Rivers State has been buzzing about the shake up among the popular Funky 4 Plus 1. First, followers of the popular Friday morning program on Rhythm 93.7 noticed that comedians, Micheal, Tekena, Kunle and Dan D’ Humorous had been replaced by Mr. OAU and K.O Baba. Then came the announcement online by the original four that they had moved from Rhythm 93.7 to Today’s FM. There has been a lot of speculation over the changes around this popular brand, but you are going to get different accounts of what happened, depending on who you ask.
On the issue of why they left, Eldee has said that; he took Michael and Tekena off the show over creative differences, and then Kunle and Dan D’Humorous decided to leave as well, in solidarity.
“They were dabbling too much into the content and it was no more about comedy,” Eldee said.
“I need to maintain creative control of that program cos I am the one held responsible. If anyone comes here and says something, they will go home and nobody will ask them”.
When asked, Michael Ogolo said that; he and his colleagues left because of what he called “the systematic stifling of the program.”
“Too many guests and too many jingles,” Ogolo said.
“Sometimes we barely have thirty minutes of total talking time out of the entire two hours.”
Ogolo said that; there had always been skirmishes, quarrels and disagreements but that they always settled them immediately.
On the issue of how the program started, there appears to be some disagreement over the facts.
Eldee says that; he put the group together about eleven years ago, first by bringing on Dan D’Humorous and then Kunle.
“Kunle worked in the same company as Tekena and he introduced us. I met Michael at a burial.
“The very idea of coming together as a group on radio, doing comedy, they never would have thought of it.”
Eldee believes that the group’s focus changed over the years.
“They did not know each other, they came together, had a good one, but they derailed along the way…It stopped being about comedy. There would be personal interest here and there…talk for 15 minutes without telling any joke.”
“All of a sudden you have become some kind of socio political commentator. Everybody has their calling and I think their calling is more of comedy than socio political commentary. It’s important to pass a message, using your comedy as a vehicle – not that you would use comedy as a cover for something else which is what they were beginning to do,” Eldee said.
Michael Ogolo’s account of how the collective was set up is slightly different.
“We find it surprising that one person will claim to have formed the program and claim ownership of it.
“Eldee used to bring different comedians to the Morning Drive show. But the meeting of four of us – not prompted by Eldee – happened and was fun spontaneously.”
Both men also have different accounts of how the name Funky 4 Plus 1 came about – a name which could be the subject of litigation.
Ogolo: “Eldee called us ‘Comedy Central’ for a few weeks but because of John Stewart of CNN, we were uncomfortable (because of piracy). We all started thinking of what to call ourselves. A few names popped up but it was Eldee who spoke of a rap group named ‘Funky 4’. He did not sit down on his own to say, ‘I will form a group of comedians and call them Funky 4. I will tell them what to say or what not to say. They will speak like this or like that’. That is the only premise on which he can lay claim to the program.”
Eldee: “As far as suing me over the name, it’s ridiculous. Deep down they know that I came up with that name. I had to explain how I got that name. They never would have thought of it.They are saying that they have registered the name and they are going to sue me. I don’t care about the name. It has outlived its usefulness to me.
Using the name wouldn’t do the program justice because the new guys have a fanbase and they should have their own identity. It’s like moving from a house, leaving the old one behind and going to build a new house, you’re not necessarily going to build it like the old one you had.
Besides I have the capacity to come up with something creative. I don’t have to fight anybody over a name.”
It would appear that Eldee had only continued to use the name ‘Funky 4 Plus 1’ because it wasn’t obvious that Kunle and Dan D’Humorous would leave with their comedic brothers. He had expected them to continue on the program but they chose to go along with Michael and Tekena.
“I came up with the name very effortlessly and I can do it again.”
With a lawsuit over the name possibly out of the way, it looks like the management of Rhythm 93.7 will be turning a new page with new comedians on its Friday morning program. Apart from Mr. OAU and K.O Baba, there is word that Mudiaga, Prince Hezekiah or Arinze Baba might be joining Eldee on Friday mornings. They will be going head to head with Ogolo and his crew, as starting June 3rd, they will be having their own program during the same time belt albeit on a different station.
It’s worth asking, what all this says about the relationships that must have been built over the last eleven years.
Ogolo: “We believe that the Almighty God brought us together and anybody claiming the sacrifices made by us, despite the risks we face everyday on the streets of Port Harcourt will be taking the glory of God. For the record, Eldee is the plus one. He is not Funky 4. He alone can’t be four, can he? We have moved to another station, Today FM 95.1 with the payoff, ‘The Voice of the People’. We give the voice to the voiceless in our society. We will begin on the 3rd of June. Attempts by Eldee to break us up were child’s play.”
Eldee: “Nobody has ever created a program for this station. In the history of Rhythm 93.7, the programs have always been created by us.
It is not true that they were kicked out because they were supporting APC in particular, and we’re supporting PDP. The problem is that they stopped being comedians. We are apolitical. We don’t support any political party.
There were creative differences and I took a professional decision in removing Michael and Tekena. It was a professional decision and we’re not meant to be enemies over this, so I don’t understand all the slandering.”