Renowned gospel artiste, Evangelist Funmi Aragbaye, recently emerged the new president of the Gospel Musician Association of Nigeria (GOMAN). In this interview with SEYI SOKOYA, she speaks on her mission and the task ahead. Excerpts:
How do you feel about your recent emergence as the president of the Gospel Musician Association of Nigeria (GOMAN)?
I feel extremely great. This has been a divine call God gave me since 1990 when I released an album entitled ‘Divine Call.’ I want to thank God that this came to a reality in our own time. However, I don’t have to celebrate much because there is nothing to rejoice over. It is a task that calls for serious work. I want to assure every member of the association that this is the beginning of new things in the association. I am not boasting; they will all see the result of their votes for the new executives in Jesus’ name. As an association, we all have to work hard. It will not be a administration of dictators; we will all come together to lift up the association. Immediately I decided to run for the post after much pressure, I started getting advice from the elders in the industry and also made consultations, having known that the GOMAN task is not an easy one. The association is not financially buoyant, which is a bad development, but I trust God that He will use the prominent men in this country to provide for us. I have the full cooperation of the new executives and the association as a whole. I would call myself a master planner, so anyone who wants to work with me must be ready to work to achieve good results. Most importantly, I want to state clearly that all contestants will be part of this race; for me there is no victor or loser. We will all work together and I am sure that God will help us.
Why did you say that there is nothing to rejoice about taking up the mantle of the leadership of GOMAN?
What prompted me to say this is the current state of the association. As I said earlier, the association is in a very bad financial situation. I ought to be glad about my new status in the association, that is if I want of flaunt myself, but that is needless because God has given me the grace already. I have gained my popularity already and I am the only artiste a popular cable station used her music videos for three consecutive years.
It is believed that the association is facing a lot of challenges, especially in the area of acceptability. How do you intend to correct this?
This is one of the reasons I said that we must start big. It is true there are a lot of challenges facing the association; acceptability and wide recognition are our major problems. The name GOMAN is strange to many people out there; not until it is fully stated as the Gospel Musicians Association of Nigeria before some can be able to connect. When I started my music in the 80s, it was all about releasing a good album and initiating a press review where media stations will be invited to listen and promote the album, but the story has changed. These days, musicians move from one media station to the other to promote their music. It is time we publicised GOMAN and that is where we are starting from.
How would you give the association a facelift?
There are a lot of things in the pipeline. I am here to redefine the association and I am ready to carry the cross with the support of all and sundry. After the inauguration, we will organise an awards programme. Also, whether quarterly or annually, we want to arrange auditions for members. There are some musicians who have good materials but are faced with the challenge of funds or how to go about releasing their albums. We will raise funds to support this initiative in order to help gospel musicians in this category. The association will be ready to assist good and viable works. It is clear that there are two categories of people in this association and they are the known and yet-to-be-known artistes, so, we will encourage known artistes to support the aspiring artistes. This boils down to the fact that everybody must be fully prepared because we also need to spread by penetrating into the South-South and South-East. It is time we made things happen that will transform GOMAN for the better. The affairs of GOMAN is not about Funmi Aragbaye but to put the ideas of every stakeholder and advice from the elders into action, to move the association forward.
Implementation has been a major challenge regarding the plans of many associations. How would you ensure all you have mentioned are implemented within the three-year tenure, especially in the area of artistes being compensated?
I am trusting God to help us achieve great and positive results during our time. I know it will not be all fanfare, because we are poised to turn things around for the better. On the area of compensation of artistes, we will intensify our efforts and put pressure on the government to do something about it. We are all aware about the challenges all musicians and artistes are facing in the country. Piracy is also a major problem; lack of good marketers, promoters and distributors is also part of the challenges. The problems are enormous, but we will start from somewhere and I believe that God will help us.
Now that you are the president, where will you be based?
Of course, I will still be based in Ibadan since GOMAN has no secretariat that might make me to relocate to Lagos. I will be operating between Lagos and Ibadan because I also have a residence in Lagos. By the grace of God, I pray that the association has its own secretariat. That is part of our plans and I know God will see us through. On the inauguration, a committee will be set up and very soon, a date will be fixed. As a retired principal, I will bring in my civil service experience because it is important that we plan well to achieve great things.
Would you probe the immediate past administration for not declaring the financial report of the association during the 2016 national election?
We are going to ask questions and request that the report be submitted. I don’t want to use the word probe because I don’t think there is anything to probe. Nevertheless, for the purpose of accountability and transparency, they should render an account even if is zero account; we need to have the details.
How do you intend to project the image of the association internationally?
Part of my goal is to raise the standard of the association especially on production and lyrics. I have an award programme in Canada and London in a few weeks’ time and since I am elected as the new president. I will not hesitate to do whatever I feel will be beneficial for GOMAN internationally. I will also use my contacts and experience for the association. It is a matter of God using me for GOMAN and I don’t need anything from the association. They came to me that I should come and use my connection for the association.