The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has appointed juju music maestro, King Sunny Ade, as the federal government’s ambassador for the “Change Begins With Me” national re-orientation campaign.
Speaking in Abuja on Monday when he received the world-renowned musician on a courtesy visit to his office, the minister described Sunny Ade as an icon and a trailblazer, who has reigned in the music industry for over 50 years without blemish.
He said: “We are looking for people like you that the younger ones can look up to. It’s not just that you have been around for 50 years but you have been around for 50 years without any single stain on your person and that is very hard.
“Most people in your position would have had one issue or the other such that their integrity would be at stake. But your integrity is as strong, if not stronger than when you started.
“So it would be a pleasure if you can accept to be our ambassador of the Change Begins With Me.
“I want the younger ones to look up to you and see that they can actually get to the top without cutting corners. That is exactly what you have done. You have never cut corners and you have gotten to the top.”
Mohammed said after performing music for 50 years, the energy, dexterity and the passion exuded by Sunny Ade have remained amazing and a source of inspiration for younger artists.
He hailed the musician for promoting the juju music genre to enviable heights, with an originality that has made imitating his music an exercise in futility.
The minister said this current administration was paying more attention to the development of the entertainment industry because of its vast potential in generating employment and creating wealth.
He however said having studied the industry, he had come to the conclusion that there was a systemic weakness in the industry, especially the inability of government to adequately protect the intellectual property rights of the nation’s artists, an issue he said his ministry was now tackling with stakeholders.
Mohammed said he had set up a ministerial task force on the creative economy as a deliberate strategy to explore ways of turning the creative industry into a viable avenue for investment by the private sector.
While accepting the offer to serve as the ambassador for the Change Begins With Me campaign, Sunny Ade pledged to partner with the Ministry of Information and Culture to move the nation forward.
“You don’t need to say much. This is what I love to do and it has been part of me. We are ready to do that officially throughout the whole world,” he said.
Sunny Ade thanked the minister for the uncommon passion he has shown for the entertainment industry, especially by encouraging artists to achieve their potential and contribute to nation building.
He also thanked the minister for attending his 70th birthday celebration, which was held recently.