Producer and social commentator Charles Novia has reacted to reggae singer Majek Fashek's accusation of fraud against him and Azuka Jebose.
Entertainment Today – The culprit that kick-started the latest online frenzy was innocuously titled ‘Majek Fashek: Why My Pictures are All over the U.S.’ – an interview published in the online platform of ThisDay.
And the portion of interest is quoted below:
‘Question: What is your grouse with Charles Novia and Azuka Jabose?
Majek: I want Nigerians to please help me stop Charles Novia and Azuka Jabose from defrauding me. A lot has been happening, which I am giving a little tip. I have never had contract with Charles Novia.
He put me in trouble with my American boss, even the Little Patience Album; I did not receive a penny from it. The song was recorded by Coral Music, Los Angeles.
And I am still having problems with them because I try to help him use the song to boost him for the Nigerian audience to help his November Records. Because of his scam that November Records is down, I have never had managing or recording contract with him. He should present our contract to Nigerians, he owes Coral Music.
That’s why I had big problem with Coral Music. Azuka is full of scandal. I have never had contract with them and they have no right to negotiate my business; they have been using me for too long.
I also need Timi Dakolo to present the management he paid to and how much by going to use my song and earning money from iTunes and making money from Send down the rain.
Azuka, a cab driver in America, whom I gave support – they are friends. I am not joking because my solicitor will contact him soon and we will make it public.’
Both restrained and disgusted, Charles used his Facebook page to knock the former superstar’s memory overdrive. His words:
‘I read an interview on THISDAY Newspaper online this morning on Majek Fashek and in one of the questions, the reporter asked him if he had problems with Charles Novia and Azuka Jebose and Majek replied that we defrauded him and went on a rant on how he’s being owed by November Records.
‘My first reaction was to ignore it. And there are reasons why I ignore first hand anything negative which comes from Majek about me. I remember a few years ago, when he was under the management of a lady called Hajia or something, Majek went on television, perhaps at her instigation, to say he was suing me for $3 million for shooting a movie on him!
I laughed and laughed when I saw that interview on television and ignored the sensation it caused. Pressmen started calling me for days to find out my reaction. I would always say ‘No comment’.
But there was one journalist who kept on persisting and would keep on calling and calling for my reaction. He said ‘the country respects what you did for Majek in bringing him back to limelight with the ‘Little Patience’ album. It’s shocking that he’s talking about suing you for producing a film on him. Please, let the world know your reaction’.
‘I replied him ‘My friend, what I’m going to say is off the record and I say it to you because we are friends. I am a Bini Man. Majek has Bini blood. He is my elder brother. Fate and divine matrix used me in 2005 to bring him back to the music scene at great expense and risk to my life with his last album.
‘I gave my all to promote that man and that album. My life stopped for years in pushing Majek back to the scene. Do you expect me right now to be exchanging words with him in the papers over a project which he’s aware of?
‘Listen, this brother of mine has issues with his health and my personal code of conduct would never ever make me exchange words with a brother with mental health issues. It’s not proper and it’s not done where I come from, so give me a break please’’
The journalist was touched. He told me later that ‘when I hung up the phone after you made that statement, tears came out from my eyes. You made sense. You are a human being’.
It’s that same notion I still have till today. Majek Fashek is someone I respect and have managed and worked with for years before I moved on. I will be very careful about having verbal exchanges with him or his new management over things he says about me. November Productions publicists would professionally make press statements when the need arises.
However, I will just make something clear on a personal level here.
The 2005 ‘Little Patience’ album, released by my record label, November Records, was licensed to my label after due negotiations with Coral Music USA, owned by Charlie D’Agostino.
November Records paid a tidy sum in dollars for the licensing of that album for the African market. We had a contract signed and the terms of the contract were clearly spelt out.
At the signing, Coral Music made it very clear that on no account should personal royalties (if any, after we discussed the possibility of the album being pirated) be paid to Majek Fashek from November Productions (Records) outside the contract for that album.
The contract had a provision for some cents to be paid to Coral Music after net calculations in the advent that the album sold a calculated amount of numbers.
When November Records released the album in 2005 after spending a huge amount on heavy promotions on the project, the like of which had never been seen before for a long time, the album went to the top of the charts for weeks across the country.
The release of the album got thousands of copies off the shelves in the first week. However, the album was massively pirated back then. Massively.
I made this known to Charlie D’Agostino of Coral Music in a mail and he understood the situation in the correspondences we had, the e-mails I still have.
However, out of my love and respect for Majek, who would call me from America to plead for funds for upkeep, I would send him funds and sometimes get Azuka Jebose to do it because we could not bear to see the man in a financial crisis.
In those conversations, I made it clear to Majek that we had paid huge licensing fees to Coral Music and he would say he never got a dime from them as the American label deducted his expenses from his sales and concerts, which is a standard process in the music business.
Feeling bad that Majek was in a financial quandary in America while we were heavily promoting his album back here, I decided to help him get money in Nigeria by getting major shows for him on the back of the success of the album.
I got him into the first Thisday Music Festival in 2006. I had to plead with Mr Nduka Obaigbena, who was at first reluctant to feature him but on my pleading and insistence and with the guarantee of Dede Mabiaku, agreed and Majek was paid personally $7,000 for that gig with other expenses of traveling and accommodation taken care of.
I arranged for his band here, led by his friend and gentleman, Pst Amos Mcroy and paid all expenses. I wanted Majek to shine and succeed. I put in so much into that show. I personally handed Majek’s money to him as soon as he got to Lagos. $7,000. Azuka was his US Road Manager and came with him as well.
When we got to the venue of the Thisday Festival, Majek had somehow gotten himself inebriated and his frail appearance and nervous behaviour made Nduka call me aside to tell me ‘Charles, I know you have tried for this guy but he’s not going on stage. I can’t allow him go on stage. We will pay you guys the full performance fee nonetheless but he’s not going on stage’!
I knew if Majek didn’t climb on that stage that day, the press would have conjured a meaning to it so I pleaded with Nduka to at least allow Majek 10 minutes on stage. Nduka agreed and Majek had his 10 minutes.
After that event, I got Majek another gig at the 2006 Calabar Carnival in December. He flew back in with Azuka and we all traveled to Calabar for the gig where he performed at the stadium in front of a crowd and an impressed Governor Donald Duke. Indeed, his fee for that gig was not less than the $7,000 he got for the Thisday gig.
Thereafter, more offers for more shows started coming. Because of the fragility of Majek back then and his frail and dishevelled looks, the agreement was that he would only breeze in and breeze out for shows with minimal exposure to the press and public.
But in 2008 or thereabouts, Majek unannounced flew into Lagos and decided not to go back anymore. I wasn’t aware of his coming, neither was Azuka. And there was nothing I could do. He had his plans and wanted to do his thing. All the years of PR and image making for him, done to build him back as a major brand, went up in smoke.
It wasn’t long before people and press men started calling me about seeing Majek on the streets and in bars, begging for food and stuff. Somehow, I had become intricately linked with Majek and his personal indiscretions were affecting my corporate and personal brand.
I took in all in my stride but officially severed professional links with Majek Fashek a few months later.
I have gone to this length to narrate some portions of this tale to give a background of my professional and personal relationship with Majek through the years.
He’s still my brother and late 2015 when he was in rehabilitation in Abuja, I saw him at the Abuja airport after we were on the same flight from Lagos and he kept telling everyone that ‘this is the man who did the magic in my career. He brought out ‘Little Patience’ and put me on billboards’.
I offered to sponsor any music video from his new work for free with no strings attached. ‘Just to help your work. I don’t want anything. It will be my contribution,’ I told him. He was excited about it. That offer still stands. Anytime he is ready, all he has to do is to get across to me and the music video directors I have pencilled down for the project will take care of it.
It’s amusing to now read from him that he was defrauded by November Records. Like I said, he’s on a path to recovery from his mental health issues and perhaps he has short memories. It’s the way of the world.
Be that as it may, he’s still my elder brother.
But I have moved on.
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