Music Business

AML Exclusive: Tope Esan Steps Down as President of the NEA Awards, Martin FAYOMI Announced as New President


Tope Esan has been President of the Nigeria Entertainment Awards (NEA) right from the onset of the awards event. Nine (9) years later, the organization announces a new direction and also names one of its co-founders, Martin Fayomi, as new president. I personally think this is a good move. While Tope should me commended for taking the NEA Awards this far, I have said often that NEA Awards is really a potent awards event here in the USA yet to really and fully realize its potential.

As Nigerians in the diaspora, we know the statistics support the fact that we are one of the most educated immigrant groups, if not the most educated, in the USA. The statistics also support the fact that we are cosmopolitan, can be found in urban cities, are high income earners, have the disposable and discretionary income to spend and are consumers of entertainment products, making us prime candidates for any company in the USA to really want to target. Also significant is that we are now basically keeping many in the USA’s entertainment industry employed. Are you keeping tabs on the many entertainers flocking to Nigeria to perform and the exorbitant amounts we pay them? From A-D celebrities we keep many employed. In addition, on the fashion end, luxury brands are cowering to Nigeria. On the sports end, the major players are actually looking to establish leagues in Nigeria. It is indeed mind boggling what we can do and we need to change the rhetoric from the many artists in Nigeria showing up here, paying American artists for a one second collabo and selfie image.

There is so much leverage and bargaining power we can wield in our business dealings with Americas’s fashion and entertainment industries, but we need the solidarity, support of our own businesses and also to execute on an excellent level, everytime. I hear often, and in my experience it can be true, some Nigerians can be quite something when they approach their own for services or purchase of products. However, it is our job to teach them how to approach their own and refuse to accept anything less than above average products and services and professionalism otherwise we take our money to the next Nigerian and non-Nigerian who gets it.

To me, NEA Awards stands in the gap as  that middle man/organization to breach the gap and truly edit the noise and nonsense coming out of our industry. It also stands in the gap to leverage and broker some important deals yet to occur here in the USA but will be necessary for the industry. This is what I expect from the organization going into its ninth (9th) year. I also hope that majority of you AML readers approached by the NEA, from the IROKO, AFRINOLLY, MCSN, COSON, the artists, the entertainment lawyers and labels and other important brands will truly see the bigger picture, get it and throw your money and support behind the brand.

It is really unacceptable that as a community, we have not really been able to rally around this award event, fully support it by our actions and monies, demand nothing short of excellence and be a part of making it successful, knowing very well that we stand to benefit immensely from its success.

I hope 2014 is a game changing year for the awards event.

Read the release below.




NEW YORK, NY. (Feb (4th), 2014) Nigeria Entertainment Awards (NEA) is pleased to announce a new president and chief executive officer among its current executives named to lead the organization into the future.

Martin Fayomi, who serves on the NEA Awards governing board since its inception as Executive Producer, has been named president/CEO. Martin steps into the position following the executive team decision to take a new approach in the continuous development of the brand.

Current President of the organization, Tope Esan will assume other roles within the organization and remain an executive producer alongside Mr. Cosmas Collins (aka Cos Canino) and Azeem Jolasum (aka Deejay Zimo).

“For me, this is an opportunity to create something fresh for the entertainment industry and raise the level our brand commands in the minds of our audience,” Martin said.

Martin holds a Bachelor’s degree in health care administration from St. Johns University in New York and a Master’s Degree from New York Medical College. Martin is the CEO of Firematic Entertainment Group and also serves on the boards of IJE Africa, Juliet Ibrahim Foundation and Okunato Foundation. He is a recognized public speaker, lecturing at universities teaching clinics and to young adults about their interest in self-development in and out of Africa.

“Martin is thoroughly familiar with how well Tope has performed for our organization and we are confident that he will ensure that our brand grows further. We are fortunate to have been able to select a president/CEO who knows the organization well and has a deep commitment to our mission,” according to Cos Canino.

Fellow executive member Deejay Zimo said Martin, working alongside the existing staff, will be able to make great contributions and a smooth transition to a brand update scheduled for February of 2014.

Martin said his first priority is to “reassure and inspire” the entertainment community, that being a part of this event continues to add value to their career, artistry and most importantly, globalization of the African music industry.

“It’s a transition without much change in my opinion because I will work with the same team but would expect a different result,” Martin said. “What gives me courage is the faith and perseverance of the team. We have good leaders within our organization and I believe when we work for a common goal, we’ve always achieved the best.”

The NEA Awards will soon announce plans for the 9th annual event in New York City and preparation will commence on the popular show.

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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at

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