Peter Okoye is in a good place.
When we arrive, he’s sitting in a living room, with a young assistant keeping him company. He’s wearing a black face cap, ink patterned T-shirt, and a pair of dark blue jeans.
‘I’m okay man. Long long time’.
We hugged, tapped each other’s back, as I chose the seat next to him.
The last time I spent time with Peter Okoye, or indeed any member of Psquare was 8 years ago, before my ‘Spoilt Superstars’ article that truncated any relationship we thought we had.
When I last visited the Okoyes, they had just moved into their Omole home, in Lagos. We had breakfast and talked about everything – fromPsquare to PMAN and properties. Peter took me round the massive building, showing off a well-equipped studio, gym facilities and impressive decoration. They would later leave this house, for an even bigger mansion, nicknamed Square Ville, also in Omole-Lagos.
The Okoye brothers rose rapidly, from squatting with Howie T, a music promoter, in his Ilupeju family home, to living in a modest bungalow also in Ilupeju, before joining the big league and the millionaires club.
When we met on Thursday, it was in a Lekki court, where Peter andPaul, now married with children, live in separate buildings with their families. Peter tells me they’re moving any time from now, possibly to Parkview estate, in Ikoyi where, as it’s already public knowledge, they’ve been building their most exorbitant houses yet.
From the days of getting rejected by record labels, to having Howie T set up Timbuktu records because no one would sign them; to the days of Get Squared and Busy Body and Do Me, Psquare has demonstrated how it’s possible to come from nothing to something. Leaving Jos asMichael Jackson wannabe dancers, to Lagos where they found favour on a Benson & Hedges competition, life has been very good to them. And, 15 years after, it doesn’t appear their light is about to dim. Fans are still in love with the music; corporate Nigeria still wants the brand.
But something is wrong.
Peter and Paul, who live just a building apart, rarely set eyes on one another. They’re no longer the inseparable duo, the showbiz twins everyone loves to love. They have not performed together since December 28, 2015. They have only seen a couple of times since then, in rather hostile circumstances, as Peter tells Nigerian Entertainment Today. After years of managing family issues and working to solve differences, they’re now dishing out dirty details on social media, using their very own hands to drag a brand they had built for nearly two decades in the mire.
This is not the first time bands will disintegrate. There’s been Sir Shina Adewale. There’s been, in recent times, The Remedies, Plantashun Boiz, STYL Plus, and, if one is to consider them a band, Mo’Hits. The world remains in shock, about what has become of the union of D’Banjand Don Jazzy, the Mo’Hits leaders who, before our very eyes, tore down everything that held them together.
Also read on NET – WORLD EXCLUSIVE: ‘How Don Jazzy betrayed me’ – D’banj
If D’banj and Don Jazzy’s break up is understandable, seeing they were merely close friends and business partners, the fall of Psquare, following the apparently irreconcilable spat between Peter on the one had, and Jude plus Paul, on the other, would appear to be fiction.
But it’s real. Fighting back tears, Peter, who’s the first to go public with what had been a private issue for years, tells us Psquare fans must understand that this is the end of the band, as they know it.
‘The truth is’, he says, as his daughter Aliona comes in, seeking help to fix her toy, ‘the fans should be happy that we were able to drop the ‘Double Trouble’ album in 2014. What’s happening now should have happened then.
‘The issue was the fact that I was in Psquare and it felt like I was in fear. If I don’t do this, Psquare will break-up, if I don’t do that, Psquare will scatter.’
Four years ago, I told Jude that he needs to step down as our manager, because I didn’t want to disrespect him as a brother, but this is business, we have to structure it. And Jude said to me that there’s a way I’ll talk to him, and he’ll slap me. So I kept quiet’.
‘So, a few hours after, Paul came to me and said if I want Jude to step down it’s not a problem, but it’ll mean that he (Paul) will go solo. The the first time word got out about Psquare breaking up, a lot of people called us, senators, governors, and people like that. In fact three of us were once in a private jet to go and see someone who wanted to resolve our issues and we didn’t speak to each other all through the flight. At the end of the day, I swallowed my pride for peace to reign and allowed Jude to remain as our manager’.
Aliona is back again with her toy. Peter checks and sees it’s in need of a battery, so he sends her to a domestic staff. He’s careful to not lose his train of thought. He’s struggling to fight back tears.
‘I and Paul stay together in this estate and the last time I saw him was about a week ago.’
But you live in the same premises. Why is this so?
‘Truth is, I’ve not been in talking terms with Paul since December 2015 and that was why I travelled in January because I had a lot on my mind.
Something happened at Mavin Studios last year that broke my heart.
‘So I told Paul that when next he does collabo alone, he should be in the video alone, because it got a point where artistes began to feel if they do a collabo with Paul it gets a video but if it’s me it doesn’t get a video.
The last collabo we did was with Flavour and I refused to do another one. Even Flavour had to speak all the Igbo he knows to convince me before I agreed to do it. Only for my brother to come and tell me that ‘shey I thought you said you won’t appear in any video that I did the collabo alone? Why did you appear on this one?’. I was sad but I knew another one will come’.
‘So Tiwa Savage called me, apparently Paul had gone to do a song with her, not the campaign song they are promoting now, another Psquare collabo entirely. So she called me that she’s been trying to reach Paul to get the CD of the song from him that he’s already done his part, so I went to Paul’s house to help ask for it and tell him that I want to go to their studio to do my verse and he said he doesn’t know where the CD is’.
‘I went to the Mavin studio to meet Tiwa, when I got there, she asked for the CD and I told her Paul didn’t give me any CD, so I called him again and gave the phone to Tiwa and told her on phone that the CD is at Omole, so I got into the studio recorded my verse and when I finished, everybody was clapping. I was surprised only to realize that Paul had gone to tell them that I don’t sing or write songs’.
‘I felt really bad and betrayed, but I covered up for him. I jokingly asked Teebillz if they gave him Red Label and he said yes, so I was like you guys caused it, and we laughed over it. So when my assistant went to pick up the CD, Paul and Jude started shouting at him to tell Peter that what is he doing at the Mavin studio? He knows how we work. The next day, I went to Paul and told him how I felt when I heard what he said. Only for Jude to say that he made Paul the lead singer of Psquare 8 years ago! A leader leads, he doesn’t destroy.’
Those close to the Okoyes say their elder brother Jude is central to the band’s problems. Howie T, their first manager admitted as much in an exclusive interview with THENETNG’s Dayo Showemimo early this week. But industry watchers insist Jude was the reason the group became profitable and premium in the first place. Psquare are known to bill more than anyone else. When other A-listers were comfortable with N3-5M, they moved up to N6.5m. When artistes were happy to go overseas for peanuts and the promise of promo, they insisted on up to $120K. They turned down major shows if the price was wrong. It soon became an industry standard – if you wanted Psquare, you had to put big bucks on the table. When Globacom, a Nigerian telecommunication company, signed an endorsement deal with them six years ago, the total fees went up to N240m. No Nigerian artiste has in recent times, matched Psquare in billing. Very few can hold a candle to them when the subject is live performance.
Also read NET Exclusive: Psquare yet to lose Globacom deal
But Peter says in spite of all these, Psquare had zero structure.
‘When it comes to decision-making, it has always been a Triangle formation, and the highest vote wins. I never used to complain because we were all okay, but what has changed now is the fact that we’ve grown. You can make a certain decision based on how we used to do it and it may affect everyone as an individual, but it gets to a point when the decisions taken never gets to be my own and I began to wonder if anything is wrong’.
‘I always get Ideas, most of Psquare ideas come from me, and when I say Idea, I mean materials we need to put out for people to see, video, stage performances and all. But when I come up with them, nobody wants to accept it. I didn’t complain because people still love what we do, but then again, there wasn’t much competition in the industry back then’.
‘As time goes, we should get better, it shouldn’t be same triangle deciding, because if we continue that same way, we’ll lose it. All I want is a proper structure in the sense that, we need to have proper management, business managers and all’.
‘As I speak to you right now, we don’t have any office, no structure. When this issue started about five years ago, our lawyer told us the way we run our business is wrong without a structure’.
‘I’ll give you an instance’.
‘We had to go perform somewhere once, and because I had a slight argument with Paul, he said he’s not going. The show was the wedding of the President’s daughter, because some times when we perform for some certain people, they always talk to me, they don’t call Jude’.
‘I didn’t even know until we got to the airport and at the end of the day we missed the reception, but we finally performed at the gala night, because when I got to the airport my brother wasn’t there, and I became confused on how I was going to explain to the President that we can’t perform?
‘So I made up my mind to go with the band, perform like that and lie that my brother was sick. So we left for Abuja and when we got to the hotel dressing up my assistant manager called that he was on the way to the airport with Paul, so we had to wait for them to land in Abuja and that was why we couldn’t make it on time to the reception’.
‘The president was mad. In fact Mama Peace (Patience Jonathan) was really mad. But we eventually made up for it with a performance at the Gala night.
Only for Jude to say Paul said he wasn’t going for a show and I still went on it with’.
‘Imagine if Jude had a proper structure and we had contracts? That wouldn’t happen. And it was more because the show came through me. If the show came through Jude it wouldn’t have happened. I don’t have a problem with doing things as a family, but then the structure and proper organization is important too. The name Psquare is very big outside but inside we have no structure, I see people like Audu of Chocolate City, Mavin Records, even Ubi Franklin and I wanted us to have a structure like that. Psquare is just up there because of the grace of God.’
You’ve said a lot about Jude being the problem, and how you’re the minority. But, really, as Peter, what do you bring to the table?
‘It’s really sad that people have labeled me ‘Dancer’, and people don’t really know what I do for Psquare. Kudos to Paul, I’m not a good songwriter, in-fact I’ll rate myself 30%, so when it comes to song writing, I give it to Paul 100%.
‘However, not writing songs does not disqualify you from being a musician. I can tell you for free that a Nigerian wrote two of the songs on Rihanna’s new album. I’ve travelled a lot and most times people ask, ‘which one are you, the singer or the dancer’? And it’s really sad’.
‘In Psquare, I am the creative person, I can sit-down and tell you what people want to hear, what they want to see and what they want to learn from Psquare. But it’s not something to brag about’.
‘Jude directs all our videos’.
‘This whole thing began when Paul went online and started post lyrics of most of our songs on Instagram that he wrote them all, just because Peter brought in something to the table’.
‘I’ve been trying to bring more business for Psquare I didn’t know it was going to cause problems. I sent my manager to a meeting in Senegal to meet with Universal music about getting us deals, and when he came back, the way they responded to him wasn’t encouraging’.
‘So I had to send Diouf, the footballer to help get the documents and convince my brothers before we could pull through with the deal. And after some months, we started making money. Meanwhile, while filling the forms, Jude filled everything as Psquare. So the first money came, we shared it. The second money was bigger, it came and we shared it too. That was when Paul said we had to re-fill the form and give proper credit to the songwriter (Himself) and if the form is not brought back, he’s going to expose me and tell the world that he writes all the songs’.
‘And the next day he went online to post those lyrics. So my question is, when he was doing that what did Jude do about it? Absolutely nothing!’
PAUL IS WEAK
‘I remember I once told Paul something, when Jude was using the term ‘Our Money’ when he just became our manager, that was when we made our first 1 million. I called Paul and told him that our former manager used to make about 15%, now that Jude is our manager, let’s think of a percentage that we’ll be giving him and put it on paper’.
‘Paul was like, it’s not necessary. Probably, he went to tell Jude about it.
I’m sorry to say this, but I think Paul is weak’.
‘You know they say change is constant, you can’t stay at one spot, as the industry moves, you move. So I won’t say the problem we have is money. I think everybody is just dragging power unnecessarily. Imagine Jude telling me that he’s in charge of Psquare and there’s nothing Peter and Paul can do about it, and I look at Paul he’s quiet about it’.
‘I’ve never seen where a manager talks to his artistes anyhow. If there’s any issue you should call us aside quietly to talk about it’.
WHY I CALLED OUT JUDE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
‘First of all, if I as an artiste tells you to step down, and you say Paul and I cannot do anything, then there’s no other way I can take you out than going public’.
‘On December 14, 2015 we sat down to have a meeting hoping to be able to set a proper structure in place, but Paul noticed that it wasn’t working the way he wanted, so he said he wants to tell us that he’s starting a new group.
I thought he meant he wanted to start a record label, and he was like no, he’s starting a new group that he belongs to. And Jude simply said, ‘anybody stop you’? He picked up his phones and walked out of the meeting. I felt it had already been discussed behind me’.
‘I later found out that Paul is already recruiting the group and Jude is their manager. At the moment I heard they are called ‘The MVPs’ I don’t know what it means yet’.
‘So how do you expect me to be managed by the same person we’ve been having issues with, who is now the manager of the other group. There’ll surely be conflict of interest’.
‘And it actually happened two weeks ago’.
‘Jude called me, after I had said he’s fired. He called me on a Thursday to say ‘Hope you know we are going to the embassy tomorrow for that show in Holland’. I know about the show, it was already booked before the issues started, so I told him, ‘Bro you are not my manager, talk to my manager’. He said, ‘Noted’. And the next day, they went to the embassy with the new group members, which means they had already set up their interview at the embassy because it’s not possible to get an appointment in less than 24 hours’.
‘So I traced the organisers, and told them that Jude does not represent us, he represents only Paul. I told them this is what it takes to get Peter and Paul, Peter alone or Paul alone’.
‘So I went on social media to protect our careers, because if I didn’t do it, Psquare will not release any materials anytime soon, they’ll be busy promoting their artistes’.
‘And I remember going to talk to Paul about it before I went on social media, I went to his house he was in his room with his friend, and I was like can he excuse us, I want to talk to you and Paul said, no, his friend should stay, anything I want to say should be said in front of him. So I said, no, you know we are brothers and he was like, ‘oh, na now you know say we be brothers’.
So I said, I came to talk to him about what’s been happening, but it was turning into an argument so I left and I travelled out. I was away for over a month, knowing that we didn’t have any show at that time. I went to Turkey, London to rest my mind, my friend Samuel Eto’oinvited me to come’.
HOW I FIRED JUDE
‘The day I fired Jude was at a concert. It was the day I came back, we had a show, so I went straight to the venue in Lagos and told Jude I want to talk to him, and he said I should say anything I want to say in front of everyone. I was like that was the same attitude Paul gave me before I travelled’.
‘So Jude was like if I like I should get out, and I was like guy don’t embarrass me. He said who are you, because you think you are Psquare? So I told him openly that if he cannot resolve me and Paul’s issue, he doesn’t deserve to be our manager, and he said I should get out. There and then I told him ‘You are fired’! He looked at me and said, ‘You fit fire me’?’.
‘That was when I entered my car and started Tweeting. How else can you take him out?’
‘Long before I made up my mind, Paul already said there’s no more Psquare, If Jude leaves he goes with him’.
‘And before I announced my management, I wanted my mind to be clear, so I went back to Paul, this time we were alone and we spoke a lot, I told him I had no issues with him, but he needs to stop letting Jude use him as a shield. Both of us started shedding tears, and when we finished he still said he hopes I’m not here to tell him that I still want Psquare and I told him I want to move on, because he already has a manager (Jude) and I don’t, so I had to structure myself too’.
‘And I didn’t want to allow the Psquare name to fade before moving on. Look at Don Jazzy and Dbanj, when they broke up, they waited for like 6 months and had to start again. Now, that Psquare just broke up, let me use the name to move on quickly, because there’s no time’.
IF OUR MUM WAS STILL ALIVE
‘To be honest with you, I feel if our mum was still alive, we would have pushed her to her grave with this whole thing. It’s really sad that even with everything going on, I still stand with Paul’.
SIGNING SOLO DEALS
‘It still boils down to the fact that Psquare was not structured. Music is like football, Messi has his manager, Neymar has his manager, Suarez has his manager, but when they get to the pitch, they play as a team’.
‘Before I did the Olympic deal, I’ve brought some deals for Psquare but the people endorsing Psquare only see Peter and Paul, but behind it’s Peter, Paul and Jude so the price goes so high that it never works’.
‘But when a deal comes to my table, it’s not like they called Jude and I went behind to talk to them, the deal came directly to me from Jude’s friend. He called me and told me about it, and before then I had already established my own beverage factory and the deal coming was from PZ, which means I could do more business with them, so should I lose that deal because they didn’t call Jude?’
‘And I asked them that why me and not Psquare, they said they couldn’t afford Psquare and more so the brand was tailored to fit one person. So I went back to tell Paul and Jude and they didn’t say anything, they didn’t ask me not to do it.
Don’t get it wrong, we’ve been doing different private businesses, the only difference was that the Olympic deal had to come out public. I’ve been doing mass housing projects on my own, Paul has been doing real estate, Jude has been doing his own thing, he even went to do Northside record label, so it’s not like it’s the first thing I’m doing alone. It’s just the first one that went public’.
‘So even when I decide to open my beverage factory, people will still say why am I doing it alone without my brother’.
IT’S NOT A PUBLICITY STUNT
‘I hear lot of people think it’s all a stunt, and that’s what I really want to put an end to. It’s not a stunt at all. It has been going on for a while’.
‘When Jude didn’t come to my wedding, people started saying we broke up and then others said it’s a stunt, then when Paul posted those lyrics stuff on Instagram people thought it was a stunt too, but the truth is that, this is not and has never been a publicity stunt’.
‘I am telling you the truth, I am moving on because people are already getting tired of this Psquare brouhaha, now I have my manager Olatunde Michaels and I expect everybody to respect that. I am a family man, a musician, singer and dancer, if I don’t move on, Psquare will collapse and there’ll be nothing left’.
‘Already Paul has done two songs without me but no one is saying anything, he did a song with his artiste ‘Muno’ with his name as Rudeboy did they feature me? He did a song with Tiwa Savage, did they feature me?’
‘Last week Yemi Alade sent me her album track list to help her share on Instagram, guess what I saw, she had a song with Psquare that I didn’t even know about. Only Paul did it’.
THE NEXT LEVEL
‘Because I announced a new management, people feel am the one going solo, but Paul has already gone solo, he’s moved on and didn’t need to announce any new management because he still works with Jude, so I had to announce mine and believe it or not, people are booking me for gigs already’.
‘And guess what, I’ll still perform Psquare songs, nobody can stop me, nobody can stop Paul too, we didn’t have a contract with Jude, so I have the right to perform Psquare songs especially the ones I took part in’.
‘I’ll also consider releasing solo songs and even albums. Truth is – in the last album Paul did some songs alone, I did some songs alone. ‘Bring It On’ was Paul alone, ‘Eje Ajo’, ‘Shekini’ was done by me alone’.
‘Remember the 4 songs ‘Free For Fans’ that we released, those songs were removed from the last album and I leaked them’.
‘I have some songwriters already, V-Tek writes for me, and I’m still bringing up more’.
Social media posts, today, by Peter and Paul, might suggest they’re trying to resolve their issues, with the possibility of putting the fracas behind. In fact Psquare is being advertised for an upcoming performance. But, as Peter told NET on Thursday, it’s now beyond music and management. They’re not likely to live together in the Parkview property, which is nearing completion; and they’ve since shared their other properties (We sighted a copy of the contract, showing Festus Keyamo as their lawyer).
‘Because of what was happening, it was like two against one, so I said let’s share our properties. When I said that, Paul said if we want to share our properties, Jude must get the same share with us otherwise Psquare will split and I was like ‘SPLIT-AGAIN?’
‘Our lawyer came and told Paul that it’s wrong to share it equally with Jude, but he insisted, so we divided every property we owned in Lagos, Jos, America, Abuja. In-fact the right and left wing of the Square Ville mansion belongs to Paul and Jude now.
So that was how we shared all our properties equally among the three of us about two or three years ago’.
‘After sharing everything, I called Paul again and spoke to him about a proper structure. We’ve been with people like Akon and co and we see how it’s done. Right now, Psquare has millions of dollars in royalties hanging in the air’.
‘All our endorsement and shows are shared equally between the three of us as well’.
‘After what it took to share our properties, I was embarking on a project, so I needed more money and I wanted to sell my house in America and buy something smaller, because I spend close to $30,000 to maintain that condo every year’.
‘So I called my caretaker to begin the process and she told Jude and Paul to send their data page and passport photographs, but they refused because they know I wanted to the sell the house. And see the value of dollars now. The house was valued at 100M then, but if I sell it now, I could make extra 250M’.
‘And we already signed paper works and document of the house that it belongs to me but Jude ignored it, so I called our lawyer, Festus Keyamo to inform him about the development. He called them and they both refused to pick his call, so he sent them a text and requested that we should have a meeting, but Jude replied him and said no need for a meeting that the America house will be sold’.
‘Paul said we agreed and signed on how to share but we haven’t really shared it yet, after all Jude is still holding on to the documents’.
‘Three of us have properties close to each other in Parkview and that’s why I want to sell my own and move to Banana Island’.
‘I can’t really understand why they don’t want a structure, to me I think it’s ignorance, and if I decide to do it, it’ll seem like I’m looking for trouble’.
Jude, who dissociated himself from Psquare in a social media post on Thursday, hours after our interview with Peter, declined commenting for this story. He told our correspondent ‘I’m sorry I can’t talk about it’
MY WIFE AND MY MUM