We get death threats over Headies — Ayo Animashaun

of Hip TV and executive producer of The Headies Award, Ayo Animashaun,
speaks about the controversies trailing the recently-held Headies Awards

What is the secret behind your staying power in the Nigerian entertainment industry?
I would attribute it to hardwork,
dedication and we thank God for giving us the grace to be successful. We
have been able to produce a lot of content that captures the essence of
the entertainment industry, more than any channel.
Prior to setting up the station, you must have had some set targets. Have they been met?
The initial target was met within six
months but we always have to set new targets and standards. What people
see today is not the entire representation of what we intend to achieve.
It requires more funding and programming but new trends will unfold as
time goes on.
How do you stay abreast of trends in your industry?
I have a team of young and vibrant
individuals who do a lot of research and business development. They also
engage with our audience in order to find out what they want and move
towards that direction.
What age group does your channel cater to?
Our primary target are youth between the
ages of 16 and 24. That is the core target while the other target
audience are people who are young at heart and also enjoy music.
Some artistes complain of
being fleeced by television channels in a bid to air their music videos.
Is your brand also guilty of this trend?
We do not ask for any form of
gratification to play music videos. It is boldly written on our
reception wall. If any member of staff requests for such, the person
would be fired and I personally wrote down my phone number alongside the
notice. That is one of the reasons we are loved and we have zero
tolerance for such.
Some people are of the opinion that most Nigerian entertainment awards lack credibility.
It is obtainable everywhere, even
abroad. There are always opinions, especially when nominees do not win.
These artistes make an impact, so we would not be where we are today if
it was not credible. That is not to say that every single person on the
streets would support our idea. Some people would still go against it no
matter how transparent it is, how well it is organised and how well you
try to convince them.
Are you worried that the recent controversy may have marred the reputation you have built in 10 years?
I am not worried and there is nothing to
worry about. I could if it was my meal ticket but it is not. Although
we have had sponsors, but in the past five or six years, we have
organised the Headies Awards singlehandedly, and this requires a lot of
financial commitment. Artistes always disagree with awards. Some were
vocal while others were not. This is not the first time something like
this is happening. The screening team put in a lot of work.
What system was adopted for the voting process?
There was an online voting system which
collects the phone numbers and email of voters and the votes are
automatically counted. That way, you would see who won and who did not.
It is devoid of any form of rigging because you cannot vote more than
once in one hour. There are different voting categories and some are
strictly left for the judges to decide. It is easy to discover if anyone
voted or not. Two years ago, we stopped the SMS voting because our SMS
partner complained that people came to them to lobby for votes. We did
not want our credibility to become an issue. Artistes should learn to
check the year under review and understand the definition of each
category. People should always vote, or else another artiste will win
over the one they like.
Were the awards lobbied for?
People try to lobby and it is not just
right to mention names. Some have even offered to buy the cars. We
bought three out of the eight cars that have been given out. We started
giving out cars when the category became big and we did not want to
stop. Revelation of the Year is supposed to be bigger than Next Rated
but people attach more importance to it because it comes with a price
and Nigerians like freebies. With all sense of humility and
responsibility, the artistes cannot pay us and we cannot collect money
from them. It is not in our character and we are not greedy. The award
plaque is a 21-karat gold plaque and it is mounted on marble. We want to
genuinely support the system.
Some people are of the opinion that some of the winning were undeserved.
If you do not vote, the win would be
undeserved. It is the same thing as a political election. No one has the
right to complain if they did not vote. The voting was poor this year.
Most people took the voting for granted and did not vote, so how can
they decide who should win and who should not? They should find out if
the winners did anything other than just turning up for the awards. At
least, someone would be angry enough to say we collected some money from
him or her. We deserve some respect if that has not happened in 10
years, why should it occur at this time? We had an average of 500
nominees and over 109 winners.
Some also believe the results were influenced
I would feel offended if i’m ever asked
whether we collected money from any artiste. I am like a father to them
and I try not to meddle or prefer any artiste over the other. We did not
influence the results submitted by the screening team and we also did
not reveal the identities of all members of the jury. People have gone
to the extent of threatening lives if their artistes do not win. I have
reported some of them to the police too.
Fans believe Olamide should apologise to you. Has he?
Olamide is like a son to me. What he did
was to the Headies and not to me but he has apologised to me
personally. He knows the right thing to do because The Headies is a
platform that has celebrated a lot of artistes including him. He and Don
Jazzy apologised to me the next day. As the executive producer of the
award, I do not act unilaterally, I have a board and we have a
disciplinary team and very soon, they will come up with a statement on
how to handle the whole issue. We would make it public.
Having enjoyed dominance for 10 years, do you think other award platforms should also spring up?
Of course they should. It is better to
have more awards. You do not enjoy that kind of dominance when you spend
your money all the time. Sometimes, I think I am crazy for still
continuing every year, even without sponsorship. People go into business
to make money; maybe others are smarter for not doing it. We do what we
do because we have a passion for it.
How do you feel about P-Square boycotting the award?
You cannot have all the artistes in the
country around every year. Just a few days before it held, we postponed
the awards to two days and no one was given a prior notice. I cannot
mandate artistes that were nominated to cancel their previous shows to
be present at Headies. If they were billed to perform at another event,
they would not return their payment because of Headies so as not to be
sued. They performed last year at the Headies last year and they closed
the show. I also saw Paul a day after the awards were held and we are
How do you spend you relax?
I usually take a break after the award
every year but I have not been able to do that for a couple of reasons. I
usually travel alone or with my wife to a quiet place. This is not the
time to go on long holidays, we still have a lot of opportunities to
harness in Nigeria.
How would you describe your style?
I do not wear suits except I am
compelled to wear it to a meeting. I prefer causal wear and I like good
designers who place a premium on quality.

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