‘The most exploited, neglected Nigerians are our talents’
In all spheres of life, Nigeria is a vast pool of talents. From the traditional professions through the arts, and latter-day technology, Nigerians are proving their mettle. In fact, they set the trail in most cases and are shoulders above their counterparts elsewhere.
But two problems easily beset them. Their talent is either not discovered and harnessed or when it is recognised, it is under-valued and exploited without the required or even adequate reward. Largely, it is unrecognised genius and potential left to waste.
But there are some Nigerians, who believe things should be done otherwise. They have taken it upon themselves to rewrite this sad narrative for a happier one. This is the turf Temple Management Company (TMC), set up almost a year ago, will be plying its trade in talent discovery and management. Nigerian talents, at least those signed on by TMC, will not only be properly managed and nurtured, they will also receive the support necessary to succeed and compete at the global arena.
Interestingly, the company’s portfolio for talent development cuts across entertainment, arts and sports in that seamless manner that is often lacking. These three areas, according to the Founder and CEO of TMC, Mr. Idris Olorunnimb, deliver high-end entertainment to millions of people the world over just as they are the pillars of some economies of major countries in the world.
In entertainment, there is Mavin Records, Iyanya, Jeff Akoh, 9ice, DJ Jimmy Jatt, Fela’s drummer and two-time Grammy award winner, Lekan Babalola and writer and filmmaker, Biyi Bandele. The sports talents include a 12-year old tennis prodigy, Marylove Edwards, Seye Ogunlewe and Ebi Onome (Super Falcons star). In the arts, there is eclectic painter and printmaker, Victor Ehikhamenor, Mode Aderinokun, Fola David and Logor. In media, Funmi Iyanda is sole signee.
In a recent conversation last week at TMC office on Victoria Island, Lagos, Olorunnimbe set out the vision of TMC to include “forging a deep, enduring relationship with these talents and being the backbone to these artists; the individual prosperity of people who sign up to us is just as critical. We manage talent across entertainment sectors – sports, music, movie, arts, and fashion. Music is moving faster than others, but movie is trying to catch up with it. But there is music in movies. As movie is developing, it is helping music (in terms of sound tracks).
“We pride ourselves like pioneers; nobody is set up like us; none is strategic as us. We are the first in the market; people are not willing and ready to sacrifice or suffer. The most exploited and neglected Nigerians are our talents. It’s not just about people singing. Writers and artists have vibrant, marketable skills.”
Olorunnimbe sees his company as a “collection of young and not-so young people, who see the need to protect talents from themselves and a third party. The job of a talent manager is to ensure that that the talents live up to his or her potentials. Those who fall victim to contractual obligations isn’t because they are daft or uneducated, but because they are desperate.”
He also noted that across Africa, where it is establishing a strong presence (with another office in Kenya to cater for the East African market), entertainment (in terms of sports, arts and music/movie) were yet to take their pride of place, saying, “If you remove entertainment and sports components of the U.S. and the U.K, can you imagine what those economies will become?
“We will unlock your opportunities. Whatever is hindering their talent from blossoming we will ensure we remove it and let them make their due. Our aim is for the artist to focus on his talent and we focus on its business.”
TMC’s Director of Finance, Mr. Hamza Idris Kutugi, gave indication on the need for insuring artists on its stable and preparing them for when their active years are over, adding, “We will prepare artists also for when they can’t sing, dance, paint or write any more.”
Also, Director, Legal, Mr. Ayodeji Olomojobi, said TMC is a composite talent hunting firm with “different departments infused into the team. We have different people doing different things. Our model is a commissioned-based model.”
Olorunnimbe gave insight into TMC’s work, particularly on the prodigious 12-year tennis talent, Marylove Edwards. A tennis coach in South Africa begged her parents to relocate from Nigeria with her so he could coach, mentor and expose her to the world stage. Now, however, TMC has secured support for her by getting Zenith Bank Plc and TY Danjuma Foundation as her sponsors. Olorunnimbe stressed the need for Nigeria’s corporate organisations to link talents with their brands’ equity, saying it has been the missing ingredient to talent development on the African continent as against elsewhere.
Also, TMC’s Arts Manager, Wunika Mukan, noted that the company was designed to provide local and international opportunities and platforms for artists to bloom in their respective fields. For instance, the company has secured an art gallery contract for Ehikhamenor in the U.K., where he would showcase his works alongside other artists. He would be in Venice, Italy, for the next biennale, courtesy TMC.
“We are looking for opportunities for our artists,” she said, “we want them to just focus on the creative side while we look at the business side. We want to plug a lot of things that just slipped through the cracks, like helping with exhibitions, providing media support, like sending them to residencies to keep them sharp. We will just connect them to where they need to be at any point in time.”