Get ready to read a very long but revealing post by Azuka Ogujiuba .
So much has been rumoured, insinuated
and judged by all who were touched by the no-holds-barred interview I
had with one of Africa’s brightest singers, Tiwatope Savage-Balogun. If
not all, some of the accounts here and there deserve to be answered. And
this is my story.
and Owen Aisen’s wedding at the Landmark Hotel in London. She was one of
the bridesmaids at the wedding. I remember her walking up to me and
throwing sweet compliments at my daughter. That was enough to endear me
to someone who was before then a total stranger. She thought my daughter
was beautiful in her baby pink dress, shoes and stockings. People who
are close to me enough know I have a strong presence of mind. Let me
shock you and maybe Tiwa too. I recall quite vividly her exact words;
“She is so gorgeous, her hair is beautiful, l can’t wait to have a girl
and dress her up nicely like this.” And l replied her that she was
definitely have one someday by the grace of God. Every mother knows how
happy she gets when a stranger approaches her saying nice things about
her child that simply means you are taking good care of your child.
couldn’t but stare at this fine creature as she walked pass our tables.
She glowed and oozed confidence in the fuchsia pink mini bridesmaid
dress she wore with Lara Rawa, the CEO of Eventi Cocktails, who was part
of the bridal train. Though impressively unassuming, Tiwa was still a
spectacle at the wedding. She was a good dancer and a dyed-in-the-wool
kind of songstress. Almost effortlessly, her dance and voice were more
than entertaining. ‘Girl’ was a stunner! I had to tell her to try
entertainment, ‘come back home to Nigeria, Tiwa, you’ve got an appeal
that Nigerians will love.’ Down-to-earth, Tiwa’s British accent was huge
and the ‘aje-butter’ behaviour was unmistakable. She laughed and joked a
lot. She was friendly to everybody at the wedding and I could tell she
was so happy her friend was getting married.
call from Cecil Hammond who said he wanted me to meet and interview a
new female act. I avoided Cecil for as long as I could, but he kept
harassing me with phone calls and text messages because I always gave
him an appointment I never honoured. I underestimated her in my thought;
“which yeye hot female act be that? Which female act will be bigger
than my girl, Omawumi?” What will she be singing differently? And
besides, when they become big, they stop taking your calls or even say
‘hello’ when they see you” It might interest you to know that despite my
nonchalance towards Cecil, he never gave up on me. It got to a point I
had to ask him to call someone else to do the interview, but he insisted
he wanted me to do it. Cecil believed so much in Tiwa, he praised her
talents to high heavens. He shared with me a brief story about her life
and career until I eventually succumbed. When I got to him, behold, it
was the same lady who had said some of the nicest things about my
daughter the other day in London. Then I remembered humans are like a
river; we flow and meet again in a chain of events. Tiwa and I
recognised each other, hugged and exchanged pleasantries. I felt so bad
when I realised it was her. We all got chatting immediately and that was
when Tiwa realised I was a journalist. We exchanged telephone numbers
and BBM pins. Of course, I was excited to do her first ever interview
then, if I’m not mistaken.
said, “I really need you to assist this lady, we have to push her out
there; you just watch and see, she is going to be the biggest female act
in this country.” So, Cecil kept sending promotional materials on Tiwa
to me to publish in Thisday Newspaper. If memory serves me well, she
released ‘Kele Kele’, ‘Love me Love me ’, ‘Ife Wa Gbona’, ‘Do as I do
with P Square’. She started with Cecil Hammond’s Flytime Entertainment
in 2010. She attended the BET awards in 2011 while she was still with
Flytime and also shot ‘Love Me Love Me’ video. Her first shows with
Cecil Hammond was the Silverbird 30th anniversary, then the Rhythm
Unplugged show, AY live, Star Mega jam, among others. Tiwa was rising
fast and gradually becoming a household name in the music industry.
performed, she introduced Tunji Balogun, known as TeeBillz as her
manager, to me. TeeBillz and I struck it off immediately, and he too was
so interested in Tiwa’s success. He told me categorically to watch how
Tiwa would become the biggest female act in Africa, and I had no reason
to doubt his conviction; I was already a big fan. Then Efemena Tommy,
former TV personality and creative director of www.uberstyle.org
now based in Johannesburg, fell in love with Tiwa’s music and
automatically became a big fan with his close friend, Dayo Dane, who was
the face of HIP TV then; he is now based in New York. They both joined
the train and were excited to interview her on any red carpet and event
she attended. I know these young men adored Tiwa like a goddess.
TeeBillz was cool and very friendly; he was full of humour, and I used
to tease him about marrying Tiwa. I told him they looked so lovely as a
couple, “TJ you no go rush marry Tiwa, na your very eyes another man go
propose to her; dey drag leg for there, you hear?.” And we would laugh
it off. TeeBillz would reply, “We can’t get into that now, her career is
very important, she needs to make a mark.” What I remember now is a man
who wanted Tiwa to succeed, protective of her, knew Tiwa was fragile
and was not going to allow anybody cheat or talk down at her. He was
Tiwa’s ‘Voltron’. Like Tiwa, even TeeBillz behaved so much like a rich
kid who was feigning a street boy. He was emotional and very harmless,
but I honestly don’t know what to believe from the recent drama.
Everything’s now confounding. And a question that creeps to me, after
that debacle, is ‘at what point did things get this bad for this
beautiful pair?’No matter how pissed he was with her, why would he go to
social media to rant about his wife? Now what is this trend of going to
social media to air your private life? I still dont understand it. Now
every Tom, Dick and Harry even ants and cockroaches feel they have an
opinion over your life.
lovers that were so much in love with each other. I heard Tiwa’s ‘Kele
Kele love’ video was sponsored by TeeBillz. Why didn’t Flytime shoot the
video? I later heard there was an internal crisis. Honestly, I don’t
know what it was about. Later, I also discovered that there was a deal
between Cecil, Don Jazzy and Tiwa to move her to Mavin when it was to
launch out. It sounded so good because we needed Tiwa to be churning out
more hit songs and we were not in doubt of Don Jazzy’s competence. Tiwa
was like a loan to Don Jazzy, who had a clandestine plot to storm the
industry again with what would silence his friend-turned -rival, D’banj,
who was busy narrating to the press how MoHits crumbled. We were
super-excited when Don Jazzy introduced the Mavin Crew and Tiwa as its
that Tiwa’s first Pepsi deal started with Cecil Hammond when he took her
to meet Mr. Mazen, before they fell out and Paul Okoye took over and
concluded the deal. We don’t see often again as we all get busy on
different stuff, but TeeBillz kept in touch, we were even close and
spoke more often than Tiwa and I.
their romance public was at Elohor Aisen’s Elite Model Search 2012 when
and where TeeBillz kissed Tiwa on the red carpet to put paid to the
romance tale peddled around for months.
traditional wedding and then the destination wedding in Dubai planned by
Elohor Aisen. TeeBillz and Tiwa got nearly all their guests crying with
their marital vows and exchange, it was a beautiful wedding, so
inspiring and romantic. The surprise Prado SUV Tiwa got from Don Jazzy
was another high point of the night. We all dance almost till dawn.
enchanting until they started facing hitches in their home. Apart from
when Tiwa fired him as her manager, a lot of people didn’t know what was
going on, not even close friends to Tiwa like Elohor Aisen knew every
detail until some recent revelations. Tiwa didn’t want her business out
there I guess. Sometime, when I inquired about Teeblizz, she said he was
fine with a calm smile.
Plus page, which I was supposed to conduct with Lucy Ezeliora. She kept
telling me to hang on because TeeBillz and the ‘Pampers’ management had
to approve the pictures I wanted to use for the interview publication.
remind her about the interview, and it was Konye Nwabogor of Thisday
Style who called my attention to what instablog9ja reposted from
TeeBillz’s page, because she knows Tiwa is a friend. Immediately, I went
to his Instagram page, and was shocked to confirm that it was true
after all. I put a call across to Tiwa whose phone was busy for only God
knows how long, when I finally reached her, we had not even said
‘hello’ before the bad network snatched our calls. I knew Elohor was
with Tiwa, but her phone was equally busy. I got her by 11pm
after trying all day. I made it clear to her that I needed to speak
with Tiwa. She promised to pass my message across but I didn’t hear from
anyone till I went to bed.
my phone suddenly rang and disrupted my sleep. I was livid with anger,
cursing before I stretched my hand to pick the call. I was going to yell
at the caller when l saw Tiwa’s name, then I was a bit scared and I
looked at the time again, of course, it was not a dream. I picked the
call; it was Thompson, her PA. And I was like, “Hope there is no
problem.” He said everything was okay, but that Tiwa wanted to do the
interview with me immediately. “I can’t drive alone on that Third
Mainland Bridge; let’s it do it in the morning,” I retorted. But he
offered to come and get me and I said, “that’s cool.”
around. So I woke him up and pleaded with him to come with me to Lekki.
He thought I was mad, but I explained to him what happened. In no time,
Thompson was on my street and we were headed to Lekki. I recited my
darling Psalm 23 and took some prayer points too. It was on the Third
Mainland Bridge that I remembered to call my niece to go look after my
daughter, who was in my room. The road was so free and before I could
say Jack, we were in Tiwa’s house. I went straight to her bedroom, she
had a scarf on, wore a black T-shirt and black trousers, she was broken
and wept like a mourner. Thank God, Teeblizz was alive. She cried that
morning like someone who has just lost something precious. I tried to
console her, she looked dazed and confused, but she handed me her phone
to read her chat with her husband. As I sat on her bed to read, I
noticed Elohor’s eyes were swollen too; she was lying down on Tiwa’s bed
but jerked up when I came in. It took us a while to console Tiwa, but
hard as she tried to stop the tears, they continued streaming down her
face. It was when I realized that our chat would be recorded that I had
to remind her that she has to change her all-black outfit, because
people read meanings to things. A friend suggested she changed to a wig
because she is a star and she replied again with another round of
wailing; “I don’t care about this star thing, I am not wearing any wig, I
am doing my interview like this.” In the long run, we succeeded in
making her change her black T-shirt.
drama; she wanted a peaceful separation and was willing to assist
TeeBillz with whatever he wanted to do from the tone of their text
chats. Beloved, I marveled at Tiwa’s kind of heart! And my opinion
about her speaking up? I don’t see anything wrong with that because we
live in a society where people get disgusted about you when such
accusations come up without even allowing you to tell your side of the
story. It is worst when the accusation is from your partner.
entertainment couples that I remember now. The first was with the late
singer, Kefee Don Momoh and her ex-husband, Godwin Alec, who accused
each other of unfaithfulness and transfer of sexually transmitted
infections. The lovers gave damaging interviews about each other, but
then not many were on the social media, so it didn’t spread like
wildfire. But it was quite messy; they remarried, but with no drama
this time around from their new spouses until our Keffe passed on. Bless
Don Jazzy and his Marvin Company paid me N2million to do the interview. I
also heard Pulse bought the rights of the interview from me and I kept
on laughing in my Owerri dialect. How people idly sit down and fabricate
stories should be a case study in schools soon.
in ages neither have I spoken to Dr. Sid too. The last time I saw Don
Jazzy was at Sen. Ben Bruce’s 60th birthday party but he was so far from
me and the last time I saw Dr. Sid was at the UBA CEO Awards where he
performed with Tiwa Savage.
saw some unknown faces, some relations and Elohor. And in Pulse, the
only people I know are Osagie Alonge and Gbenga Bada, who worked with me
on Thisday Saturday desk. The last time we exchanged pleasantries was on my birthday.
interview was meant for Thisday newspapers. Before we started, the guys
made it clear to me that they would also like to record the interview
with their camera and I innocently agreed. They said they didn’t want
Tiwa misquoted. I didn’t even think the interview would be televised.
The next day I got a call asking me when I would publish the interview,
so I said on Saturday which should be a week after.
festival at the Freedom Park, Lagos to watch Orliam perform when my
phone started ringing ceaselessly, “we just saw your interview with Tiwa
Savage,” someone said. I didn’t understand it; I was angry and shocked
and I wanted to hear from Tiwa first.
day, she explained to me that since I was not publishing soon the
management decided to also share with a TV.
works in the media- that since she has addressed the allegations leveled
against her by TeeBillz, any medium that reports it first has broken a
hell of a story. I told her that I could get into big trouble in my
office because of that. She apologised sincerely and pleaded with me not
to be angry.
bullying and attacks erupted after my interview with Tiwa Savage, the
teachings by Dr. Daniel Olukoya kept me going. Some of the attacks were
very objective, but from some, you can sip jealousy in the taste of the
wine, others were just losers with a deep hole of frustration in their
souls. You also have those you could tell the Lagos heat had fried their
brains and they needed just anything to cool off. Different tongues
wagged… but what do tongues do really? They wag of course. These people
turned themselves to social media jurists, English teachers,
journalists, PR experts and jobless critics with heavy logs in their
eyes but willing to remove the speck in yours first.
has a shortcoming. No matter how gifted or intelligent you are, there
may be a particular area where you are not exceptional. Your hands might
be skillful; you might even be a genius in science but your capacity
for the arts might be nowhere near impressive. You might be a great
thinker, but your power for analysis might be poor. The truth is that
there are a lot of things you cannot do. Those who claim that they are
able to do virtually everything will soon discover that they are at best
jacks of all trades and masters of none.
cannot do, it might be difficult to detect and maximize your talents and
areas of competence. A lot of people have remained under achievers
because they have allowed themselves to be intimidated by obvious
shortcomings and inadequacies. Concentrating on the talents or the
skills which you lack may blind you to the explosive resources that are
locked up within you. One of the greatest secrets of achieving greatness
lies in discovering areas in which you have the best advantage,
exploring those areas and maximizing the latent energy within them,
according to Dr. Daniel Olukoya, “Nobody is asking you to live a carbon
copy of another person. No matter who you are, there is something you
can do that others cannot do. Remove your focus from what you cannot do.
Put your energy on what you can do.” Therefore, I’m putting my energy
on writing (print journalism) which is what I can do and not TV for
which I was never trained. You see why it‘s unfair to compare me with
your TV idols?
jibes at me, I saw all the messages and, guess what? They made me even
stronger because the good criticism, I took to heart, the hate comments
and insults out of jealousy, I have packaged and sent back to the
senders. Like Julius Agwu said on his previous interviews, I feel like
mentioning names. Maybe not yet. My friends told me to delete the
hateful comments on my Instagram and Facebook pages. I was advised to
block the jobless cyber bullies, I didn’t bother doing it because I
honestly don’t care about jobless social media trolls, faceless and
anonymous characters can’t cow me. I was even advised to go on private, I
refused because I didn’t think these critics had a say in how I live my
life or practise my profession. Cyber bullying has no space in my
territory, so they should stop wasting their data. These ‘yeye dey smell
for jankara’ market mobile bullies are busy hating while I’m busy
snooping for my next scoop. I’m not a celebrity, not a singer or an
actress but a fun loving journalist. Yes, I’m on the social media
because I enjoy social media, I love taking pictures of myself and
capturing the moments of my fun-filled journalistic activities. I’m from
the traditional media where we don’t see ourselves or portray ourselves
as celebrities. We are only interested in breaking news or getting
scoops unlike the OAPs and some TV hosts who have used social media to
turn themselves to overnight celebrities. Life is all about choice and
they’ve made theirs.
online interview that I was not a TV journalist, the next point of
attack was that I’m an irresponsible mother for leaving my daughter at
that time of the day to go and interview Tiwa. And I was like ‘why do I
have to bother myself over some people who don’t understand journalism’
One person compared me Christiane Amanpour who is one of the biggest
risk takers in journalism, breaking news and covering war zones before
she started the interview programme in the CNN studios. I love her of
course, she is a role model, but comparing me to her is far-fetched.
And Oprah Winfrey’s name was mentioned; I’m not a fan and l don’t want
to be like her or anybody, I’m not a copy-cat.The genuine and objective
criticism will make me work on myself next time before those
interview, even the way they complained I stared at her and my
emotional detachment are matters I have no regrets about. It was a face I
deliberately put up to hide and deal with anxiety and my emotions. I
wonder what they would have said if they’d televised when tears trickled
down my face, so the world will come down on me or what? What if I had
grilled her emotionlessly like I would do on a good day? Will they
protest against me on the streets of Lagos? The fact that I know Tiwa
and Teeblizz personally made it a tough one for me to conduct that
interview, but I had to do my job. And I did it to the best of my
ability at that time. Tiwa even had to console me at a point, “Sis,
don’t let all the comments bother you a bit, you have done your best and
I think you need to address this and let people know we are friends.”
kids by other women and may she be impressionable enough to toss her
dice with that man, all in the name of music management and move it to
other things and start to leech on your sister financially as she climbs
the ladder of stardom, while he continually reminds her that he made
breadwinner, while her husband does nothing but enjoy his life, pile up
debt and seek after edible catering.
music career, caring for her child and the family financially and her
husband be more concerned about home cooking and attention.
lid on their troubled marriage using Instagram and attempting suicide
just to get back at your sister – accusing her of all misdemeanours even
though he is no saint himself-having fathered children by different
of them are no saints, just as we are no saints too in our different
lives. But trying to vilify only the woman in this matter is lopsided
justice. I think she gave the marriage her best shot” I couldn’t help
but add his facebook intervention to my story.
ours drew my attention to that article published in the driest
entertainment portal of yours, TheNet.ng listing a number of females who
could have done a better interview with Tiwa Savage than me.
compare me with TV presenters who I watched grow their careers and with
the help of social media (Instagram and Twitter) gained public notice. I
even expected you to mention yourself because we are both experienced
in this field. But being sexist, ethnocentric, and ‘fantastically
slyly’, you wanted to spite me. Where did that take you? How many
billions have you made from attempting to use my name to drag traffic to
your site? In Mama Peace’ tone, continue!
to go and do a job, one that you wouldn’t dare. Have you forgotten
Tiwa has a known friendship with quite a number on the list of your OAPs
in radio and TV living in the same Lekki maybe 5-10 minutes from her,
but she called me? It means I’m either good at my job or I’m respected
enough by her and her team.
that list of OAPs, comparing them to me is a shade I will not ignore,
especially for the fact that you once worked in Thisday, as freelance
journalist. I didn’t bother going to your dry website. Dayo Sowemimo, my
very good ‘aburo’ and colleague, whom you tricked me with lies and
poached from Thisday right under my eyes, is on my BBM. Whenever he
sends his broadcast, I take a look, if the news is worth it, I read and
even put a call across to him, but if not I ignore it. So, I never saw
any broadcast from him about that list and I wonder why. But, when our
colleagues started calling me to know why Ayeni published that ‘shopping
list’ on his ‘dunghill’, I told them he’s hurrying himself to infamy. I
made it clear to them that we are not on talking terms after the last
at bay. Ayo Animashaun had issued extra invitations to me for his
annual event. I started calling this lord of the manor, Ayeni, two days
before the event, but true to type, he wouldn’t pick my call or return
them. I called him throughout the day of the event, sent him text
messages, but he would not respond. Then last minute when I had changed
my mind about attending the event, one of his boys called me. I got to
the venue and his boy was not picking his calls anymore, I stood out for
almost 30 minutes, my heels were not smiling at my feet anymore. Then I
saw Yaw of Wazobia FM- we were both at Ali Baba’s 1st of January
concert- he worked my access into the show. At this point, I was so
disgusted and angry inside the Landmark Centre. I saw the lanky thing in
his old-fashioned white robe, forming CEO. Can you believe what he
asked me? “Are you having fun?” I didn’t need anyone to tell me what
stunt he was pulling. He’d done one slyly poaching Sowemimo from my
desk. And it’s no longer news that he does not pick calls anymore from
his former colleagues, especially if he feels you’ve not risen to his
level yet. Quite frankly, I defended him so much until he meted the same
treatment to me.
you are not bigger than my publisher, MD, Dele Momodu, Kunle Bakare,
Mayor Akinpelu, even the MD of Guardian newspapers. As busy as these men
are, they still pick calls and return calls so who do you think you
are?” And I stormed out of the venue, sped home. That moment, I
muttered, Father Lord please don’t ever let me find myself in a position
where I have to turn to colleagues like this guy for any assistance.
assessment of my conduct of the interview, it was so bad to many, but
did you all get the facts that you needed to get? Yes! What’s the
essence of an intelligent interview?
well without any form of accent, apart from the fact that I stutter and
I talk so fast like a typewriter. I believe that my originality is part
of what has brought me this far.
comparing me with your OAPs is a hog wash. Ayeni, can you tell these
your so-called better interviewers to write a prose, features or a news
story too? They practice on the medium of journalism and I do mine.
almost all the continents in the world practicing my so called
“unprofessional journalism” and I have interviewed some of Nigeria’s
greatest men and women. And you, Ayeni, mentioned one exclusive or a
scoop attributed to you as a journalist, nobody is asking you about the
interview you had with D’banj when Mo’hit broke o. Which important
dignitary have you interviewed in your life as a journalist before you
started your mushroom PR practice with a firm that can barely put a
flawless press release together? Oh, I hope you’ve also got a frank
review of the balderdash you wrote as the biography of Innocent Idibia
story in prose form as a print journalist, it is over five thousand
microsoft words, can any of your AOP’s do same?
entertainment scene with your entertainment conferences that only a
select few know about in the industry, you could have been called to
moderate that interview. Are you so pained I was called to do the
exclusive with Tiwa? I used to have respect for you but it slowly
fizzled out. And last time I checked, I have never restored my respect
for anyone who lost it. All I see here is jealousy and envy. But you
need to understand that I am a mover and nothing can stop me.
social media pages are still welcome, let the part two of the cyber
bullying continue. No shaking. C’est finis, for now!