People in power contended that, African culture does not approve of the occupation of music as a profession rather as a recreation. The leadership of the union was declared communist. The then finance minister Chief Festus Okotie Boh who had such phobia of communism and would not shake hands with any one, regardless of how slightly one is tainted with communism, wanted them reprimanded and ostracized. The minister of labour who was openely sympathetic to the musicians recoiled and kept aloof.
Since then the fate of popular musicianship in NIGERIA is left hanging in the balance and dangling, having no direction nor purpose . Yet the government of Nigeria is signatory to the Bern-convention Copyright declarations, the world intellectual property right, etc and having bilateral cultural exchange, including popular music, with many overseas governments. Also, pays Copyright and other taxation on the use of music incredibly, still cannot envision in Nigeria,music as an economic venture.
The civil servants in the ministries, many of them cannot even differentiate a Cornet from a Trumpet or the Trombone from a Saxophone, contend themselves to attending UNESCO and other popular music related conferences in Europe ASIA and North and South America usurping what should have been coming for the musicians. To this day, except for the visit to GUAYANA in 1988, no popular musician has benefited from these cultural exchange agreements.
Ridiculously, the same Government which does not recognise musicianship as a trade, turned around and imposed ENTERTAINMENT TAX on popular music. Where does government expect popular musicianship to recuperate such tax money from. Because in the traditional settings where music, in fact, Art in general, is recreational and community based. Events are open and free . No one pays gate fee. But in the case of popular musicianship people pay gate fees to watch performances. They pay to buy records, memorabilias, magazines books, post cards, and tapes to hear feel and absorb popular music. Here performance is not a free event. Popular musicianship therefore is a highly money spinning enterprise. We can assume that government always in search of revenue, must have come to this realisation, hence the imposition of ENTERTAINMENT TAX. Who then is government fooling on its stand against popular musicianship. Because this is clearly a double standing on the issue. What happened after the exclusion? Popular musicians simply regressed back to the practice of earlier times when musicianship was void of ideology and to regroup into a nominal Association, with he band leaders dictating the affairs as before. The Association lacked direction it was inept and lethargic. Going no where. It's lack lustre leadership slumped to it's lowest when the executive tacitly, and otherwise decided to narrow it's focus on Yoruba. The language which subsequently became the linqua at general meetings. This event alienated the on Yoruba speaking members, and brought about fractionalisation and the formation of different Associations. Nigerians, of course being themselves competitive people could see no wrong in such development. After all, Nigeria is a democracy practising free market economy. Why should musicians not have more than mouth piece but they must be organised coherent and purposeful.
If we look around the globe we will see that there are hardly any human institution and organisation that is totally monolithic. They all have a second organ, a shadow body as an alternative stand by.
It isn't so with popular musicianship in NIGERIA.. A musician association in Nigeria believes in absolute monopoly. There should be no second or rival association. This is wrong and contrary to the spirit of competitiveness and democracy. Perhaps what makes musician association in Nigeria intolerant and vicious and destructive of one another is the introduction of the word different. Musicians everywhere are fighting for the same cause and goal autonomy, good working condition, economic success, fame and prosperity. What is likely to be different is the method of approach between two organisations of the left and right devide. And this is how it should be when we remember the wise ancient saying, "YOU DONT PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET We dont need to tell you here what happens should that basket fall and is smashed.
Alternative is a way of life. The right to belong and to be able to pick and choose with whom and what one wants to be associated with and interact, socially, politically and economically. All of which is still largely alien to the temperament and culture of musicianship in NIGERIA.