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Iyanya vs Ubi Franklin........Lessons to be Learned and Why Partnerships Hardly Work in Nigeria

Once upon a time Made Men Music Group (MMMG) was one of the biggest music labels in Nigeria and their star act was former reality star and singer, Iyanya.
Coincidentally, he was one of the hottest exports at the peak of his career and was the favorite among the ladies; a key demographic in music. Fast forward and a few years later; he left the label for Don Jazzy's Mavins label.

When he made the move
, most people were shocked because it was widely believed that Iyanya formed  Made Men Music Group with Ubi Franklin. So you can imagine the shock when he didn't just leave, but he left to Mavins; their biggest rival in the music game at the time.

(Speaking of Mavins, do you guys remember Mo'hits? Oh well, we would touch on that some other time😊).

Back then, people probed Iyanya to know the reason for his move, but he kept mute until now. According to an interview he granted GTB's The Juice (S04E01), he left because Ubi Franklin allegedly cheated him.

In his defence, Ubi Franklin claims when he broached the idea of them becoming partners, Iyanya was nonchalant about it.
 Ubi alleges, Iyanya  said he(Ubi) should handle the business, while he would handle the creative side; his music. It should be noted though that Ubi revealed that when he was able to secure a loan because he used Iyanya's name.

On his part, Iyanya alleges he was not only a partner, he was also entitled to a cut of money realized from other artists like former label mate, Tekno.
While there are so many inconsistencies and he said, he said and they say in this story, I noticed one thing though, Ubi did not just talk, he had some documents to back up his claims. He wasn’t shooting blank, he came prepared. 

 He made sure he tightened most loose ends. Iyanya on his part seemed to have just his word and the fact that some people were allegedly privy to some of the events. Now, if those people are willing to back up his claims, is something no one knows.

Even though one or two people may want to back him, it could easily be assumed and misconstrued that the other party has an axe to grind with Ubi. I am saying this because apart from Tekno, a name that came up is Emma Nyra; Ubi’s alleged ex.

According to Iyanya, Emma Nyra came up with the name, Made Men Music Group(MMMG).

If this ever goes to court (which I hope it doesn’t) , Ubi’s lawyer could argue that Emma Nyra is a scorned ex (allegedly) whose testimony should not be taken seriously.

To limit disagreements like these and avoid unnecessary litigation, people should consider the following before going into partnership.

In Nigeria, most partners who broach the idea of going into partnership with another, usually assume ownership of the business. I remember a story I heard of how two partners attended a meeting with prospective clients together. One of the partners, while addressing the clients, kept on referring to the business “as his”. It got so bad that that one of the clients had to correct him, that he was wrong. The fact that his partner was seated there and he did not seem to care was not only wrong but also disrespectful. It is suffice to say that they are no longer partners. The fact that you are good friends does not mean you will make good business partners

Never go into partnership without clear cut boundaries. Draft a partnership deed. I can’t stress this enough. A partnership deed is a document showing that two or more people have agreed to go into business together.Among other things, it also reveals what is expected of each partner.
Forget the fact that the person is your friend or even family. Always draft out a partnership deed. Let key responsibilities, entitlements, liabilities and whatever is expected of each party be clearly stated in writing. Once the deed has been drafted, have your personal lawyer go through the deed before you agree to the terms by appending your signature.

Periodic meetings should be held to address important issues from time to time. If there is need to adjust earlier agreements, they should be addressed and put in writing.

Always have a lawyer read through every contract. This cannot be stressed enough. The main reason is so he / she can read though your contract and sieve out any legal loophole. Most unfavourable, legally binding clauses that is expected of the artist is hidden in the contract
Hire your own lawyer . This is in reference to the point above. While it is wise to hire a lawyer who would look through your partnership deed or contract, it is paramount that you ensure this lawyer is your own lawyer. Hired by you.
Don't depend on the legal counsel of the lawyer hired by the company or worse hired by your partner. This is because, chances are that your lawyer would have your best interest as against the company's lawyer. Your lawyer will be loyal to you. I know most people (especially upcoming musicians) are usually hesitant to take this step because the legal fees will come out from their pockets but trust me, this move will cost you less compared to losing your whole stake in the company; or worse believing you had a stake in the company while you are nothing but a mere employee.

Ask Iyanya how he felt when he found out he had allegedly been played.

Like I said earlier, I hope both parties can resolve their differences amicably. But most importantly, I hope people; especially artists, would learn to separate sentiments from business.

There is a reason why American hip hop artist, Jay Z is very successful, not just musically but in most business ventures. He does not only see himself as an artist…….. “he is a business man.”


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