial relationship between both of us.

Does that mean both of you can’t be husband and wife again?

I would say no comment about that because I like to allow time to bring about things. I can’t be too forward about that. And if you allow time to play this role in any issue, a lot of things will come to play naturally.

Just like you said, you have also moved on by having baby mamas, if at all she comes back now as your legally married wife, what will be the position of your baby mamas?

Just because of the issue, so many things had come to play. It’s not as if you played a match today, and tomorrow you can play another match. And the scores in the previous match will be erased.

I can’t erase May and Mier, my twins and I can’t erase Mitchel, my last daughter. Now, I have four children.

So, Toni Payne had only one child for you?

Yes, that’s Zion. He’s my first child. Another woman has twins for me and Mitchel is also from another woman. So, these kids can’t be erased from my life. So, many things happened during the period. That’s why everything should be left in the hands of God to define how that relationship is going to be.

But not that any of these women is living under your roof at the moment?

(Cuts in) No, I have a woman under my roof.

But she’s not legally married to you, or is she?

No, we’re not legally married.

When are you planning to formalize the relationship?

Getting married and having a woman in your house is another course that cannot be done in any university in Nigeria, even across the globe. You just have to learn it yourself and pray to Almighty God to give you the grace and the patience to cope with the situation. So, I am still praying and learning. And hopefully, one day and very soon, it may be legalized.

What’s the name of the woman?

Olasunkanmi Ajala.

Was there anything to regret in all the turbulence between you and Toni Payne?

There is no regret because whether I like it or not, it has made me the man I am today. Probably, if I didn’t go through the challenge, I might be the worst human being by now.

Would you say that’s the only lesson you learnt out of the whole script?

No, I am saying I have learnt so many lessons because of the incident. So, it made me know that life is not a bed of roses all through. It actually taught me so many lessons. So, I feel I understand life in a different perspective now

How does Ruggedman feel about the whole thing now?

I haven’t spoken to him. I intend to do that this week. Hopefully, I will get his reaction about it.

Does that mean nothing like that happened between Toni Payne and Ruggedman as alleged or misinterpreted by the public?

Nothing like that happened. Nothing like that ever happened between the two of them.

Concerning your career, people are saying 9ice is no longer hot, why?

Like I said, you can’t move forward without clearing issues in your life because I have lost some fans due to that issue. Some platforms I used to promote my songs have been disconnected because of the issue. Some friends I made over the years have also been disconnected. So, one needs to resolve all these issues before moving forward.

What are your fans expecting from you now that the whole thing has become history?

Today, I also unveiled a new song entitled, Abefe which was produced by Olu Mix. It’s a love song, its’ also a party song and it’s doing well already. Aside this song, I released some other singles last year, including Ogara which was produced by ID Cabasa.

I also released Aye Fa Mi Lete Kin Tuto and Agba Waa Bura, also produced by ID Cabasa. I also released the Lord’s Prayer, produced by Puffy T.

That means 9ice has bounced back big and better?

Yes sir, by the special grace of God.

Lest we forget, since the issue between you and Toni Payne has been resolved, why is she not here today celebrating with you at least to show the public that the storm is over?

She is in the United States of America at the moment. There’s no way she could have been here today.

But is she aware of today’s event?

Yes, she is very much aware of it.

You contested in the last political dispensation and lost at the primary level. Do you still have intention to forge ahead in your political career for 2019?

Yes, I have every intention to re-run in 2019. Everything is intact concerning that.

How did you feel losing?

I felt bad but for me being a first timer and defeating two incumbent commissioners couldn’t have been easy. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t as if I even lost out. They didn’t finish counting the votes before I was told to step down for someone else which I did.




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