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Almost exactly a month following the ousting of former iROKING CEO Michael Ugwu, the ailing Nigerian music service has announced that iROKING founder and original CEO Jason Njoku, will take back the reins.
Njoku’s return will see him continue his duties as CEO of iROKOtv while taking overall control of iROKING artist management, all aspects of music distribution, including YouTube, iTunes and Amazon distribution, and oversee platform partnerships with the likes of Mxit and Eskimi.
Following Ugwu’s ousting, the ex-CEO commented on iROKING’s ill-health saying that iROKO Partners Lagos has seen its staff decrease from around 80 staff to about 15. He put it up to “serious structural issues” that have spurred staff to seek safer employment elsewhere.
Ugwu was fired due to apparent “gross misconduct” and breaching his noncompete. According to IROKO Partners, Ugwu, while still under contract and salary of iROKING, set up and launched his own digital music platform which was in direct competition with iROKING.
Ugwu however, responded by saying that he had not violated any noncompete, demanding proof and argued instead that he was let go because the company is looking to get out of the music game, citing a Whatsapp message from Bastian Gotter, an iROKO Partners founder.
He also says that a decision to wind down iROKING was taken before iROKO management let him go.
“I was verbally asked to become COO of Spark Ltd which I summarily refused stating my intention to stay in the music space,” said Ugwu.
Speaking on returning to a company he founded, Jason Njoku says: “What we’ve built with iROKING in its 23 month history is pretty incredible. There’s a lot of chat amongst the technorati about the potential of the African online music space – now is the time to put words into action, hence why I’m taking a more hands-on approach to growing iROKING from a solid online Nigerian music distributor into a behemoth of a pan-African music platform”.
As of 2014, there will also be a renewed focus on the monetisation of Nigerian digital content, as well as greater emphasis on strategic partnerships with leading companies in the industry.