Exclusive: Moji Olaiya’s death and matters arising

By Muyiwa Olayinka

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Moji Olaiya

Recovering from the shock of two prominent Yoruba actors, Olumide Bakare and Pastor Ajidara, Yoruba Nollywood on Thursday, May 17, 2017, received another shock over the death of one of theirs, Moji Olaiya.

Moji, daughter of Nigeria’s high life music legend, Victor Olaiya, was confirmed dead barely two months after welcoming her second child in Canada. It was gathered that days after the delivery of her new baby, she fell ill and was asked to remain at the hospital, where she later died. The popular actress died of cardiac arrest in Canada.

She died just a few months after she officially divorced her first husband to remarry another one.

Moji’s first marriage crashed in 2008, and the Yoruba actress decided to remarry last year at a quiet ceremony in Nigeria.

Moji had a daughter Adunola (20) before she got married  to her first husband. She did not have a child for the first husband before the relationship crashed.

It is so sad that the thespian died as a result of complications arising from having her second child. More saddening is the fact that the two months old baby will grow up without enjoying the affection of her mother.

Moji became a household name and became more popular with Wale Adenuga’s production Super Story in the 90’s. Before her death, she featured in several Nollywood movies of Yoruba and English genres.

Olaiya was raised by her father, a veteran jazz singer, Victor Olaiya. She was said to have adopted the name Olaiya to honour the musician who raised her since she was young. She was a less controversial woman keeping her private life from the prying eyes of the public.

Unfortunately, she died in a foreign land, Canada, this presented another problem to the mourning family. Adunola her first daughter, rejected the idea of her mother being buried in Canada due to financial constraints. It was reported that it will cost the family $15,000 to bring her corpse home for proper burial.

Moji Olaiya hailed from Ijesa Isu Ekiti in Ekiti state.

It was on this premise that one Olukayode Salako, who is said to be the husband of another popular actress Foluke Daramola and founder, Coordinator of Change Agents of Nigeria Network (CANN), claimed he wrote the Ekiti government to assist in the movement of the corpse back to Nigeria to give her a  befitting burial.

It became a political issue between Governor Ayo Fayose and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, because Mr Salako said the Ekiti state government refused to assist when approached and it was Asiwaju Bola Tinubu that came to the rescue of the family in providing the needed fund.

According to national encomium newspaper, an insider revealed that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu released $30,000 (N11.4 million) towards the ferrying of the corpse of Moji Olaiya from Canada to Nigeria, and to cater for other expenses.

The national leader of All Progressives Congress donated the sum on Monday, May 22, 2017, when he met with family members of the star actress, her daughter and burial committee members.

Asiwaju Tinubu is the grand patron of Theatre Arts and Movie Practitioners Association of Nigeria, (TAMPAN).

Secretary of TAMPAN, Yomi Fabiyi confirmed Tinubu’s assistance.

We must commend Asiwaju Tinubu for helping the family in this trying moment. We must desist from making it a political  issue between Governor Fayose and Asiwaju Tinubu. The most important thing is that someone has forwarded the needed funds to bring back the remains of Moji to her fatherland.

The family does not need this distraction, they should be allowed to mourn and bury their daughter peacefully.

This is not the first time Asiwaju is providing succour to our stars. He rehabilitated the late Fatai Rolling dollars. Fatai Rolling dollars was a high life musician in the 60s.

Moji Olaiya was a good ambassador of Nigeria, just like other worthy stars that are making the country proud. They should be treated like jewels and stars they are called.

Unfortunately, Nigeria do not appreciate her good  ambassadors. Many are abandoned and forgotten heroes when they are faced with challenges of lives. Many lived in total oblivion, abject poverty, dejected and frustrated when they are longer making waves

Sadly, it is common these days to read about many of them  not being able to meet their responsibilities. They have become yester day’s stars.

Many have been afflicted with terminal illnesses that would have been better managed but were left to rot and die untimely in hospitals due to inability to finance their medical bills. They have been reduced to beggarly lots, soliciting for help on pages of newspaper and from charity organisations.

From OJB Jezreel to Prince James Uche, Enebeli Elebuwa, Adesina Adesiyan with a stage name “Pastor Ajidara” and Olumide Bakare, to mention a few were afflicted with sicknesses ranging from kidney, diabetes and respiratory problems. These are ordinary  sicknesses that could be better managed if funds are available.

My panacea

It is imperative that our stars must start planning for their future. It is a fact of life that in showbiz, you cannot dominate the scene forever.

American superstar, Michael Jackson was a legend. He dominated the world’s music industry like a colossus in the 70s through the 90s. His popularity transcended beyond his homeland, USA, He shone all over the world.

But in the late 90s, his popularity waned. He incurred debts both  personal and commercial. He struggled with his music career all to no avail. He had many scandals and  court cases that drained him financially.

An effort was made by a top notch music management outfit to re launched his career. 50 shows tagged “This is it” were organised for him across  European and American cities. Weighed down by great expectations and the fear of failure made him to be hooked on drug named “propofol” administered by his personal doctor that led to his sudden death.

 Unfortunately, he became richer in death than when he was alive through his intellectual property. His musical albums were sold out the moment he died. His monster album, “the  Thriller” was completely bought off the shelf after his transition. He made money from royalties paid for his works, his memorabilia sold like hot cakes. For example, the jacket he worn for the thriller video was sold for $1.8 million.

The money realised were used to  offset some of his debts, even enough to take care of his children and estate.

I have to use Michael Jackson as a narrative to drive home my point. If Jackson could go broke, how much more of Nigerian stars.

It is even worse in Nigeria for an artiste to be rewarded from his intellectual property because of non existence of structures.

The film and music industries are not well structured to allow our stars to reap from their intellectual rights. Privacy has creamed off their sweats and labour.

Olusegun Adeniyi who recently wrote a book titled “Against a run of play” complained his database for the book was hacked and his books were being sold illegally.

Nigerian stars have complained tirelessly to the authorities to fight piracy but the synergy with the law enforcement agencies have not worked.

In the light of this, the music and the film industry should find a way to guarantee their intellectual properties. Many of Nigerian music are played on radio jingles, Televisions commercials, social events, free of charge without adequate royalties being paid. Their films and CDs are being sold illegally on the streets of Nigerian cities.

Broadcasting organisations in Nigeria (BON) in conjunction with Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) agreed to remit royalties for musical works and sound recordings of artistes broadcast by their stations.

Have BON and COSON been living up to their responsibilities?

Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (also known as Performing Musicians Employers’ Association Of Nigeria) has the responsibility to guide, protect and promote the interests of musicians in Nigeria.

PMAN have been engulfed in leadership crisis for a long time. It is not in a position to re organise itself talk less of fulfilling its statutory responsibilies.

It’s also the same leadership crisis that bedevilles the Actors Guild of Nigeria.

These practitioners in the film and music industry must come together to resolve the leadership crisis so that the their interests will be well served.

Nigeria stars should also invest wisely. They should save for the future.  They should not spend all their earnings on frivolous expenses such as acquisition of private jets, golds, jewelleries, bling bling, expensive and luxurious cars.

In Europe, Bono, the legendary Irish lead singer of U2 has been backing Elevation Partners, a private-equity firm that specializes in funding tech companies, since 2004. Elevation has shoveled money to Facebook raking millions of dollars.

Justin Timbalake is another artist who has turned his attention to Silicon Valley, he joined Specific Media owner-brothers Tim and Chris Vanderhook in their $35 million investment into the once-mighty MySpace.

Nigerian music sensation, D’banj has made some investments in viable businesses. He had been seen hobnobbing with Bono and others to widen his business interests. He’s been travelling all over the world to meet international  investors

Furthermore, practitioners should take insurance policies for life or health, to care of themselves in hours of needs.

The death and the difficulty experienced in bringing back the remains of Moji Olaiya from Canada, should be an eye opener to all.

This disgraceful and beggarly attitude must stop!

It does not project the positive image of Nigeria.

I commiserate with the entire family of Moji Olaiya and other families that have lost their loved ones. May God give them the fortitudes to bear their losses.

May Moji Olaiya’s soul rest in perfect peace.

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