Prolific Nigerian pop music artiste and ‘Nigeria Jaja-jaga’ crooner, Eedris Abdulkareem, says that he accepts money from the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, because he loves to be identified only with Governors that are popularly acknowledged to be ‘doing well’.
The pop artiste declared this position during last Saturday’s SaharaTV’s Inspiration segment with Omoyele Sowore, in effect saying he could not accept a gift from those politicians who are failing to serve the people. During the interview, Eedris also talked about his famous feud with Nigeria’s former President, Olusegun Obasanjo; his tussle on a plane with American rapper 50cent; and other controversial issues.
On former President Obasanjo, Eeedris opted to refer to the embattled man as ‘Baba’ throughout the interview. He insisted that he has never taken money from Obasanjo, nor did he assume a low profile for some time after he released his famous Jaga-jaga album because he was jittery.
“I have never collected any money from Baba before. Eedris Abdulkareem is a social crusader and my responsibility is to use music to add values to the lives of common people who can’t speak for themselves”, he declared.
“As a social crusader, back in 2000, I came up with “Mr. Lecturer,” which talked about sexual harassment on our campuses and “Jaga-jaga” came up after millions of youths voted me to represent them at the Olympic Torch Relay, which automatically made me an authority as an Olympic Torchbearer, and my responsibility is to speak for my people.”
Eedris pointed out that the former president became angry at him after he released the Jaga-jaga album. The title, he told SaharaTV, was adopted from a childhood game and suggests things gone awry. He further said that the Jaga-jaga album was motivated by his aspiration to reflect the ills in the Nigerian society occasioned by widespread corruption and the selfish activities of the country’s rulers.
Attempting to clarify the stoic silence which followed the threat from the former President after his famous Jaga-jaga album and his subsequent behavior which seemed to have been aimed at reconciling with the Government, Eedris said his album which followed Jaga-jaga was ‘Letter to Mr. President’. That album, he said was to explain to the Government what he meant by Jaga-jaga in his prior album that had seen him crossing swords with Obasanjo. He denied that his subsequent meeting with Obasanjo’s successor, Late President Yar’ Adua, was to engineer peace with the Government and to regain his “restricted” freedom into the society.
“What I went to see President Yar’ Adua for was different from Obasanjo and the Nigerian problem. I went to discuss with him to endorse Kora Awards. Also, have this at the back of your mind that President Yar’ Adua was a Chemistry teacher back then when I was in Kano, so I know the Yar’ Adua family very well”, Eedris narrated. He expressed the opinion that the late President Yar’Adua, with whom he enjoyed presidential cordiality, was the best ever to rule the country.
Asked about his thoughts on a recent musical video by Rick Ross which portrays musical artistes as individuals solely interested in money, Eedris heaped condemnation on Rick Ross, saying he doesn’t watch or give recognition to such artistes. “I don’t watch people like that because they don’t add value to my life, my country and my people,” he said. “People like Rick Ross who act songs that talk about champagne, illuminati, money and all that are not adding values to our lives. So, I don’t recognize people like that and I don’t listen to their kind of songs. I am a social crusader and I love songs that will add values to the lives of my people. You should not come to Africa and say because you see people are poor you are throwing money at people. That is stupid; it is disrespect to my people,” he said.
Eedris suggested a realistic way to show interest in helping our poor people. “If they want to add value to people, what I expect them to do is to come down and put up a non-governmental organization that will take care of anything that has to do with food shortage that the United Nations and the World Bank are talking about,” he said.
“Most of the American Artistes that come over to Nigeria should have this at the back of their minds that they are also Africans: that 500 years ago, their great grandfathers were taken away from Badagry. So, they are slaves and whenever they are coming to Africa, they should come and add values and not take the huge money we pay them to come and teach us sex, drugs and how many gunshots they had in their body”, he also said.
On the spat with 50cent, he narrated how, on a flight, he resisted a discriminatory attempt by 50cent and his group of about 22 bodyguards who ordered him out of First Class and he fought them and refused to be humiliated. Eedris said he had insisted to the face of 50cent that the latter wasn’t superior to him. He posited that the Nigerian Breweries company who organized the show that paired him with 50cent was responsible for the situation.
After the battle on the plane, Eedris said, “When we got to the airport and he [50cent] saw the way I was received, he asked me to come and have a handshake but I told him I’m a student of history and I know how their forefathers were slave-traded in Badagry 500 years ago. You know what? 50cent had to go back to America,” Eedris narrated.
He however admitted that few months after he took a stern stand against that behavior in the air by 50cent, he went on his knees to beg 50cent few months after that in South Africa. Eedris said that he apologized to 50cent because he wanted to remain at peace with him.
“I wasn’t apologizing because of what popped up. I was apologizing knowing the fact that he came through a wrong politics, he didn’t know anything. I had to do that to give him another opportunity because we Africans are good people and we are hospitable. I had to apologize to him because every action I took the other time was on Nigerian breweries, not against 50cent”, said Eedris.
The pop artiste also reacted to a recent statement by President Goodluck Jonathan in which he alleged that the January Occupy Nigeria protest rally was stage-managed. Eedris, as an activist, was also part of the Occupy Nigeria movement in Lagos which shut down major activities in the country. He dismissed the President’s statement as mere political propaganda, stressing that the stretch of the duration of the Occupy Nigeria protest, which was longer than the usual two-days that was expected by the Federal Government, was a clear indication that the people were fed up with the situation in the country and were willing to protest for as long as possible.
But on what borders on Eedris Abdulkareem’s controversial moral stand, Eedris confirmed on the show that he takes money from Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomole. Even though Eedris had criticized the likes of D’banj for taking money from President Goodluck Jonathan, the admission seemed to have cast him as operating different standards.
Obviously miffed by the unexpected question, Eedris argued that he collected money from Adams Oshiomole of Edo State because the later was a Comrade and a good Governor. Eedris reiterated that he would love to identify with Fashola, Tinubu, Rochas and Oshiomole because they fixed roads and improved education in their States, and he would therefore be free to collect money from them. After all, “it is our money,” he said.
The segment anchor, Omoyele Sowore asked Eedris whether taking money from Governor Adams Oshiomole has no effect on his moral stand as he had accused D’Banj of the same practice. An angered Eedris said his own was justifiable because his own benefactor was doing well. “When Oshiomole won, he said, ‘Eedris come, we have won.’ We fought it together,” the activist said.
Continuing, he told his interviewer, “It is very justifiable because Oshiomole is a good Governor, so what are you going to say about it? He is doing very well and that is my service that I’m rendering. And also, to put it straight to you, Goodluck Jonathan and his so-called ex-president have not done what these Governors have been able to do in less than two years. So, what are you saying about that? If you don’t like it, eat it.”
As his segment of the show rounded off, Eedris chanted: “I love Fashola, New Nigeria; I love Oshiomole, New Nigeria; I love Rochas, New Nigeria; Sahara, Odabo o!”