Ayo Animashaun Speaks On Headies & Its Recent Controversy

Executive producer of The Headies Awards and founder of Hip
Tv, Ayo Animashaun has finally spoken on the recent brouhaha which occurred at
the just concluded Headies. According to Ayo, it is not new and it is sometimes
expected at an award ceremony such as his. Ayo says Nigerians like freebies and
because The Next Rated Category comes with a car it is expected for it to be
more controversial. He however said Olamide and Don Jazzy who are his industry
sons have since called him to apologise about their conduct at the ceremony. He
also explained further what it takes to host an award ceremony and keep it
running for 10 years, the challenges, the threats and why the award must continue.

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
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
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 fine.
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

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