By Gilbert Alasa.
The ongoing squabble between the duo of Peter and Paul Okoye of Psquare remains the latest of band split to have emerged from the Nigerian entertainment scene. Recall The Remedies? And Styl Plus? Or the Mo’Hits duel that pitched a magical producer against a master entertainer?
While the controversy had ripped the digital space open with sordid details of the twin singers’ brawl and their manager-brother Jude involvement in the lingering crisis, Peter, in an exclusive interview with THENETNG, has given emotional account of the scuffle and why the war is far from being over.
Earlier, there were speculations that the crisis would turn out as another publicity stunt as entertainers are reputed to employ, just to sell a few more albums or grab reasonable media mentions.
But Paul’s account has since showed that the deed had, more or less, been done as far back as December 2015 and the eventual split seems like a better way to end what has become a marriage of convenience for years.
‘The issue was the fact that I was in Psquare and it felt like I was in fear. If I don’t do this, Psquare will break-up, if I don’t do that, Psquare will scatter.”
In Peter’s account, threats of a possible break-up had coloured their story over the years, but for the seeming concern of fans who, perhaps, felt it was pretty unwise for them to thread the way of Plantashun Boiz, especially at a time when it seems their light is far from losing steam.
‘So, a few hours after, Paul came to me and said if I want Jude to step down it’s not a problem, but it’ll mean that he will go solo. The first time word got out about Psquare breaking up, a lot of people called us, senators, governors, and people like that. In fact, three of us were once in a private jet to go and see someone who wanted to resolve our issues and we didn’t speak to each other all through the flight. At the end of the day, I swallowed my pride for peace to reign and allowed Jude to remain as our manager’.
Again, the absence of a proper structure, Peter alleges, may have been responsible for some of the bad blood that ruined, perhaps, Nigeria’s longest surviving musical band. And for a group that carries the halo of a family business, formal arrangements in dealings are likely to be jettisoned under the cloak of familiarity.
“Imagine if Jude had a proper structure and we had contracts? That wouldn’t happen. And it was more because the show came through me. If the show came through Jude it wouldn’t have happened. I don’t have a problem with doing things as a family, but then the structure and proper organization is important too. The name Psquare is very big outside but inside we have no structure, I see people like Audu of Chocolate City, Mavin Records, even Ubi Franklin and I wanted us to have a structure like that. Psquare is just up there because of the grace of God,” he said.
“You know they say change is constant, you can’t stay at one spot, as the industry moves, you move. So I won’t say the problem we have is money. I think everybody is just dragging power unnecessarily. Imagine Jude telling me that he’s in charge of Psquare and there’s nothing Peter and Paul can do about it, and I look at Paul he’s quiet about it.”
“I’ve never seen where a manager talks to his artistes anyhow. If there’s any issue you should call us aside quietly to talk about it…So how do you expect me to be managed by the same person we’ve been having issues with, who is now the manager of the other group. There’ll surely be conflict of interest.”
Now, away from the strained manager-singer relationship!
Unknown to many, the quest for self-actualisation – other than the collective good of the group – had crept its way into the twin singers’ camp long before anyone could notice. And when one adds the conflict resulting from the solo deals Paul and Peter nailed on individual terms to the list, one may be right to conclude that a dream which started as a pastime in Mulumba Secondary School in Jos was now on the fringes of a precipice.
I bet you, I had to read and reread where Peter defended his solo Olympic deal. One will be deluded to imagine that Jude and Paul’s silence meant approval for Peter, as he seems to think.
‘Before I did the Olympic deal, I’ve brought some deals for Psquare but the people endorsing Psquare only see Peter and Paul, but behind it’s Peter, Paul and Jude so the price goes so high that it never works’.
‘But when a deal comes to my table, it’s not like they called Jude and I went behind to talk to them, the deal came directly to me from Jude’s friend. He called me and told me about it, and before then I had already established my own beverage factory and the deal coming was from PZ, which means I could do more business with them, so should I lose that deal because they didn’t call Jude?’
‘And I asked them that why me and not Psquare, they said they couldn’t afford Psquare and more so the brand was tailored to fit one person. So I went back to tell Paul and Jude and they didn’t say anything, they didn’t ask me not to do it.
And while both parties have gone ahead with plans to float their individual record empires, one would only sympathise with their late mother who must have been turning and turning like the widening gyre in her grave.
If anything, this break-up will show the world whether Peter was just a dancer that contributes less to a group that has thrived for the past 15 years. More importantly, it will show the resilience of the identical twins to weather the storm of a solo music career.
The world is watching.
By Gilbert Alasa.