By BENJAMIN NJOKU
More than three decades after he left the scene, Felix Libarty (a.k.a Lover Boy) who once ruled the airwaves in Nigeria in the 80s with his hit song, “Ifeoma,” is feeling disturbed today.
The Edo State-born singer-turned-pastor who had all the good things going for him then; fame, wealth and women while the ovation was very loud, is an unhappy man following his inability to provide love, care and financial support to his nineteen children from seven different women.
Sounding sober and humbled by his past, repentant Libarty in this telephone interview with Showtime Celebrity relives memories of his regrettable past mistakes, warning, however, young music stars to beware of the antics of desperate women who will surely come after them to ruin their lives. He also reveals his readiness to do collaboration with any young musician and many more.
Are you a pastor in Benin at the moment?
The head quarters of my church, Divine Revelation Church, is located in Benin. Presently, we are planning to set up a branch in Abuja.
You had a branch in Lagos before now. What happened?
The place we had in Lagos then was not expansive enough compared to the space we are currently occupying in Benin. But we are coming back to Lagos by the grace
How are you getting on with the work of God?
There is nothing that can be better than that.
The best thing that I have ever done is to be able to get myself involved in the work of God . This is because when He calls you and you yield to the call, you are going to be living the life of a Christian. And living the life of Christian is beyond this world.
Like the biblical Saul later christened Paul, have you faced any prosecution, rejection and embarrassment since you began your journey into knowing the deeper things of God?
I face prosecution every now and then. But all those prosecutions are obstacles that are meant to make one strong, so that you can understand the grace of God upon your life. Yes, temptations have been coming my way, but no temptation can hold me back . Sometimes, you pray for temptation to come your way so that you can exercise the faith that the Lord has given you.
Would you say you wished you had accepted Christ at the peak of your career as a singer back in the days?
Nobody discovers God when he or she wants to. God has to call you to himself for one to be able to discover him. I didn’t decide to follow God, rather God called me to work for Him.
But you were once a Muslim. How come you suddenly converted to Christianity?
I was once a very strong and devoted Muslim. I love Islam and I still love it till tomorrow. Religiously, I am a Muslim. Religion is a way man relates to his God but salvation is God calling you back to himself. No man can get salvation except God approves it, but you can be a religious man if you want to.
At what point did He call you?
I got the call at the tail end of my prosperity in music. So, he called me into this ministry and that’s what I am doing today.
What was your response when you got the call?
I was a very strong practicing Muslim. I love Islam till date. But my Islamic life at the moment is the life of destinity. And that’s exactly why Jesus Christ came into this world, and that’s why I received the way I was called by Him. When I was a Muslim, I worked as religious person, but now that I am in Christ, I am a spiritual person. There is a great difference between a spiritual person and a religious person.
When you were in the world, things were rosy for you. Is it the same today?
When you are in the world, you strive for everything. But when you are in Christ Jesus, you must work in obedience with God’s commandments. When you are in the world, you don’t work in obedience. You do things the way you like. When I was singing “Ifeoma”, I did things that pleased me. But today, whatever I want to do, I must hear from God . He has to lead me.
Does it mean that you will have nothing to do with music again?
I have so many songs that are yet to be released. But I’m just waiting for God to bring people that will collaborate with me. I will be doing songs that will bring sinners back to God. I will love to go into collaboration with these emerging artistes, but it has to be songs that will glorify God. I am a man under authority at the moment.
Loking back, is there anything you are regretting or mistakes you made then that you wish you could correct today?
There are so many things I didn’t do right, and I have asked God to forgive me. The issue of having children here and there was a very bad mistake I made. My regret till date, is my inability to provide love, care and financial support to all of my children. You cannot bring a child into this world and you can’t take proper care of him. You cannot bring a child into this world without showing him enough love.
Every child has a right to his own destiny, and his destiny will be fulfilled through the love and care you have shown to him. And all these things I didn’t have them and it hurts. I was just like a fool who believed he was a superstar. There was nothing in me at all. Any man who does not know Jesus is not fit to live.
Do you still come in contact with all your children?
Of course, I talk to them most of the time. But I am not doing enough for them as a father. That’s my biggest regret.
What of their mothers. Do you still relate well with them?
Yes, I also come in contact with most of them. Again, you don’t blame them because you wouldn’t want to have anything to do with a man that has disregarded you, put you in bondage and allowed you to take care of the resulting children all alone. A woman should run away from such a man.
Would you say it was part of the price you paid as a star back in the days?
It wasn’t a price per se, it’s just that I was selfish. Every woman that came my way then I wanted to date her. It’s not a good omen. You must look for your wife, and stick to her. It has to be one woman. That’s my advice to all these young music stars that are making waves today. They should beware of women. Marriage is sacred. I am telling all the young stars to stay away from women. They will come after them and later lead them to a life of regrets.
You wedded a woman a few years ago. Was she one of the women that had children for you?
The woman that I am currently married to, Rosemary, is the best woman that I got involved with. She is the mother of my first four children.
How did she feel when she realized you had children from other women?
She couldn’t cope as she left me for awhile. But when I became born again, she came back to me.
Each time you hear the word, ‘Lover Boy’, does it remind you of anything in the past?
It reminds me of all the success I made during my time as a music star and some of the things that I am regretting now. But at the end of the day, I give glory to God that I was able to come out of it. I now live a Christ-like life. I enjoyed all the success that music gave to me while it lasted. I loved it so much when my music was making waves, to the point that it got into my head. But it wouldn’t happen again.
While the ovation was loud, you disappeared from the scene and relocated abroad, what informed your decision?
Relocating abroad was good but it was a wrong decision I made. While I was abroad, I wasn’t getting the happiness that I craved for. Each time, I visited home from America, I found myself being happy. I would get all the attention but, while I was in America, I wasn’t getting any attention. There, I daily struggled to eat, but at home, I lived a life of grace because God said, ‘this is where I belong.’ If I had known, what I would have done then, was to stay back in Nigeria and be touring countries in Europe and America.
What would you say is the missing link between your time and what obtains today in the Nigerian music scene?
Musicians of yesteryears did it for the passion they have for music. Then they were not thinking of the material gains or fame, rather how to perfect their crafts. Today’s musicians are more concerned about making money. They wouldn’t go to school nor master how to play the instruments. But I must confess, today’s musicians are very talented. There is need for them to become professional singers.
They have to go into having a band, learn the trade properly because if you don’t learn the trade you can’t give what you don’t have. Music is a spiritual thing. It has to be inborn. It’s just like Fela, any time you listen to his songs, you wouldn’t believe he’s no more. His music is evergreen because he is a core professional musician. They are very good at delivering good songs,but they are nowhere professionally.
My stage now is to win souls for Jesus Christ. If you call me for evangelism I will honour the invitation. If you invite me to come and perform at a spirit-filled concert, I will honour the invitation. That’s what we used to call entertainment at that time. It will now be a platform for spiritual manifestation to win souls for Christ. I intend to start organizing Holy Ghost inspired concerts, what people call crusade. The concert is going to be powered by music.
You once confessed that your mother was a strong influence in your success as a singer then. Why was it so?
It was because I thought she was the one who was giving me the strength to move about as she was into some fetish things. But I didn’t know that it was Jesus that gave me the strength to achieved what I achieved in music.
But when you told her that you have embraced Christ, what was her reaction?
At first, she thought I was going astray. But later, when she found out that I was really called by God, she started encouraging me, even until she gave up the ghost.