By Victor Gotevbe & Simon Peters
Kenny St Brown needs no introduction as one of Nigeria’s most celebrated contemporary gospel artistes.
With a career spanning over a decade, she brought glamour and reckoning for gospel music in Nigeria at the time of her emergence on the scene.
Today, she is one of the artistes responsible for putting gospel music into the mainstream Nigerian music industry. Interestingly, KSB as she’s popularly called by her fans is stepping out for good. She has declared her intention to go into politics.
In this interview with Showtime Celebrity, the 2010 recipient of Soundcity Music Video Awards for Best Gospel video, explains why she wants to vie for a seat in the Lagos State House of Assembly come 2015 and many more…
What’s happening to Kenny St. Brown at the moment?
Well, KSB is currently channelling all her energies and passion into nation building. I want to go into politics to help build a nation that we will all be proud of. Not in terms of building infrastructure, nor ensuring that there is regular power supply in the country.
But it’s in the area of building our people. We are blessed with human resources and other nations refer to us as the giant of Africa. This is not because of the infrastructure in place in our country, but because of our population and the aboundance of man power.
My concern is for the youths. You know I’m youth-oriented. Unfotunately, we have a lot of graduates who are unemployed today. We all saw what happened few months ago, when Nigeria Immigration Service were recruiting young graduates into the service.
The service wanted to recruit about five thousand applicants, but over fifty thousand applicants showed up for the qualifying examinations. This showed that we are actually educated. So, our problem is not that of education, but the crave for greatness.
You said that you are re-channelling all your energies into re-orientating the minds of young Nigerians which are your target audience. How do you intend to accomplish this goal?
I’m still looking at my area of calling which is youth development. I have been involved in youth development programmes in the last 16 years, using our company, Kenny’s Music as a platform.
We have helped in pioneering not just a record label, but a company which has been able to discover raw talents as it developed them to become international acts.
The likes of Tu-face Idibia, Paul Play Dairo to mention but a few are products of Kenny’s Music. We have discovered over fifty artistes and most of these artistes we made them household names. We urged them to go and convert their brands into something else that can generate wealth for them even after they have stopped doing music.
Particularly, I have the ability to discover as well as ascertain how to divert the energies of our youths, especially in the area of entertainment. Since it has added to the GDP of the country.
What am I saying, if you have the kind of rescources that have been pumped into sports development over the years, if only 10 percent of such rescources have been pumped into the entertainment industry, things would have been different in this country.
Talking about Nigerian football for instance, the various teams we have like the Super Eagles, Under 23, Under 20, Under 17, Under 13 and before you know, we are going to have also Under 5. This indicates a system that encourages discovering of young footballers.
The likes of Odegbami, Nduka Ugbade, Jay Jay Okocha and the Kanu Nwankwos were discovered young, before they became international soccer stars. They made mega millions in pounds Sterling, but the British government did not fail to tax them heavily.
So, if 10 percent of what we have been spending on sports were channelled into entertainment you would be sure that Nigeria would become the centre of global entertainment. At the moment, we don’t have such funds in the entertainment industry.
Yet, we have world class entertainers as we are also adding to the GDP of the nation. Don’t you think, it’s high time we begin to put structures in place.
Let’s start from the grassroots by encouraging youth development. It’s obvious now that becoming a graduate does not make one useful. Before now, they used to say that if you don’t have anything you cannot become an artist.
But today, the story has changed. One does not need to be a rich man before becoming an artiste. Look at what MTV is doing in Africa today because of the talents that abound in Nigeria.
The truth is that there are lots of talented youths out there that don’t have the platform to showcase their talents. Oftentimes, either in the Church, or where I’m shopping, I have had to contend with these young talents who would want to give me their CDs and urged me to listen to their works so that I can help promote them.
There are so many of them like that but after listening to them what’s the next thing to do? They cannot afford to pay for air time. In most cases, I have sent so many of them to my brother, Baba Keke.
But it got to a point where Keke called me and said, they are too many. How many of them would I send to radio stations or individuals for assistance? But the money we need to develop these talents is in the hands of the government.
So, how do you intend to help in the area of putting the structures in place?
I can’t work for government at the moment. So, I have to join a political party to let them know what I can do to help the youths.
On which platform are you coming out?
I am contesting under the platform of All Progressives Congress, APC. I have been registered with APC, I’m in ward 4, ward D of Onigbongbo Local Government of Lagos. I’m very active in my ward as well as in my local government.
You are vying for what political office?
I want to contest for the membership of Lagos State House of Assembly.
What made you think that you can achieve all these goals?
Because it’s the legislative arm of government that make bills and laws. And Lagos State is the hub of entertainment; it’s the cosmopolitan city of Nigeria.
It took someone that has an insight into what LAWMA could do and he got into the government and said hey, we can do this! Till date, I still marvel at what LAWMA is doing in Lagos.
The workers keep the streets of Lagos clean. It’s same way I want to become a law maker starting with Lagos State House of Assembly. It is the youth all over the world that my heart is crying for.
Where is your constituency?
Onigbongbo Local Government in Ikeja, Lagos State is my constituency. And guess what! This is the hub of prostitution in Lagos State; Allen Avenue Junction, Opebi road and Doyin.
Why do you think that you are the right candidate to represent your people?
Actually, I have been a youth coach. Few weeks ago, I was at university of Lagos to deliver a lecture on “From Passion to Profession”, which was organised by the Lagos State government.
I was assisting the Senior Assistant to the Lagos State governor, Mr. Akim Animashaun. Recently too, we were at the College of Education, Akoka, where I taught the students on how to regenerate opportunities.
You said that you have been very active in you ward and local government. How active are you in your ward?
About 4-5 years ago, I was the face of education in my local government, the entertainer, as well as the ambassador of change leading the upgrading of public schools to meet up with the standard of that of private schools in my local government.
But until recently, the number of prostitutes on Opebi -Allen axis in the last ten months have increased to over 200 percent. This burden became so heavy in my heart.
You would see a beautiful young girl looking decent in the day time, while in the night, you would see same girl looking half-naked and you’d wonder what has happened to her over night? Isn’t somebody going to show them love and I just can’t fold my arms any more and watch things go wrong in our society.
There’s fire on the mounting, let’s be honest, see what corruption has done to us; see what happens when budget is not meeting project. …So, it’s high time we do something.
To be able to achieve your dreams, you need funds. How prepared are you to play the game of politics?
Well, why should I see problems and not see reasons I should be in the House of Assembly. Where there’s a will, there is a way. Because there is a will for me to help in the area of youth development in Lagos State, there will be a way out to achieve this goal.
Do you think it’s only by becoming a law maker that this particular project can be achieved?
Tell me which other way you can use government money, if democracy is government of the people by the people and for the people, how will the people benefit from the funds belonging to them? Tell me if there’s any other way because if I start an NGO now, you know how people have bastardized NGO’s. You should know that am not hungry. I told someone recently that everything that people have on their lips as prayer points, God has blessed me with. Tell me what is the prayer point now, if I have two cars, is it not only one car that I will drive? If I have a whole house, is it not one bed that I will sleep on? God has blessed me with a son and daughter. I have three degrees and I’m the CEO of my company, KSB International Consulting Company. I’m the vice president of Kennis Music. So, if people want to be famous thank God, I am famous at least for the last 16 years. I have become a household name. So, you can see that I’m a proud beneficiary of these factors in Nigeria. These are some of the benefits that Nigeria has offered me and it’s time for me to help government to transform the country.
Why did you choose APC as your party?
If you see what APC as a party has done in the states where they are controlling, you would be amazed. If you are familiar with how beautiful Lagos State is at the moment, then take a ride to Ogun State where APC is currently in control, and see the massive change that has taken place there. May be, you need to travel to Ibadan, Oyo State and behold the massive changes that have taken place in the city of Ibadan. Or better still, you travel to Osun State and behold what Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is doing in that state. APC signature is change; especially in the south-west. They have done so well in propagating change not just in the environment but also, in education, infrastructure, health, efficiency and many others. So, they are the team I want to work with for now.
What kind of change would you bring about when you eventually become a law maker in Lagos State?
Now, we are talking about funding, revenue and expenditure. You can’t take it away from the fact that Lagos State has about 57 LCDs and the federal government is funding only 27, according to their records. I am not trying to speak for governor Fashola right now, but the truth is that there is so much demand in respect of the amount of money the state is getting from the federation account. I am saying it would get to a point where the federal government would be able to recognise the great work that the Lagos State government is doing with the LCDA that they are not funding. The state government is using the little amount it’s generating internally to fund the other Local Governments.
Being a celebrated music star, are you going to dump music for politics?
I can’t stop singing. Singing is my nature, music is my life. Give me a stage now and I will kill the stage,. I will get you up and get you dancing. It’s a ministry; I am actually the youth pastor in my church, and every Sunday morning, I’m there. I am a professional person, I can’t say because of this I can’t do that. I’m never an idle person and again, I easily get bored doing one thing.
According to Karl Max, “religion is the opium of the people.”