The Chronicles of Chill: Gambrach’s Other Room

room-door

Brethren and Sisthren, chill had long departed the kingdom. Nobody was hammering anymore as their hammers had been covered with recessionary latex and turned into mallets and the ceteris was no longer paribus in the econominix of the environment.

 

Everyday, Oshinoshin, the Hand of King Gambrach, would come into the village square to pronounce to the Kingdom all the great machinations of the mind of the King. Each day, when the wailing was at its ebb, he would tell the people, Your King will build this, the King’s council will do that, we are planning to do this. Yet nothing was done. Wherefore the people christened him Comer Comer Comer Comer Comer Comelion, for he used to come and go, with his dreams all red, gold and green.

 

And then one night, as the people put aside their wailing to prepare for sleep, the Deliverance Squadron Squad, imbued with the precarious spirit of Egbami, swooped on the abodes of the highest judges in the land. Behold, they lifted up their heads against ye gates and broke down their previously everlasting doors and laid siege to their dwelling places.

 

The people were alarmed because the Deliverance Squad Squadron were a secret militia, whose primary purpose was to prevent insurgency and treason in the land. Also, as the purported reason for the swooping was the alleged enrichment of the judges of themselves, by themselves, in the most egregious manner, the Everly Failing at Convictions Commission was by law the appropriate organ of the King’s forces, and many were disturbed at the deployment of the formerly secret Deliverance Squad Squadron. This was more so, especially as Mr. Magoo, the nearsighted leader of the Everly Commission had long since complained about the judges not ruling in favour of the Commission.

 

But the Lovengers were pleased. “Oh the fragrant scent of Gambrachian justice!” they proclaimed. “See ye the announcement by the Deliverance Squad of all the coin that they have delivered from the houses of the judges! Surely this is evidence of their perfidy!”

 

“Why choosest thou to be fickle and unremembering of the many so-called deliverances of the Deliverance Squad? The 90 billion shekels of Daisy Annie? The 50 million Barrackistani shekels in the farm of Mar-Ku, predecessor of Lar-Yi in the office of councillor for propaganda…seest thou these deliverances in truth and verity?”

 

And the Deliverance Squad decided to call their deliverance swoop a sting. And lo, was it the bluntest sting in the history of stings, and was not at all like a sting causing but a mere swelling on the arm, but more a collision of chariots that breaketh the arms and legs of a victim.

 

But lo, in spite of the copious amounts of coin, both foreign and local, which the deliverance squad proclaimed that it had delivered, no charge was proffered against the judges. Wherefore it was proclaimed across the land, “Oh DeSS, where is thy victory? Where, oh DeSS thy sting? The sting of DeSS is sin and the power of sin is the lawyer.”

 

The people blamed Gambrach for the misadvaneture of the Deliverance Squad. And behold, while the people wailed and complained, wondering what manner of affliction made its kings across different quadrania act unbecomingly, word came from Roo Ben, head scribe of King Gejoshaphat. “Brethren”, said Roo Ben, “tis true what thou thinkest about life at Bedrock. Our kings wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual hosts in subterranean places. Seest thou not say una leaders no too dey get sense again when they enter Bedrock? Seest thou not the death of the wife of King Shegolas, the death of King Yardy, the afflictions of Lady PeiPei which cleareth once Gejoshaphat was no more king? Ye must pray to the gods, old and new. In fact, scratch that. Ye must break down this Bedrock and build a new one.”

 

And the spirit of Wawu traversed the land yet again. For people were amazed that a man of science and logic, such as Roo Ben, could foray into the metaphysical. But yea, were they also filled with concern. “How then copest Gambrach and Yeeshah?” the people asked. “Is the Many Years Disease of Gambrach an affliction of the subterranean? Is Lady Yeeshah in soundness of body and mind and in good cheer?”

 

Almost as if Lady Yeeshah heard their enquiries, Lady Yeeshah spoke in the public square of the burden of her heart. “Remember ye when Gambrach declaraed that he woulds be a fakest guy if he appointeth not his ride or die homies? I, his wife of one Mandelanic period, remember. I, his wife of one Mandelanic period am therefore aghast that of the two score and ten men that surroundeth Gambrach, Gambrach knoweth but ten of them. As a wife of one Mandelanic period, I wouldest know his ride or dies and behold, the host that encamp around our dwellings are not known to me.”

 

“Wawu”, said the moderator of her discussion. “Sayest thou that Gambrach be not in control of the kingdom.”

 

“Thou seest him, so thou knowest the answer.” replied Lady Yeeshah. And in the spirit of the great bard of the Kingdom, Felanimus Kutinski, it finisheth not, it finisheth not, it finishesth not, it finishesth not, it finishesth not, it finishesth not, it finishesth not, for she continued.

 

“As for me, I have purposed in my heart not to stand by his side should he seek a renewal of his reign in the next quadranium. Neither shall I ask the women of the kingdom to stand for him in electoralis. For I am quite bigly pissed off.”

 

Myyyyyyy gheeeeeuuuurrrrrd!!! This was unprecedented in the entire scrolls of the chronicles of the kingdom, for the wife of the King to speak so brazenly against him in the open. And the people wondered what the response of Gambrach would be, for they remembered that he used to be a man of Gunn.

 

Fortunately for them, Gambrach was on his way out of the Kingdom again, on his way to Allegmania, the Kingdom of Queen Mer Kell, who Gambrach called Queen Me Shell, perhaps due to his affliction of Many Years Disease. It was fortunate for the people of the Kingdom, because of his outspokenness – his speaking only when he was out of the Kingdom (this is recycled joke of chronicler, so funny).

 

And when Gambrach arrived in Allegmania, after stepping out of his flying chariot in a manner that brought tears to the eyes of the Lovengers, and inspecting the Allegmanian troops of honour in a manner which filled the Lovengers with gratitude and the sense of being fortunate to have him as president, Gambrach stood in the chamber of Queen Mer. Together, they addressed the men and women of Paparazzia and Blogg.

 

Behold, did the people of Paparazzia enquire of Gambrach, “Oh great king Gambrach, hearest thou the words of thy wife? Everybody clappy hand for you, she don’t clappy hand for you no more. Like, Latiffus Kayodensis, she taketh away her support from thee and Apicuria. This be-eth an almighty ela! Wilst thou take it?”

 

And Gambrach replied, “I knoweth not if my wife belongeth to Padipalia or Apicuria. I know, however, that she belongeth in my kitchen. And that she belongeth in my living room. And…” he said as a mischievous grin played across his face, “…that she belongeth in my other room. You know what I’m saying fellas! My other room! You know what I’m saying, right? Look, my eye winketh. Thou gettest my meaning, surely.”

 

“Your Highness, but thou art an old man…” said one man of papyrussian blog.

 

“I have many years’ disease, fam. Not that I’ve been alive for so many years. When the lovengers were telling me to fire on and go harder, I’m sure you thought it was only with regard to my quest against graft, shebi? Jon Snows, all of you.”

 

But the King had said this in the presence of his host Queen Mer, a lady herself. It was a scandal, for Gambrach had suggested to the global world, in era of the incumbent and impending Queens of Barrackistan and the Queen of Allegmania, that the place of the woman was in the kitchen, the living room and the, uhm, “other” room. And brethren, the goddam chill was gone and only a figment of the people’s memory.

 

And Gar Bar, the Chief Scribe to Gambrach emerged. “Oh people. Why lackest ye a sense of humour. We who encamp around Gambrach know that he is a barrel of laughter. Remember not that he readeth only the comics and pastiches in the daily papyrus? How I wouldst that ye would chill and get ye it not twisted; for Gambrach unleasheth a banter on thee.”

 

And myyyyyyy gheeeeeeeurd! There was not a speculum of gaddem chill in the whole entire kingdom.

The Chronicles of Chill: A Dog has no Name

sad-dog-funny-dog

From time of electoralis and the ascension of Gambrach to the throne, the Kingdom had suffered violence. Usually, the violent would have taken it by force, but the violent were hungry, for there was a pestilence upon the land. There was unchill and it was a-brewing and a-stewing.

 

The people waited to hear a word from King Gambrach but nary a word proceeded from the Palace. Wherefore, the people began to call Gambrach the most outspoken King they had ever had, for he only spoke when he was out of the Kingdom, in foreign lands. Hehehe.

 

And in that time, amidst the fomenting discomfort in the land,  a man named Joe-Hakeem had a falling out with his neighbour. His neighbour came from the north of the Kingdom and his father, like the King was also called Gambrach. Gambrach, it was said, was a very common name. So common, in fact that Lady Yeeshah, wife of Gambrach, was declared not to be the Yeeshah, wife of Gambrach that was wanted in Barrackistan; it was a different Yeeshah with a husband named Gambrach.

 

Lo, in their falling out did Joe-Hakeem decide to rechristen his dog Gambrach. The dog was an adult dog, and it was not certain that the dog was aware of its new moniker. But behold, did the neighbour raise alarm, that Joe-Hakeem had named his dog after the King and lo, did chill depart from their community. Gambrach the dog, formerly known as Doggy the dog, was killed. And yea, the head of the constabulary arrested him and charged him with blasphemy of the royal name, a hitherto unknown offence in the Kingdom. And the people were amazed, for others had named their dogs after Kings in the past quadrannia, with no consequence.

 

“He is apprehended and incarcerated by the constabulary at the behest of Gambrach! He must be!” the people cried.

 

But Gar-Bar, the King’s chief scribe, heard the accusation and rose quickly in defence of his master. “Friends, Twilistians, Countrymen, lend me your ears. If only thou wouldst know the true nature of your king! Your king suffereth from Many Years Disease and heareth not your common talk. Behold, he heareth thee not for many years, and so couldst not have instigated the constabulary.”

 

The people yinmued, for they had grown weary of Gar-Bar’s persistent beatification of Gambrach.

 

“Besides,” Gar-Bar continued, “when he assembleth the spies of the kingdom, that they mayest inform him of the goings-on, he listeneth first NOT to cries of your travails, nor the words of wisdom from the apostles of marketology! No! He listeneth first to the jesters, the fools and the parodists, that he mayest laugh upon the reports of how the kingdom pastiches him! Is he not a great and benevolent king?”

 

The people were not amused and lost further chill, for Gar-Bar had revealed the mind of Gambrach to them, and their cries and travails were not of prime importance. The mother of all unchills would indeed have swept through the land, were it not for the visit of a very august visitor.

 

Far, far away in Barrackistan, there was the high priest of the Book of Faces, dedicated to the god of the Book of Faces, from his time as a youth in the citadel of VardHarla, in the kingdom of Barrackistan. His name was Marcus von Zuck, and Marcus von Zuck chose this time to come to the kingdom.

 

High Priest Marcus was very wealthy, and throughout the four corners of the earth, were men, women and children who worshiped at the temple of the Book of Faces. And he came to bless his followers and give them succour.

 

In the Palace, Councillor Shittinksi looked for his whitest glove, in anticipation of audience with High Priest Marcus, for the followers of Marcus fell under the authority of his prefecture. But Marcus was allergic to bullshit and so avoideth and shunneth him.

 

And there was chill, as the followers showed their High Priest the fullness of the land and besought him to send even more andelic minstrels into the land.

 

But Marcus departed, and a proclamation went forth from Kal El, the Counting Master of the kingdom, announcing what many already knew in their hearts. The Counting Master and his counting crew had counted, and had beheld that the rent was too damn high, and that the land was in a recession.

 

And the people looked to Gambrach in vain, to see if he could see them beyond the parody; if he could hear them beyond his unlooking. Behold, a voice came, as if from the palace. The voice sounded, as if it were the voice of Lady Kem Shun, of Sarf Londinia, who was Gambrach’s councillor of the purse.

 

“Behold, fam! I know tings is wicked bruv, you get me? And this is desperate times of oppression, innit? But that is why we finna cut down the shopping sprees and ting! And just in case youse don’t believe me blad, here’s my two most peng warriors – Time and Patience. I am sending them out to you, so you can know that recession is just a word, mate. Boom, selecta!!!”

 

Brethren, say it with me – the people heard her words, and there was no gaddem chill, no modicum of decorum, no iota resembling it, in the entire gaddem land!

 

Booyakasha!

The Chronicles of Chill: The Epistle of FeiFei Van Der Putin

Letter

In the 16th month of the reign of King Gambrach, the word of Woo Doo, Gambrach’s councillor for farming went out to the people. “Behold!” he proclaimed, “and let they that mix manure for farmers take heed, that it is high treason to mix manure and ship to other kingdoms for profit, when the farmers in our kingdom have no manure. Let it be known that any such manure mixer found to be doing this shall be banished from the kingdom.”

 

On hearing the proclamation had to do with manure, councillor Shittinksi Bulltshittu thought perhaps he might be of help. But Woo Doo had enough incompetence of his own to deliver the message and did not need to borrow additional incompetence from any of his co-councillors.

 

The people in the kingdom shrugged, for many looked to suffer banishment away from the preils and travails of the kingdom. But for FeiFei van der Putin, Ondonesian minister on exile in Jandinia, it was one derelict proclamation too many from the council of Gambrach.

 

FeiFei van der Putin was a marketinian apostle, writing several epistles to the people of the Kingdom, and counsel for Gambrach, on how they might find chill. Lo, his epistles found great readership in the land. FeiFei van der Putin had spoken very highly of Gambrach during electoralis federalis, and together with his fellow apostle KinYe, led the Twilistianly renowned Why Nations Fail Ministries.

 

FeiFei van der Putin was the High Sparrow of the gospel of marketology in Social Mediana and had increasingly grown vocal in his sermons against Mefilius and his management of the coin and Gambrach and his reign. However, the proclamation of Woo Doo proved far too much for him to bear and in a holy fury, he picked up his parchment and quill and wrote another epistle to the brethren in Twilistia.

 

“Brethren, in as much as I was a voice in the wilderness proclaiming that the Kingdom of Gambrach was at hand, and to the unlikely extent that I was able to sway you to elect Gambrach in electoralis, I tender my deep apology.”

 

And the spirit of Wawu swept across the land, as many did not believe own eyes of Twilistians. For electoralis had wreaked a chasm in Twilistia, and the support of many like the Why Nations Fail Ministries had led to the rise of the Lovengers. And after the spirit of Wawu had settled and departed, behold, there was a stirring and a rumbling among the people and all chill departed the land.

 

“Why apologiseth thee? Gejoshaphat was never in the reckoning. Yea, even if Gambrach were to obliterate the Kingdom from the face of the earth, verily I would stand with him in the void. Behold, I would cast for Gambrach again and again, even if he killeth my mother and father.”

 

“Why apologiseth thee for the manner in which thy vote was cast? Surely, if thou, the Lovengers and all who who cast their vote wouldst apologise, surely it would be for the manner in which thou spake and speakest even yet unto they who wouldst not cast with thee.”

 

“FeiFei van der Putin speakest the truth. For Gambrach disappointeth us sorely.”

 

“Why wouldest thou seek forgiveness, FeiFei van der Putin? Curses on them that would deny us the blessing of basking in the glorious sunlight of the reign of Gambrach.”

 

And the voices of unchill rumbled and rumbled until the sound carried into Gambrach’s palace. And lo, twas his valets and footmen for Social Mediana that first responded to the people. They said, “Get thee it not twisted, this shit is bants. We shall give thee megaphones to amplify thine unchill.”

 

And it came to pass that finally the news was carried into the sacred chambers of Gambrach by Osinoshin.

 

“O Gambrach, great and mighty King. First of your name. Neuterer of technocrats. Arbiter of density for the floatation of the coin. Behold I come with news from Twilistia and Social Mediana.”

 

“Ah. Osinjo.”

 

“Osinoshin, your Highness.”

 

“Ah, yes. Please pardon me. It’s the Many Years Disease again.”

 

“Your Highness, there are rumblings in the land. The Lovengers, the eaters of the grain of the feast of Queen Yeeshah and even FeiFei van der Putin; they all turn against you and forsake their defence of your reign of omnigoodness.”

 

“Hmm. Hmm. … Hmm. So when next shall we be in Europotamia?”

 

“In 7 weeks’ time, your Highness. But the cry of the people, good king.. ”

 

“… Oh, good. There existeth an abundance of time before I shall be required to give thought to their complaints. Tell Mefilius that it is my command for him to independently decide that only the couriers of Westania Iounonium may remit foeign coin to our land henceforth.”

 

“Your Highness, great and mighty king, I beseech thee that thou mayest reconsider, we frighten the holders of foreign coin away. Behold, they wouldst not even give audience to Mefilius on his last sojourn.”

 

“Ah. Osinjo. I hearest thee no more. It appeareth my Many Years Disease affliction is upon me again. Come back next week.”

 

And outside the palace and throughout Twilistia, the rumbling continued, and there was no gaddem chill in the land.

 

The Nigerian Music Industry: Random Thoughts

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks for the entertainment industry here in Lagos, on the legal side of things. Injunctions were sought (and allegedly flouted), some arrests were made (a label was following the money) and some deals were re-done. Some thoughts on the goings-on and more –

 

  1. It’s a business, not a charity

One of the viewpoints to first make the rounds on social media was that labels ‘in the abroad’ aren’t as hardnosed as Nigerian ones. They, allegedly, invest millions in the artist and if the artist doesn’t make it, everyone just parts ways.

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It’s a slightly outside way of looking at things. Yes, it’s a risk the labels are taking and if they’re not happy at the end of your contract, everyone parts ways happily (see, for example Skales and his former label, EME). However, no “abroadian” artist is going to simply up and try to jump ship. You either run out your contract, try to get the label to release you, or ask the court to tear the contract up. It’s a very naïve or poorly advised artist that declares a unilateral end to a contract that hasn’t yet expired.

 

  1. Contracts are almost unbreakable. But bring the tear of a dragon & a unicorn’s horn & we’ll see…

Contracts are the lifeblood of commerce. If people were able to make commitments to others and fail to honour them without any consequences, business/trade would be in tatters. For this reason, all over the [free] world, Courts are very reluctant to end or amend contracts that have been freely entered into.

 

However, courts have in the past released musicians from their labels, where they were convinced that the recording contract, or the circumstances of the relationship between the parties, prevented the musician from making a living (restraint of trade). Typically, this is where the label has refused to honour music release/publication commitments or has made the terms for doing so too tasking for the artist. Courts might also be minded to declare a contract invalid if the artist can show undue influence on the part of the label. So, basically, if you can show that you were strong-armed into signing onto the label, or that the label is making it virtually impossible for you to earn any income, you might want to talk to a lawyer about securing your release. Lawsuits can be expensive though, especially for an artist alleging that the label is closing off his/her income…

 

  1. Those Unbelievable Clauses? It’s the economics, St#$@*!

Following the ‘arrest’ and questioning of one artist and his manager, snippets of the artist’s recording contract were released and many commentators were shocked at the terms. The most fantastic of the terms appeared to be the £10m release/buy-out clause (riddle: when is a label like a Premier League club?) and the assignment to the label of the artist’s copyright in compositions that existed prior to his joining the label.

 

The immediate assumption was that the artist signed the contract without seeking legal advice or, in the alternative, that he had a bad lawyer. It’s an assumption that misunderstands the dynamics of the Nigerian music industry, as the thinking behind it is that an artist can get a label to significantly change the terms of its contract.

 

There are indeed a few artists that can get their requests for changes agreed to, but most are either label owners or execs themselves. For artists on the up and come, there is very little leverage that can be applied on the label, so it’s usually a take-it-or-leave-it situation. The artist in question here had just been released by his former label, where he’d only been moderately successful and had this new label promising him a signature bonus, a brand new SUV and a flat in Lekki. How many artists in that situation would listen to the lawyer’s advice not to sign?

I’m speaking from personal experience, having advised an artist on a nearly identical contract (whose template is it, anyway?) sans SUV and flat. The label lawyer rejected virtually all the changes requested, so the artist was advised not to sign. Artist signed anyway.

 

  1. Where’s the money, anyway?

Ask the average Nigerian artist where they expect their money to come from and you’re likely to hear live performances and product endorsements. Maybe caller ringback tunes as well. Virtually no one is interested in record sales. This Nigerian model is predicated on music being given away for free in the expectation that fame (and then the live performances and endorsements) will follow. This model probably only works for the Top 20-30 artists in my estimation and I don’t believe it to be sustainable. In addition, on CRBTs side, the average artist will get only 6-12% of the gross revenue, depending on the network (those that pay, that is; some are notorious for not paying).

 

Globally though, the highest growth area for music revenue is music streaming, with the IFPI 2016 Global Music Report showing that streaming revenues increased globally by 42.5% on 2015’s numbers. Digital sales on the whole have overtaken physical, the figures now standing at 45% and 39%, respectively.

Streaming accounts for nearly half of the global industry’s digital revenues. I might have a slight occupational bias here, but artists as a whole stand to make a lot more if they began to take digital REVENUES (not merely distribution) seriously.

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  1. Which brings us to COSON…

COSON continues to do a great job of informing the public in the various rights that music users should respect. They have also done well, as the sole collecting society authorised by the Nigerian Copyright Commission, in collecting license payments from broadcasters and public venues where music is played and enjoyed (hotels, bars, restaurants, etc.).  However, this is performance rights revenue, which globally accounts for only 14% of the pie. If the aim, as the representatives of COSON frequently say, is to ensure that producers, session musicians, songwriters, etc. also get a slice, there’s the question to be asked whether or not it’s helpful to join the industry in ignoring sales. A few producers have been in the news recently, accusing artists of not having paid for the work – they have no share in the revenue from the artist’s live performances, so what’s the remedy? There’s also the issue of sampling and covering – ordinarily, there should be a minimum statutory fraction of the sales revenue (from the song doing the sampling or covering) that goes to the original composer. In a jurisdiction where sales aren’t paid attention to, and no statutory rates apply, how do the original rightsholders get compensated?

 

I am aware, I should say, that COSON has a digital licensing framework in the works, and I look forward to its publication in the near future.

 

 

The Age of Gambrach: The Seance of Mikhail Jacksonovic

Glove

And so it came to pass that the people of Oyokolova, who ruled its affairs and were courtesans of King Ajimolov, decided to celebrate the ascension of Shittinski into the council of Gambrach. Shittinski had had a woeful time of it from his interrogation at senatii and was depressed of demeanour, for the people had mocked his answers. Thus, did he determine in his heart, to seize the occasion of the festival of his ascension in Oyokolova, to ameliorate his mood.

And on the day of the festival, King Ajimolov was present, and shared the table with Shittinski. Shittinski himself was bedecked in the finest finery he could muster. Robes of coral blue and aquamarine green, ornately complemented with sequinned gloves on each hand. Yea, was his swag complete, for he reminded the people of the late legend of music and dance, Mikhail Jacksonovic, and all thought Shittinski would, before the festival ended, do the walk of the moon and grab his crotch in full glare of the assembly. But it was not to be. Thus the reason for the englovenment of the hands of Shittinski were a mystery.

It was the season of mysteries in the land, as in that time, Dinobetes Mellitus, member of the senatii, brought his brethren a matter of urgency. “Behold, brethren, the sacred abacus of the kingdom has been compromised by those against our progress, these people of Dembitter. How thinkest they, of Dembitter, that they shouldst be possessed of 25 billion of our precious shekels in one day!?!” And there was a rumbling in the land against Dembitter. But it was quickly quelled, for Dembitter had sealed a parchment with the usurers of the land and none of it was illegal. The effect of the insertion by Dinobetes Mellitus of himself into the matter was akin to a sugar-infused hyperactivity.

And in those days, following the successful ascension of King Rotamachus to the council of Gambrach, Momodeen, his griot, let it be known that he had had word from Daisy-Annie. She had granted him audience, and the permission to interrogate her. But Momodeen did not delve into his conversations with Daisy. Nay. Instead, he composed a ditty unto himself, describing the obstacles traversed before he was beholden of Daisy-Annie. He slayed a few dragons, stole the golden fleece, beheaded the kraken, had tea with Percy Jackson and finally, found himself before Daisy-Annie. But Daisy-Annie was changed. She was locked in fierce battle with an affliction but she found strength to refute the allegations that Momodeen brought from the kingdoms to her. For his travails, however, the name of Momodeen was changed, to Momodyssius, for he had fulfilled a quest.

Yet was there still unrest in the land. The people were short of black oil, as that which Gambrach produced from his body for a time had run out. Lo, were the people incapable of locomotion via their chariots and yea could they not power their electric candles. And the Wailers cried out, “Why be there no black oil! This was not what Apicuria promised!” And the Lovengers replied “Wail thou as thou must, it is of no use, for Gejoshaphat is gone forever.”

[…To be continued…]

The Lion, The Itch and The Wardrobe (or Cabinet, Whatever)

Roaring-Lions-Wallpaper-03

And it came to pass that Abushola unlooked his unlooking of the list of the members of Gambrach’s council and in accordance with the laws of the land presented them to senatii for verification, jestyculation and approval. Of the number which the senatii considered for approval, there was old King Fasholam of Gideria, old King Jekfa of Ekitilopia, Ancient of Days Ah-Oudu and fellow Ancient of Days Lah-Yi. They were quick to find favour in the eyes of the senatii and didst verily and expeditiously receive its approval.

Of their number was another man, Shittinski of Oyokolova, a man of the laws of man, as well as the laws of the beyond. Shittinski was particularly shit during his interrogation by the senatii. Whereas, the Kingdom practised a system of secularis, nevertheless Shittinski  proclaimed his inclination, if left to him, to pay clergy to implement moralatio in the Kingdom. And when asked about the pestilence that flieth by day and night in North Easteros, Shittinski declared loudly, “Shit!! Why asketh thou me this question of great fright and trepidation? Know ye not that I wish not to fall under their sword and be eternally cut off from my family whom I love so dearly? Yea, shall I hold my tongue.”

And lo, did the voice of the people of Twilistia rise against Shittinski, and the people of Social Mediana against his councilisation. “Wherefore be this the fruit of Gambrach’s quest of four months? We will not have him!” But the word of FemCallamitus had gone forth before the verificato senatii, proclaiming, “These are the beloved of Gambrach. Doubt ye not their competence, for as verily as the fulness of time is upon us, so say I to thee that these men of the council have all it takes.”

Also of their number was old King Rotamachus of Rivisinia, who had ruled for 2 quadrannia. Like Abushola, he casteth himself on exile from Padipalia and pledged fealty to the house of Apicuria, and deployeth all manner of fortification for Gambrach during electoralis. In his stead in Rivisinia ruled King Wi-Kay of Padipalia. Rotamachus had sought to bring Rivisinia into Apicuria but Wi-Kay contended mightily with him and wrested the kingdom away from his grasp. However, Rotamachus was favoured of the house of Apicuria and Gambrach desired his presence in the council.

The Rivisinian members of the senatii were disenamoured of Rotamachus, for they felt he had betrayed them (which indeed he may have) and, according to the rules of senatii as announced by Dinobetes Melitus, Rotamachus needed the blessing of 2 of the Rivisinian senateens. It looketh not good for him.

Yet, in those days came a voice from the wilderness, declaring the way of Rotamachus. It was the voice of Momodeen, praise singer to the wealthiest people in the Kingdom. Momodeen loved the fineries of the rich and was the chief chronicler of the stupendity of their wealth. Momodeen had himself sought to rule over the Kingdom in quadrannia past but, lo, was his vote for himself his solitary vote cast in his village; wherefore was the song of electoralis written by StarrusSolidus the Bard, “One Man One Vote”.

Rotamachus found such favour in the sight of Momodeen that Momodeen entered the town square in Social Mediana, declaring “All hail Rotamachus, first of his name, Lion of the World, Slayer of the Stone Men, Vanquisher of the foes of Apicuria, Sacrificial lamb of the electoralis passover, good in every goddam way! Lion of lions! With a big, sexy, furry mane to boot!”

And many followed Momodeen, chanting “All hail our beloved, indomitable Lion.” Others cried, “What manner of the kissing of the buttocks is this?” And opinion swang between the 2 camps. Just like a gaddem pendulum.

But Abushola and the senatii unlooked Lion Rotamachus. And they unlooked again. And thrice did they unlook him for verificato. And yet, “I stand by the Lion, even though he devoureth me!” remained the refrain of Momodeen and those who followed him.

And behold, in that time was yet another voice heard in Social Mediana, of the Prophetess Sar, pronouncing the Beatitudes of Coitus.

“Blessed are they who coit not though they be married in tradition but not before the spirit, but wait to coit after marriage in the temple, for they shall inherit paradise.”

Hmmm, thought the Social Medianites. And she continued.

“Blessed are they who when the itch to coit comes upon them, coit and love without the lubrication of lingerie, for this is a fetish and is displeasing to the spirit.”

And behold, did the people of Twilistia begin to gather to hear her sermon on the mount. There was a gentle grumbling, but the people listened on.

“Blessed are they who seek not inspiration to coit from images of others indulging in coitus, for this is a perversion.”

“And blessed are they, who when they itch for coitus do not coit by manner of mouth and genitals, for this is a also perversion in the sight of the spirit. For the mouth is meant only for mastication and not mastu…”

The people of Twilistia could bear it no longer and interjected “Where findeth thou these scriptures?” “And obu gini your consain with how I coit my coit?”

And lo did the rumbling rage and rage and increase in intensity until the Prophetess Sar returned. “Peace, be still yo”, she said, “thou misconstrueth my words. Played thou not ‘Simon Says’ whenst thou wert babes? Knoweth ye not that my words be not my words unless they be ending with ‘Sar Says’? Tut, tut!”

Ahhhh, came the realisation to the Twilistines.

Meanwhile, in this time also, word came from afar of Daisy-Annie. She was ill…

The List of Gerontocrates

Geronto

When Gambrach ascended to the throne of the Kingdom, it was the expectation of the people, in accordance with the custom and law of the land, that he would appoint a Council of State to assist him in the discharge of his duties. Verily, verily, due to the fervency and freneticity of the promises and postulations of the followers of Gambrach in electoralis federalis, the earnest expectation of the Kingdom was that the Councillors would be announced the day after Gambrach was crowned. But it was not so.

Gambrach voyaged to Americanawonda and it was there he bared his mind to the four ends of the earth in his first epistle. “Regard ye the Smaugic desolation of our land and the havoc wreaked as was wreaked by the hands of Padipalia. Consider how much building we must do, and that my name be not Bob. It is manifest to me that those that shall serve in the Council with me must be men of honour. I beseech thee, o ye peoples, that thou wouldst spare me until the end of September to declare my Council.”

“Trentus Septembus have you requested,” responded the people, “and until Trentus Septembus shall we leave you be.” And the first day of October became known as Green Day, because the people agreed to wake Gambrach up when September ended.

In due course, Tword reached the people that Gambrach had ordered proboscis extra magnificat on those he desired to appoint and that to his immense disappointment (which was only exceeded in immensality by his sadness) only 3 were found to be of virtue. Virtue, like its cousin Chill, had long since departed. And yet, heard the people nothing from Gambrach himself, not until he was bequestioned by the 24 of Francinia, upon which he excused the delay with the response, “Trentus Septembus is not yet upon us, and what are Councillors but clanging cymbals, after all is said and done?”

Finally, Green Day’s Eve came, and anxiety descended upon the people for Gambrach was yet unfulfilled of his promise. And Abushola, Wardsen of the Senatii, recently temporarily reprieved of Conductivitis, summoned and dismissed the senatii without any consideration of the Council of Gambrach. And yea, just as the sun was about to set on Green Day’s Eve, did the tword of Abushola go out, “Lend me your ears, oh people, I can confirm that I have received a scroll from Gambrach containing the list of the upright he has chosen to preside with him in his Council. But, for the benefit of the gratuitous high drama we are enacting and as this is the hometown of Nollywoodinia, yea shall I unlook the scroll for 4 days. You know, just because I can.”

And the spirit of speculatio descended upon the people of Social Mediana for Green Day had come but was there yet no Council. But across the padipalian-apicurean divide, there was a kumbayanic expression of hope, for Gambrach had spoken of great change. But very quickly, the time came for Abushola to break the seal upon the parchment and pronounce the names of Gambrach’s Councillors in senatii. Thus was the seal broken and the list read and all over the land there was the loud sound of air escaping from a balloon. Gambrach’s councilors were more a whiff of old socks than a breath of fresh air.

“How takest it 4 months to gather these names?” many asked, bewildered.

Very quickly, the Lovengers assembled and responded. “While this list of councilors is a list of Gerontocrates” they began, “nonetheless, Gambrach is the best list compiler the universe has ever seen, because in spite of it Gejoshaphat was not an option for us.”

And while all this transpired, word came to Twilistia that far away across the oceans in Jandinia, Gejospahat’s councilor for black oil had been apprehended by the kingdom’s soldiers. Her name was Daisy-Annie and she was very fair of face. Many said it was about to become a hard knock life for her…

Cracking Digital Music in Nigeria: The COSON Summit

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are totally personal to me, in my personal capacity as someone who has had a keen professional interest in the development of the copyright administration system in Nigeria for over 10 years.

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The Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) just concluded the hosting of a summit on digital music distribution, licensing and consumption. The 2-day event was tagged “The Nigerian Digital Music Summit” and its theme was “Establishing the Basic Rules of Engagement in the Digital Environment”. It was attended by industry practitioners, lawyers and also had resource people from countries with more mature copyright systems, such as Norway, Finland and South Africa. At the end of the summit, a communiqué was published, outlining the various things the community wanted to see in place.

The summit was timely for a couple of reasons – this year, for the very first time, it was reported that revenues from digital exploitation surpassed sales from physical. Revenue from streaming is quickly bridging the gap with revenues from downloads, with some companies actually reporting higher income from streaming than downloads. Streaming is the future, as I have previously written, and the time to begin to lay the groundwork for the Nigerian music industry to fully partake of it, was at least 3 years ago.

THE TELCOS ARE EVIL CORP.

Moving quickly to the substance of the proceedings, the gathering very quickly turned on the telcos, accusing them of benefitting unfairly from the music they exploited, mostly via Caller Ring Back Tones (CRBTs – the songs you hear playing when you give someone a call). And it was understandable. For an industry that has risen from piracy-ridden ashes to becoming arguably the leading hub in Africa and a major contributor to GDP post-rebasing, CRBTs were the content producer’s goldmine for sometime. Network saturation, in terms of subscribers and availability of CRBTs now means there are lots more mouths contending for the same pot of beans and individual revenues are declining somewhat.

In the middle of all this however, is the [unsavoury] fact that the telcos retain anywhere between 60 and 80% of the income generated from CRBTs. The remaining 20-40% is then shared between the Value Added Service (“VAS”) Company and the artist/or record label, with of course an even smaller share for the artist if they are signed to a label. With the bulk of their earnings coming from either corporate endorsements (but we can’t all be Don Jazzy, Phyno, Wizkid or Olamide) and CRBTs, the industry is probably justified to demand a larger cut.

Tellingly, however, very little attention was paid to streaming in spite of the efforts of CAPASSO CEO, Nothando Migogo, to stress that the time to focus on it was now i.e. before bandwidth and data costs stop being issues.

The industry should be worried about streaming because each of the four telcos in Nigeria now operates a music streaming service – MTN Music+, Airtel Wynk, Etisalat Cloud9 and Globacom’s Music App. If these telcos have held on to the lion share of the revenue with CRBTs, what’s going to happen with streaming revenue from their services? For other music streaming services, the most efficient way to take payments from subscribers and purchasers is via their airtime. However, when the telcos convert airtime to cash to pay for a transaction, they typically retain about 70% of it, leaving only 30% to be shared between the stand-alone streaming service and the artist/label. Perhaps the even more pressing issue is that the aim of the telcos in starting these services, in my opinion, is to sell data, as voice revenues have peaked globally – data is the new frontier. It’s the same reason some of them are getting into video on demand, etc. In other words, data sales are the real target, the real pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for the telcos, and these guys don’t share data revenue (larger than music download or streaming subscription revenue) with anyone.

BUT EVERYONE LOVES THE FREE DOWNLOAD SITES

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Perhaps it’s even more striking that an industry that wants to earn serious digital revenues made no reference to the industry practices that cannibalise the larger portion of digital earnings, particularly the way nearly everyone offers vast amounts of music for free downloads. What will the incentive be for consumers to buy albums when 70% has previously been released for free. If one also considers the fact that the industry is globally now more singles-driven than albums (iTunes killed the album), this is effectively a limiter on potential earnings, if all singles are given away. The CRBT gravy-train won’t last forever and it isn’t even really working for those who need it to, who have neither the eye-watering performance fees or the juicy telco endorsement deals. Will those ones dare cross the picket line against their benefactors?

ENTERTAINMENT DEVICE LEVY?

Another interesting issue that came up was the Private Copy Levy. This is basically a surcharge on all mobile phones, tablets, PCs, storage devices, etc. to compensate musicians for the revenues they lose when we email or Bluetooth music to each other. I would be very interested to see how our analogue National Assembly would treat this sort of legislation.

F.U.B.U.

Perhaps a final impression is on a comment made by the panellist on the need to develop homegrown solutions to our problems. Yes, benchmarks can be drawn against global best practice, but ultimately the mature systems matured because they developed relatively organically and catered to the needs of their locale, not necessarily pidgeon-holing themselves into systems others had developed. I think it’s important to take local peculiarities into account, to get the system that works best for us.

All said, COSON is doing very important work and deserves commendation for how far its come in the past few years. As long as it becomes clearer how it distributes revenues it collects, and as it increasingly delivers value to the industry, the benefits to will be immense.

Buhari Presidency: What Lawyers Expect

I was asked to do this piece as part of  a series for TheScoopNG.com. The piece was first published on their website, here.

PGMB

I did not support General Buhari’s candidacy for the 2015 elections and I am therefore wary of adding my voice to the growing list of people setting an agenda for him. However, as someone recently pointed out, he’s going to have a difficult enough time merely living up to his campaign promises without the input of this new self-appointed council of state, so I suppose this piece cannot do too much [further] harm.

The original topic I was asked to discuss was the Judiciary’s expectations of the incoming president. As I am not a judge however, I asked for latitude to discuss what I think will be the expectations of the legal profession as a whole.

Judicial Reform

There is no better person in the world to be Vice President, when it comes to the issue of judicial reforms, than Professor Yemi Osinbajo. He is the reason why the Nigerian Law School had to develop additional course material on civil procedure. During his time as Attorney-General of Lagos State, he oversaw the introduction of revised rules of court that sought to make the process of litigation a much smoother and more efficient affair. Many states have since amended their rules of civil procedure to conform more to those in Lagos State.

Unfortunately, however, even though Lagos continues to lead the country in judicial process innovation, trial times still average 2-4 years for hearing relatively uncomplicated matters. Many people do not mind being taken to court because they know immediately that the pressure to take remedial/corrective action has been lifted for a while. Many people, on the other hand, also resort to self-help because they do not have the luxury of 2 years to waste on a decision which they can’t even reasonably predict. I have previously discussed judicial reform here.

Of course, this is a matter on the Concurrent Legislative List, meaning that the Federal Government cannot dictate how States run state courts. However, the Buhari-Osinbajo regime would do well to pioneer the reform process at the Federal Courts. If they are successful, it is only a matte of time before the states follow suit. Faith must be restored in the judiciary as the last hope of the common man. There should be relative predictability of durations and outcomes. The judiciary staff, especially the support staff should become more professional and less demanding of “facilitation” to give dates or progress files.

Regulatory Certainty/Stability

This is probably the great desire of my constituency of commercial law advisers and practitioners. As it stands today, you would be hard-pressed to find legal advice with absolute certainty on all applicable taxes applicable to a business. Most advisors will only give an approximation because we have 3 tiers of tax, which get murkier as you descend down the federal ladder. Some of the taxes overlap and although successive governments have promised to address the matter, very little progress (some would even say effort) has been made.

If you add into the mix the growing number of chartered professional institutes and professional regulatory bodies all jostling for relevance and adding further barriers and hurdles to the business process, the picture becomes even cloudier.

Uncertainty is a disincentive to business and investment. It hinders proper planning and leaves avenues for businesses to be exploited by unscrupulous government officials. Of all the talk and bandying about about of the much clichéd “creating an enabling environment” for businesses, putting entrepreneurs in the position to resist the imposition of random and stealth levies ranks nearly as high, in my estimation, as ensuring stable electricity. Let everyone know what their obligation to society is and be free thereafter to pursue their interests.

There is also the uncertainty that comes about in legislating via directives. Heads of government agencies, very many times on whims, change policy or business requirements with a mere letter or an interview in the newspapers. Thankfully, a few directives have successfully been challenged (eg FRSC directive on new license plates) but a system where wide-reaching policy shifts or legal requirements don’t go through the rigorous process of law-making or being issued as gazetted regulations must be discouraged.

Rule of Law

This should not be too hard for the ex-General as his greatest asset is his reputation for abhorring corruption and corrupt practices. I would approach upholding the rule of law from 2 sides. The first, more obvious side, is that which compels government and its agencies to respect the law and be subject to due process at all times. The less popular, and less expounded side, is that which insists that there must be consequences for wrongdoing, no matter how highly placed the wrongdoer is.

Conversely, agents of government must also act within the limits of their powers. Wearing a uniform and brandishing a firearm should not become a license for trampling on the rights of citizens. Policemen should no longer be available as intimidators-for-hire to settle civil disputes (which, when you think about it, would no longer be necessary if the courts granted timely/speedy justice).

This point also extends to our orientation as a people. While it would be totally unacceptable for the country to go back to the floggings of when the General was last at the helm of affairs, we do need to be “whipped” into shape. The “Do You Know Who I Am” syndrome had to die an urgent death. People must learn to wait their turn, be orderly and show consideration for the next person. So whether it’s in the conduct of one’s business or simply driving from Point A to B, upholding the rule of law on the part of both the government and the citizenry, means everyone understands the legal and social consequences of all their actions.

The public office side probably should be higher on the priority list, however. And if they can reform the judiciary and speed up the dispensation of justice, it should no longer take 2-3 years to determine if a public official pilfered or not. There should also be no interference from the Federal Government with the various law enforcement agencies, as long as those ones also act in good faith within the scope of their enabling laws. They should be free to investigate and prosecute without let or hindrance.

To conclude, there are probably a few more areas that the profession would like to see the impact of the incoming government. However, it is my belief that achieving even one of these items would be transformational for the entire country. Achieving all three would be nothing short of earth shattering. If the government can ensure that the system works more efficiently, is fairer to those on the lower rungs of the societal ladder, and metes out commensurate punishments for crimes (no more N300,000 fines for N50bn thefts), then I am quite confident that the government will earn a veritable commendation from the legal profession.

The JUSUN Strike: 7 Things (Guest Post by Damola Layonu, @snagapus)

On 2nd January 2015, the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) called an indefinite nationwide strike of all judiciary staff, the last resort in a bid to compel the Federal Government to comply with the Court’s decision in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/66/2013; JUSUN vs. National Judicial Council, ordering that funds accruing to the judiciary from the Federal Account be henceforth paid directly to the heads of courts of the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory. Below are 7 likely fallouts of this –

  1. “Wrong place at the wrong time abi? Na so.” *yinmu*

 

Justice delayed is justice denied, and no mistake! Whether your doppelganger (look-alike) stole bread in the market, or you had a sordid affair with the local Inspector’s wife, if you’re in jail waiting to post bail, think again. The nightmare is just beginning. Get comfortable…or…UN-comfortable as the case may be. You may be staying a while.

 

  1. Waiting for trial? You’re on a LOOOOOONG thing”

 

For two straight days, John Bull and Dauda, the two ‘presidos’ of your cell have made your stay…interesting. There are rats, there are mosquitoes, and you are faced with the shocking realisation that hypothermia is possible in this hot country! You actually have an excellent lawyer, one who might be able to get you off the hook…IF he could just get you a trial date. DARN! The ingenious defence your lawyer has somehow managed to conjure won’t see the light of day for quite some time. Please refer to No.1 above.

 

  1. “Default Penalties: To pay, or not to pay?”

 

At court, every move a lawyer makes – when to file, when to respond, when to serve – is timed. If he exceeds the stipulated time, he just applies for an extension, right? WRONG! What happens if time runs out during the strike? Does he still apply for an extension of time? If so, what reasons does he give? Whose inadvertence (mistake) should the court excuse? Does he pay penalties? If he decides (rightly so, in my opinion) not to, can the Registry lawfully reject his filing? If the Registry refuses, what’s his next move? So many questions! Arrggghhhh!!!! *pulls out hair*

 

  1. “I just got back…for good”

 

You escaped the shores of our blessed country, and have settled somewhere on the Continent, in the Carribean, the Orient or maybe further away than that. One day, you receive a subpoena, summoning you home to give crucial evidence in a case for/against your brother/mother/godmother/company/uncle’s sister/doctor/babalawo etc. and here you are, prepped and ready to destroy the opposition’s case. What now? Just pop back home for a bit? I think not. The strike could end at any time and your absence from court might just put the case in jeopardy, or worse, be deemed contempt, putting you at risk of jail-time the minute you return.

 

  1. “Adjourned to the 29th of Never”

 

Any Nigerian lawyer worth his salt knows that the Court Registries have backlogs – files awaiting re-assignment, rulings that have not been delivered (or written, for that matter, in some cases), and last but not least, suits awaiting adjournment. What is another likely impact of the strike? That’s’ right – MORE files awaiting re-assignment, rulings that have not been delivered/written and suits awaiting adjournment. Good luck with that, guys!

 

  1. “Professional fees, but UN-professional expenses?”

 

Most firms take an initial deposit on account and then settle the balance upon conclusion of a lawsuit. Expenses, however, accumulate during the course of the suit, and may be calculated based on a number of factors including lawyers’ attendance at court. So the question is – Should lawyers still claim their expenses for court attendance even though they KNOW the courts aren’t sitting?

 

  1. “Winner takes (and keeps) all”

 

It’s election season again, or for some lawyers, early Christmas. Every election seems to breed more disgruntled politicians, claiming they won the primaries within their respective parties. Lawyers rub their hands in glee, knowing fully well that the egoes of those passed over will inevitably kick in, the court battles will begin, and the money will follow. Well, sorry lawyers, no Christmas for you this term. And as for the petitioners, we are equally sorry. For if you lost the primaries, you lost FOR REAL. No take-backsies!

 

Now, while I acknowledge that this industrial action may bode serious and detrimental implications and effects, I think looking on the lighter side of things helps. So here’s hoping the strike ends soon and that you at least got a giggle out of this.