‘Pretty Okafor was never PMAN president’
By Josephine Chidebe
As the battle rocking PMAN rages, ex president of the platform, Tee Mak Omatsola Iseli has declared that contrary to allegations of PMAN factional president, Pretty Okafor, he has been vindicated. In this chat with TSWeekend, the Flutist also talks about growing up, music, upcoming PMAN elections and how to move the music industry forward among other issues.
Tell us about your early years?
Tee Mac is a Nigerian. I was born to an Itsekiri mum and a Swiss father who was the Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria. I left Nigeria at age three after my father was assassinated. I got my entire education in Music and Economics in Switzerland; my Swiss family stood by us after dad passed on.
You held your first flute at age eight. What was the story of that flute and how did your journey into music begin?
At age five I was taken to a classical concert in Zurich and was absolutely fascinated by the philharmonic orchestra and immediately identified with the flute. It was like a voice was calling me ‘Tee Mak you have played this instrument in a previous life.’ At age seven I got as a Christmas present, my first classical flute ever and started lessons immediately with a lovely lady in Zurich. I studied for about 12 years flute, voice and philharmonic composition.
So how did you start writing music?
I hear music constantly in my head. I started to write music at the age of eight. Now I sit in front of my computer with the Sibelius software and write for philharmonic orchestras. I have written for films and have many unpublished concertos and symphonies on hard discs. I have performed and recorded some of my classical works. I love Jazz and light entertainment and write for my band all my music too.
How has your music evolved?
In the 70s I wrote mostly commercial music, disco and Afro pop. My first band was Tee Mac United and in Nigeria it was Tee Mac and the Afro Collection. My most successful band was a disco band christened Silver Convention. Today it is known as Tee Mac’s Gold Convention. The older I became the more my music grew and I am proud to say that maybe, I could be the only philharmonic composer in Nigeria. I write on a level more appreciated outside Nigeria. I must say that I have very loyal followers in Nigeria. Mostly the older generation who grew up with me and my music.
How challenging was your presidency at PMAN?
I took up this very difficult and time consuming assignment because I was one of the original founders. I took up tax at source for foreign musicians and work permit requirements for foreign artistes. We were working on an arts village in Badagry when the Dele Abiodun faction started their problem and we had to put everything on hold. When Dele Abiodun was arrested and charged to court I decided to step down and joined a bit later the Interim Government as Chairman to prepare for a new elections; it was a very challenging job.
What is your take on Pretty Okafor’s leadership?
Pretty Okafor was never a PMAN president so he has never held a post at PMAN.
Mr Pretty Okafor came into office some time ago through a consent judgement which set aside the previous government. What led to Pretty Okafor being sacked by the Federal High Court?
Pretty Okafor and his consort manipulated one of my old court cases and was declared Interim Caretaker Chairman (not President). We went to the same court and got the judgment set aside. He is not part of the Caretaker Committee inaugurated by the Hon Minister of Labour. Investigations into Pretty Okafor’s status has shown that he was never a PMAN registered member.
According to Pretty Okafor, he dragged you to the police over accusations of selling PMAN land in Abuja. Was this true or was this an attempt to tarnish your image?
As PMAN President I got the land back with an Offer of Statutory Right of Occupancy. We never had the actual Certificate of Occupancy because no fees were paid by PMAN in the past. It is absolutely impossible to sell land when you do not have a Certificate of Occupancy. Pretty Okafor and Kenny George invented the story trying to smear my image because I got an arrest warrant against Pretty Okafor.
Was there a misunderstanding between Tee Mac and Pretty Okafor before the accusation?
I had never met Pretty Okafor before Kenny George and Dr Zimakoy sold Okafor the dummy of PMAN Presidency. Dr. Zimakoy left Pretty Okafor’s team and also took him to the Police for fraud. He gave us very vital information as Pretty Okafor’s Treasurer on how much was collected and how it was spent.
How has the leadership crisis affected the organisation?
We have splinter groups all over from PDP to APC. It is everywhere Nigerians are because of different opinions and ideas. PMAN is on the right track now and I shall support any legally elected new PMAN President as an elder of the Union
What lead to the change of constitution after the 2016 Committee Conference?
To join the world body FIM ( International Federation of Musician Unions) we were asked to remove ‘Employers’ from our name and make it Performing Musician Association of Nigeria. Also, the constitution was a bit outdated.
After the 2016 conference it was agreed that the tenure of PMAN National Executive shall be four years as against the current two years. What led to this?
Two years was considered not enough for a president to get all the programs and projects executed, also elections are very expensive.
Are you happy being part of the committee despite the allegations?
Nobody believed in the allegations and I got a legal research done by the Federal Capital Territory Administration which declared on the 25th of February, 2016, that the land is intact and was never borrowed against or sold because the land belongs to PMAN.
Do you think PMAN has achieved the objective it was set up for?
Of course not, PMAN has a long way to go and when all musicians come together peacefully to move the union forward, we will be strong and powerful. There is power in unity and PMAN is the largest black musicians’ union in the world.
So what is new about PMAN?
After the elections we will issue a communiqué with the way forward and our programs. I believe that PMAN and the Entertainment Foundation of Nigeria of which I am the current Chairman have a big role to play in the development of our entertainment industry. We can actually add to the GDP of Nigeria. We are already together with Nollywood.