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“Hosting NMVA is miraculous for us”

By  Lolade  Sowoolu
Next Sunday at the Expo Hall of the Eko Hotel & Suites, the third edition of Nigeria’s pioneer music video awards, NMVA ‘09 will hold.

In this interview, co-ordinator of the national ceremony; Mr Cally Ikpe, speaks on the staying power of the project, the theme of the event and government participation in this year’s episode.
Enjoy his submissions.

How easy is it to be consistent with a project like the NMVA?

We’ve just gone two years and we’re looking at the third one, and it looks  like it’s coming a lot better than the previous ones. This particular project requires a lot more capital to carry out and there’s so much risks involved too.

Cally Ikpe
Cally Ikpe

It’s a gamble mainly but I must say the spirit around it is overwhelming. The will and determination to do it is very high and we know that we’re being powered by God Almighty who says go— even when it doesn’t look like there is a way.

We’re strengthened knowing that every time we start this, no matter how difficult it seems, at the end of the day, we will prevail. We know it is difficult to carry out yet we go ahead and pick a date and somehow it comes to pass. Its miraculous for us.

What is the average budget  each time you host this event?

If one is to quantify the cost of everything involved including the things you get for free like promotions and facilities that you get for almost next to nothing all because people want to support you, and in the conservative manner that we’ve done it, you’re in the range of a hundred million naira.

But if you are to pay for everything that should be paid for, that N100 million will not be able to do it especially without the kind of resources or sponsorship that you require.

On sponsorship, you’ve never been very open as to who you’re partnering with on this project?

We’ve always had support not sponsorship. In 2007, we had the brand Lipton from Unilever supporting… not sponsoring.

Then we have Eko Hotels supporting largely. Last year, Guinness came with the brand Harp which was a lot better than 2007. And this year, we’re hoping it’ll be a lot better because it’s progressing.

Then largely, it’s the brand LiveBeats that’s been the main sponsor; spending all the money needed to realize The NMVA including borrowing. Its been particularly very difficult but we keep looking ahead much more than the obstacles we’re experiencing.

What informed the theme for this year’s event?

By ‘Music Edifies’, we simply mean that music should impact rather than corrupt peoples’ lives. It should excite, inspire and improve the mind rather than corrupt. Not that music should advertise rasp sex, glorifying fraud, violence etc. We don’t think that’s what music should be.

Especially knowing too that these artistes are people who also have kids constituting a large percentage of their fan base. That’s enough reason for them to even play more cautiously. So its our duty to remind them that they should concentrate and emphasize great songs.

Does this mean songs that fall into these categories will not be considered?

Unequivocally, we’ve made it very clear at every opportunity that all such videos with such negative themes will be discountenanced as far as the Nigeria Music Video Awards is concerned. Besides the Nigeria Broadcast Commission (NBC) has even helped in identifying many of these videos by banning them.

So as the NMVA, you don’t expect us to go contrary to the NBC. We don’t believe you should be good and negative because you want to be called daring. We believe that good music mustn’t be negative to be popular.

Only few months back at the Soundcity Music Video Awards (SMVA), some banned songs were celebrated.

Do you think your refusal to join the band wagon is capable of causing any change?

This is not LiveBeats’ Music Video Awards. This is the Nigeria Music Video Awards. The implication is that we’re dragging the name of  Nigeria alongside whatever decisions we take. By the time we start celebrating banned videos, it means we should take absolute responsibility for it and change the name of the awards and stop calling it NMVA.

The moment we feel the strong urge to go without restraints, then its only sensible and most logical that the name be changed. If it’s Nigeria, then the corporate entity must be seen to be responsible.

Since you’re trying to fly the  NMVA like a national icon, how much of government participation do you have?

NMVA is already a national icon that is growing fast. We’re courting the government right now and in no time, you’re going to see the effect.

One would expect that after two successful editions, some tangible government presence should be felt?

We’re not in a hurry because we know we’re going to be around for a very long time. We’re trying to take it one at a time. We’re trying to make sure we gather the momentum and participation from every necessary quarter.

In fact, you need to rally your contemporaries some more before trying to bring in the government.

So how much cooperation do you have form your contemporaries…?

We have quite a lot. So many of the industry players are giving us support. We have Phillips Trimnel’s media; MusicAfrica, PrimeTime Entertainment, Nigezie, Daar Communications, Silverbird Group, Flytime Promotions and a lot of artistes.

We’re all united on this. And we’re expecting that we should be able to win over a lot more and get them to fully appreciate the fact that this is not about Cally Ikpe. It’s about us as a people. What story is going to be told about us as a nation? Nigerians are their brothers’ keepers and it should be so reflected in the events that we do.

Between last November when the second edition was held and now, would you say there is really anything worth celebrating in the Nigerian music industry?

Yeah! a lot more colourful videos have come forth. I was thinking at some point that maybe, there won’t be so many music videos in contention and surprisingly there is a lot more than we had in the last two years.

Everything seems to be on the increase except that the only thing I’m not too happy about is that artistes are not earning what they should earn. The boom is not spreading. It just stuck in there somewhere so there’s a false impression in terms of earning.

A whole lot of people are suffering. I look at this and I’m very unhappy about it because I am one of those persons that believe that musicians deserve a lot more than they are getting presently anywhere in the world.

I recall speaking with one of your nominees last year after the show and he complained about unpopular videos receiving awards. What place has popularity in winning awards?

There’s no denying the fact that popularity has a role to play in almost everything that people do. There has to be at least some measure of popularity, but that’s not the only underlying factor. Fundamentally, the video has to be very good.

It’s only when there’s a tie, for example, that popularity may give a video an advantage. Otherwise, an obviously very good video pitched against one other video that is not good enough but has a popular director, artiste or even song does not mean that song should win.

Remember that these things that we’re judging today are going to be left behind for posterity and when those times come and people take a second look at your nomination/winners list, they’ll wonder what kind of a person you are.

We are very mindful about what people will think about us because then people will not be looking at popularity, they’ll just weigh the videos and wonder at our reasoning. We don’t just do things to favour anybody here and I’m not one of those people that believe that one artiste should be favoured above others.

Is the other one your enemy? Is the favoured one your supplier?

Each time you try to absolve yourself of having any hand in who wins what each year at the NMVA. Maybe you should state clearly what your role is in the execution of the NMVA project?

NMVA is beyond just handing out awards. The logistics that culminate into the awards itself is very heavy and serious. So we do the co-ordination and the judges sit all night in a place to score.

It is my responsibility to make sure that they come together, are comfortable, co-ordinated and the equipment with which they get to work are provided for. If there is a sudden technical issue somewhere, my attention is called and I see to it that it is fixed.

Basically, I co-ordinate the show itself, take care of acquisition of venue, sponsorship, there’s so much that’s required of me to do that I’m presently doing that is even maddening so it is quite a relief that I am not a part of the people considering what videos make the nomination list or even win. I don’t even wish to be part of that procedure.

What do we expect of the event itself?

We’re looking at a 3-hour event maximum. If you come in by 10pm, all lights would have been put out and every one gone. We know the next day is a work day and we’re expecting very disciplined and time-conscious people whom we do not intend to keep waiting.


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