5 years after: Sunny Neji opens up on his GLO ambassadorship saga
By FLORENCE AMAGIYA
Sunny Neji popularly known as Mr. Fantastik became a Glo ambassador in 2008 alongside other artistes like D’banj, Pasuma and Sammy Okposo. But while they were still on the bill, Neji’s contract was however, not renewed. The decision not to renew the Ogoja, Cross River State-born singer’s contract reportedly worth N20million at inception, was not unconnected with his perceived declining rating and relevance in the music industry.
It was also said that Neji has not hit a commercial height since the release of his 2006 album, Off Da Hook. However, five years after the controversy that trailed the termination of the contract, Neji has come out to put the record straight. He also talks about his music, the UN Peace Ambassador award which he received recently, and his plans to delve into movie production in future.
What are you doing at the moment?
I’m currently planning to sign on new artistes to work under my label called Impact. Even though the environment has been unfriendly, I’m trying as much as possible to adapt to the system that we find ourselves today.
You celebrated your birthday anniversary recently by giving out an iphone 5 to the best writer of your quiz competition. What are we expecting from you this year?
I’m yet to decide on the kind of project I would want to embark on this year. For the iphone 5, most people didn’t believe I was determined to give out an iphone until someone won the gift. Naturally, I love giving and it is the only way you can show your love to humanity.
But in Nigeria today; it has become a regular practice where recognitions are accorded to undeserving individuals.
As one of the new UN Peace Ambassadors, do you think some of your colleagues that made the list merited the award?
I wasn’t one of the judges that compiled the list. I think there must have been some criteria for the selection of the ambassadors and the organizers knew what they were looking for in every selected ambassador. I want to believe to a large extent that these people who were given those awards must have met their criteria and I happen to be a recipient of the UN Peace Ambassador award.
I want to believe that somehow, we must have merited the awards. It is not as if I did anything to be nominated for the award. I was in my house when I got a telephone call that I had been nominated for the award. For me to be nominated, it has to do with who I am and the little contribution I have made towards the betterment of humanity. I was grateful that someone had seen what I have been doing. I felt humbled.
You embarked on a ship cruising adventure with iroKOTV recently. What was the experience like?
It was one of my fans from my State who invited me on board a ship. I have never been on board a ship before in my life. It was quite an interesting adventure; iroKOTV crew was available and it was also their first time on board a ship. Life on a ship is a different world especially if you are cut off from everything you are familiar with, from everything you are used to. You are with elements you are not familiar with and it’s humiliating if you can imagine that you are on board a ship and something terrible happens. It was a memorable experience.
You write beautiful and evergreen songs, where do you draw your inspiration?
My mood inspires my songs, my experiences, people inspire me. The things I read about also inspire me;challenges I face in life and so on. All these things inspire me. I don’t compose songs out of a vacuum. I write songs that emanate from my environment. I believe that’s the reason people easily connect with my music. I do not sing out of the blues; I sing about tangible things; tangible in the sense that people can feel my songs and sometimes learn one or two things from the songs.
Let us talk about a song you did recently. The song you titled Lovey Dovey, what inspired the song?
You know what is happening in the world today; everything is getting computerized, cooking is computerized. One day, lovemaking would be computerized! I was trying to convey the message that while I appreciate the age of ICT, there are certain things we shouldn’t allow the trend to take away from us.
The fact that we still need to connect romantically, we still need our bodies to touch! We shouldn’t let the age of computer to take that away from us. Lovey Dovey’ I want some Lovey Dovey because computer cannot give me the eye to eye, the body contact, the smell of your breath. The computer cannot replace of these things and we shouldn’t allow it.
Do you have any plan to go into acting?
Of course, I’m an actor. I have acted alongside Rita Dominic in a movie titled ‘Proof of Life.’ I played the lead role as a lawyer. It was a very challenging, yet interesting experience. I find acting very interesting, especially if the role is challenging. Acting takes a lot of time, that’s why I haven’t been hitting the location as frequently as I would love to. But in future, I would love to produce my own movie.
Why are you sounding so spiritual?
I have been spiritual from time and it has always affected the way I speak. I cannot say anything outside what God has inspired me to say. I am not where I am today because of my own efforts. It is because of the grace of God upon my life. God has been very good to me even though I haven’t appreciated Him enough in return. I do not take my relationship with Christ for granted; that’s the whole essence of Christianity.
Have you ever had a sad moment?
Yes, I have had sad moments, but one special thing about me is that I do not keep counts of sad moments. I do not keep counts of sadness, I do not keep counts of negativity. I have learnt to live above them. I have learnt that whenever something goes wrong it is because something is about to go right. If something is out of place around me, I wouldn’t bother about it. Instead I will plan to right the wrong because there is always a way, God makes a way even when you cannot see it.
You were one of GLO ambassadors, what happened to your contract?
Actually, I was one of GLO ambassadors while it lasted in 2008. The contract has ended, and I have moved on. As a GLO ambassador, I was faithful to the brand. I kept my own side of the contract by not representing another brand throughout the duration. Today, I can confidently say that Glo and I did not have any issue.
How come you have a way of changing your style of dressing, your hair-do and perhaps you even have more in the closet?
Well it is called branding and rebranding; It goes with the territory. You just want to look interesting; you keep people talking. There should be always something to talk about. Look at you; you have been following up my transformation, interesting. If l have had one look all these times you wouldn’t have had anything to talk about. So the moment l add something or put something, it keeps me in your conversation.