Could you recall one of your greatest embarrassments while on stage?
I don’t really see anything as an embarrassment because I am an entertainer. But there was this show, Koko concert which I organized long time ago. I was performing on stage, and suddenly, my trouser got torn. As it happened, I bent down to conceal it but I was pretending to be dancing. Don Jazzy, noticing it, came to block me while I disappeared from stage. However, it wasn’t embarrassing for me because the audience did not notice it.
What’s your new “Koko” Agropreneur initiative all about?
I am 34 years, this year. And this year also happens to be my 10 years as entertainers. My first single was released in October, 2004. This year, marks my 10th year as an entertainer.
When I look back, I feel humbled by what God has done in my life in such a short time. That’s why I have decided to give back to society. This is not the first time; anybody would embark on a charity project. Last year, I decided that I was going to do something differently.
Me and the Head, of my Business Development, Mr. Tony travelled to South Africa where an organisation approached us to work with us. Initially, I was not interested in the project, but after listening to their presentations, and how the organisation has been working to eradicate poverty in Africa, I immediately developed interested in the project.
When they told me the role they wanted me to play; that’s to champion the cause of the campaign in 2014, following the African Union’s declaration of 2014, as the year of Agriculture.
This is because the mass of land that we have acquired as Africans and, going by the world’s projection, we would depend on Agriculture to feed about 70 per cent of the population. They also told me that in 2013, at the African Union summit, all the African leaders signed an agreement, which stated that each country would commit at least 10 percent of its annual budget on Agriculture. And today, you can see that there is a concerted effort to encourage Nigerians to go back to the land.
Today, everyone wants to become a musician because of the success that has been recorded in the industry. And that’s why the African Union decided to embark on this project.
Even though, I wasn’t interested initially, my Business Development manager prevailed on me to consider the importance of being part of the project to unlock the wealth that is hidden in our natural resources. So, we kicked off the project, and they took me to Ghana’s Coco plantation which is about three and half hours from the main town.
Later, I was introduced to the small scale farmers who I would say are responsible for producing about 60 percent of our food. In January, I was at the African Union summit, where I signed as the first African youth, the exercise that would concentrate on Agriculture, because if we don’t feed ourselves in the next five years, we end up depending on foreign assistance.
But if we all go back to the land, we will be able to feed the rest of the world. That’s how the project started and that’s why I am partnering Heritage Bank to make the dream come true. Ten years ago, the music industry like Agriculture was nothing to write home about.
When I told my parents in 2002, that I wanted to become a musician, they objected to it. I relayed my experience in my first album; how my International Passport was seized by my parents. But 10 years down the line, I am still standing tall in my chosen profession. Then, they said music was a hobby, but today, music has become a serious business. We can use the same passion to go into agriculture because, while growing up, agriculture to me was perceived as a demeaning job. But the richest man in Africa today is a farmer.
Dangote is into agriculture. So, I decided to practice what I preach. I have been doing some researches with my team on the social media, and we discovered that there are so many youths across Africa, especially in Nigeria that want to venture into agriculture. I met with the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adeshina, who told me that he likes what I am doing, insisting that he wants me to do a song that would promote the project.
According to the Minister, the budget for agriculture has been increased by 1.2 percent. He also disclosed that the federal government has set up a programme that the youths can benefit from. I was privileged to listen to the Minister as he asked me whether I would like to be the ambassador of the Nagropreneur initiative called Nigeria Agricultural Entrepreneur. The project is geared towards empowering about 750,000 youths in Nigeria that are interested in going into agriculture. I want to kick off the project by showing example. I believe that by flagging off the project, I’m not only giving back to the society, but I’m also empowering the youths.
This is my own little contribution to the development of the nation. As a result, I said on my birthday, I will give out N50 million to boost the agricultural sector of our economy. The essence of this, is to encourage the youths to embrace agriculture. My new initiative is aimed, on the one hand, at providing practical leadership and encouragement to the massive youth population to embrace the agriculture revolution being championed by the Minister of Agriculture, as part of the national socio-economic transformation agenda