By ogbonna Amadi, Prince Osuagwu, Ben Njoku and Opeoluwa Akintola –
Barely two weeks after the nation woke up to the news of the death of prominent artiste, Twin Seven-Seven, The Lady of songs and one of Nigeria’s most prominent musicians, Christy Essien Igbokwe is dead. She died in an undisclosed hospital in Lagos.
She passed on to eternity yesterday morning after a brief illness, her husband of more than thirty-one years, Edwin Igbokwe confirmed to Vanguard.
Aged 50, Mama PMEAN as the songstress was more fondly called by musicians was one of the founding members of what is today known as the Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMEAN).
“My wife passed on this morning” was the way husband Chief Edwin Igbokwe confirmed news of her death to our reporter.
It was however reported that Madam Christy who made her last public appearance at the finals of the Idol Nigeria, a reality show, where she sang one of favourite evergreen songs ‘Seun Rere’ was ill for only three days.
Her thirteen-year-old son Samuel who also confirmed news of his mothers’ death said she had premonitions of her death.
“My mum had prophesied earlier in the year that she would die and today, her prophesy has come to pass.”
‘It’s all over for The New Masquerade’
Chief Zebrudaya speaks on Christy Essien-Igbokwe’s death
Reactions have continued to pour in from all quarters as Chika Okpala, popularly known as Chief Zebrudaya Okorigwe Nwogbo Alias 4.30, the lead character in the now rested TV drama “The New Masquerade” has described Christy’s death as “shocking and a very big blow to the entertainment industry in Nigeria.”
Christy was one of the casts of the satirical NTA series where she acted the very engaging character, Apeno and wife to loquacious character, Jegede Sokoya.
Her short role in that popular sitcom that was rated the most popular television drama in the 70s and 80s’ helped put her in the limelight.
Reacting to her death, Chief Zebrudaya said that since Christy left the set of the New Masquerade, they have not been able to get somebody that would play her role excellently.
“Christy carved out an nice for herself, while acting alongside Clarus Mgbojikwe alias Acting Big Man. We missed her on the set. Since she left the production, we have not been able to get somebody to fit into her role. We pray that ‘Chineke’ God should give her a second chance so that she can return to us.”
“I don’t know what to now, Jegede died a long time ago, while Clarus has gone blind. Giringori is based in Umuahia and Ovuleria has relocated to London. It’s a pity, I’m confused.” Zebrubdaya lamented.
Christie was a nice colleague
She was our professional colleague back in the days of the now rested TV drama, “The Masquerade’
With Chief Zebrudaya Okorigwe Nwogbo Alia 4.30, as the lead character, Christie was a good woman, and she related well with all the cast and crew of that production. Now that she is no more, I’m afraid of the unknown. I’m short of words…
Her best kept Secrets, Regrets and Controversies
How she became PMAN president:
What many people may not know is that becoming president of PMAN in 1994 was never Chrisy Essien Igbokwe’s will.
In 1994 when PMAN was passing through one of its most trying periods, the elders of the union became afraid that the union may break up and so decided to approach Igbokwe, who was a founding member of the association in the first place.
The story went that in the dead of the night some of the elders of the association then, went to the Lady of Songs, Christy Essien- Igbokwe at her Onipetesi residence. In fact, in one of her interviews Igbokwe herself described that night as a dilemma in her life.
“I was working on my eleventh album when some old men from PMAN came and forced me to become PMAN president. I was forced because it was not my choice. That was 1994. I did not campaign because it was not my desire. I had already secured a contract for a world tour. We had gone to the American embassy and secured visas for all mymusicians.
“They said that since I founded PMAN, I was their mother and must come to stop the problems in the association. They further threatened that If I did not, they would tell the world that I did not mean well for musicians. It was a kind of blackmail”
However, her return to office which was celebrated by musicians was marred by controversies towards the end of the tenure.
One million man march saga
Igbokwe, known for her artistic prowess on stage, charisma and dedication to her music, was truly living a spotless life until the late General Sani Abacha’s desire to sit tight in office and subsequent organisation of a one million man-march in support, by Daniel Kanu, tricked her and her entourage to Abuja.
As PMAN president, she was hugely criticised for leading a few other musicians to the two million-man march organised in Abuja for the “Abacha must stay in office” campaign. After the incident, the controversies which trailed it, perhaps, prompted her decision to leave office and went into private business.
This scandal became one of the few regrets of her life, not necessarily because she deliberately participated in the show of shame, but because she was grossly mistaken and generally condemned despite her explanations.
Allegations on embezzlement
One of the controversies that the lady of songs, Christy Essien Igbokwe, tried to clear her name from while alive, was the allegation by Charley Boy that she embezzled money while in office.
According to her, it was the wives of Jeremiah Useni, Abacha and Babangida that saved her world from collapse at the time.
“They sympathised with my state. One day Mariam Abacha almost broke down in tears and said ‘why did you accept this job? Why are they putting you through all this? That was after they discovered that during my tenure all the money that came to PMAN went to PMAN account and not mine. In fact, I did not collect their money. I told the treasurer to do his job. So Dokpesi called Charly Boy to order.
Mariam assisted me in facilitating the payments. The ‘Judas’ in my office continued to betray me. They are now saying that my administration was the best and most caring.”