[INTERVIEW] GOD NUDGED ME TO START PAQ SESSION ~PHILIP ASUQUO

In 2012, he resigned a promising job as a Creative Director in a media firm to start Gospel City Naija, a blog dedicated to promoting gospel acts.  He left his job unsure of his means of livelihood simply because God called him to blog. Since he launched out, he has brought many gospel artistes to limelight. Today Philip Asuquo has evolved into a Media Strategist, Piomen and Futurist. Aside his work at Bloom Square, where he is the Head Strategist, he holds quarterly non-profit summit, PAQ SESSION, across states in Nigeria. In this interview with BrojidWorld Editor, Joseph Dinwoke, he shares how he started, how he got his first break at GospelCityNija, his secrets of running business with ease, advice for gospel artistes and what he wants to achieve with PAQSESSION. Relax  and enjoy this inspiring encounter.

 

Thanks for joining me on Gospel People, a platform on Brojid World where we interact with Christians on Christian lifestyle.

 

Thank you very much; it’s a privilege to be here. I have gone through your blog from time to time and your Facebook posts and I have always been impressed by what you do. So, it’s a privilege to be here.

Thanks brother for joining me. Beyond the person I see in your writings on the web, let’s know who Philip Asuquotes  Asuquo is.

I am glad you called it that way.  The main identity for me is that I am the son of God. We have to understand that identity. It’s not like I heard someone say it. It’s a confirmation I heard from God over and over again. So, everything starts from there and I am on earth to manifest the purpose that he made me for.

Besides that, if you check all my social media handles, you find out that one of the things I describe myself as is a strategist. My father, God, is a strategist so I, His son, am a strategist too.

I also describe myself as a Poimen. This means someone that the Lord raises to take care of his own. You could call me a pastor; but I see the word pastor more as a verb than a noun.  It’s not a title I carry but a function I perform.

 You can also call me a nationalist; I am a nationalist. I believe that Nigeria can get better through the concerted positive efforts of her citizens. We have had misconceptions about the country and I strongly believe that it will take God’s own to put this country right on course.

Tell us about where you come from and possibly your educational background.

I studied mass communication at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and i am from Akwa-Ibom state. I was born in Port Harcourt. I did all my higher education in Igbo land. In a way, I have blended with the eastern pattern of life, so most people think I am Igbo when they meet me.

 

Can you speak small Igbo for me?

My brother, don’t tell me to go there.

(General laughter)

I used to joke to my friends back in those days…I often told them I came to Igbo land to learn all your business sense. I didn’t  bother learning your language.

You founded GospelCityNija.  When did you start?

 

GospelCityNija is an online blog that started around 2011.  I had the vision of it but didn’t quite understand what it was. The manifestation came in 2012.

 I was actually the creative director of a company that came from Ghana and I went to consult for them as strategist and they held me down. They put me on salary and I was busy doing all that. One of the days in the office, I had this inner call in my spirit.  I found out that God wants me to start an online blog.

Now, the company I was working with wanted to partner with me on a number of things. One of the things was an online platform and a TV platform that was for secular entertainment because I was promoting secular music back then. I had a lot of partners – clubs and artiste managers willing to work with me then. They were all set and ready, we were going to start promoting their works and right there I kept having this call that I should start a gospel blog.

I became restless. I had to go to the ICT department and tell the guy there that we had to work on a new blog and he was like ‘bro, we just worked on your website’.

I knew I couldn’t rest until I had that blog up. I actually had to put the blog together by myself.

It was a call. I was called to blog.

You resigned from your job?

Yes, I had to resign. It wasn’t easy.

 

You resigned because you were sure of how much money you would rake in running GospelCityNija?

My brother, the truth is that when God speaks to you, He makes you see beyond what every other human being could see. He made me see the impact that the blog was going to make in the lives of people and for me that was profit enough. Of course, if souls will be won and succour given to people, why not get in there. I have always wanted to help and encourage people.

I didn’t really care about myself. That’s the truth about working on GospelCityNija. I just felt that the content we had online was and still is so bad and I wanted to put up content that people can see as an alternative.  I just started, kept at it and it grew.

I wasn’t even thinking about the money. It was still God that made the money to start coming in from my clients. Even when the blog wasn’t that big, a top gospel artiste in the south south called me and said ‘Philip, I am going to pay you to be my publicist using this blog.’

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 The first amount he paid me was fifty thousand naira.

Serious?

Yes.  It’s amazing when God just wants to blow your mind. I got into blogging with the mind to promote gospel content, bringing creativity into gospel entertainment. That’s what I was in for.  I wanted to make sure that gospel music get to that stage that even secular artist will want to say  “What is happening there mehn, we want to join them and see.”

 I threw in everything I have – my creativity, experience and knowledge. I didn’t know I would be paid for the work. But God brought that man my way and he started it off.

While starting gospel GospelCityNija, did you encounter any challenge?

If I tell you I encountered challenges, I’d be lying to you.

For real?

Yes. The truth is this, if God calls you into a thing, you have to give yourself to it. Sometimes, when God calls us, we start trying to make it work the way we want. You are allowed to plan but you have to give that plan over to God. That’s when you will have ease in executing the task.

People called me to give me accommodation in different cities in Nigeria and even from different African countries. God was sponsoring everything and that’s why it was easy for me. I went from going to cyber cafes to update to having my own laptop to work with. It was easy because I followed God all the way.

I was peaking with my business partner this evening and we have a lot of plans for this year and we committed them to God. The one that we put for item 7, God is making it item 2 now. You find out that when you commit your plan to God, He is not going to say, ‘Oya start.’ He is going to rearrange it in a way that will make it easy for you. You have to be willing to yield yourself to that order that He brings to your plans.

What helped me on GospelCityNija is that I was very open to God; I was willing to follow Him.  I had to leave anything and live a life of ministry.

My brother, I was fasting every month. I fasted the first seven days of every month. Nobody told me to fast; I was led by the spirit to fast.

When God calls you to do something, plan but after planning, hand your plans over to Him. When he rearranges it, just go with it. It helps make the whole work easy.

I started GospelCityNija and it took me to a lot of places. Everywhere it took me, my transport and other expenses were sponsored by other people. The food I was eating was paid for. My accommodation was paid for. People actually called me to come and stay in their houses and hotel to work, just to see that guy that is running Gospel City Naija.

People called me to give me accommodation in different cities in Nigeria and even from different African countries. God was sponsoring everything and that’s why it was easy for me. I went from going to cyber cafes to update to having my own laptop to work with. It was easy because I followed God all the way.

Brother, is entertainment really scriptural?  Are we not just supposed to listen to the word of God and not seek or get entertainment in the form of comedy?

The truth about life is that you need to understand why you do the things you do. My life has been about the kingdom of God. God let me know about the seven mountains of culture that Christians are to occupy till Christ returns. Entertainment is one of them.

The mountains include media, government, economy, faith, family, entertainment and education.

If you look at these mountains, you will find that God has given you gifts to occupy at least one mountain. He wants you to realise that you are on a mountain of influence that will influence society. If you fail to occupy that mountain, what will occupy it will not be of God. Entertainment is very much part of God’s agenda.

Please how do you define secular song? Is it the lyrics or the singer?

I don’t know what secular music is and what it is not. For me, I categorise music under wholesome and unwholesome music. If what you are singing is about moving your waist, I know the music is not for me. It doesn’t represent the lifestyle that I live. I don’t groove to the beat, I groove to what you are saying.

If you are singing a song and you are telling me how we should look before we cross the road. You know that ‘make you dey look well before you cross’ song? That are others like it are socially conscious songs. I can’t even call them secular songs. For me, it’s either that the song is wholesome or not. It’s either that it’s morally debasing or morally uplifting. For me, the line is what the song is telling me to do.

I have seen many gospel songs that the production is not good; whereas the songs we call secular come out tight – the beat, lyrics and production. What is responsible for this?

The major problem is ignorance. It makes you put out a song that is mediocre. If you knew better, you would do better. Ignorance makes you fail to understand that you should plan for the promotion for your song after recording it too.

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Cuts in…Is it not the Holy Spirit that should promote the song?

(Laughter) Do you wonder why God made some people promoters and strategists? It’s because He needs vessels to work and He knows that these vessels will do His work. He made them strategists and created a platform for them to work. People have had bad experiences with promoters but It’s a different thing when someone that He raised does your work.

The truth is that the church gets offerings. It’s the offerings that are used for the running of the church. Why can’t we say, ‘Don’t buy fuel…God will provide for the generator to run without fuel’.

 The problem is that we are ignorant of so many things.

You are a stakeholder in gospel entertainment. What is your advice to gospel artistes in making songs that impact life?

You don’t have to sing like everybody or sing what someone else has sang. You should have a place with the Holy Spirit from where songs will be given to you. God won’t send three people to do the same thing. You have to look for what God is sending you to do. Try as much as possible not to conform to what is already in existence. Let the Holy Spirit birth your ministry for you. God can give you a hit song that will impact the world.

Why should someone promote his song on GospelCityNija?

 There is a revelation that God gave me: He said that whatever we promote, the ends of the earth shall see it. That’s why we are careful with what we promote on the platform.

We promoted someone on our platform and after two year, she was invited to come and minister in one Muslim country and everything about her logistics was taken care of. It was like a dream to her.

The thing about GospelCityNija is that it’s what God wants it to be. It’s a city set on a hill. The moment we put an artiste up there, you never can tell who is going to see it and who they will turn out to be. It’s beyond the music. It’s a lifestyle.

PAQ SESSION is a live intellectual and thought leadership session. The aim is to bring together Africa’s young intellectuals and stimulate them intellectually to become solution providers to their states, nation and the African continent.

Alright. We understand that you have evolved through the years and currently have a platform called PAQ SESSION. Tell us about it

Thank you for pointing out the fact that I evolved. You see, the reason many ‘Christians’ get weary is because they stay stuck in norms and in the task God gave them. God always wants to do a new thing in our lives and He is ever willing to do it with us. We need to be dynamic enough for Him to do new things through us.

I have always been concerned about the intellectual growth of African youths. I have always believed it takes the efforts of intellectuals to make the fabric of the society more colourful and enjoyable. Intellectual efforts put into inventions, literature etc has made our lives on earth better.

This being, it is quite alarming to note that there seem to be a dearth of intellectuals in our society. I thought of this and when I got God’s nudge in that direction, I had to heed.

PAQ SESSION is a live intellectual and thought leadership session. It is hosted in various cities. The aim is to bring together Africa’s young intellectuals and stimulate them intellectually to become solution providers to their states, nation and the African continent.

So far, the impact of the platform has been quite encouraging. We have hosted it in a few cities and will host it in some more and on and on.

Thank you for coming on board for this interview. God bless you and bless all your endeavours for Him.

Thanks brother. Thanks for having me too.


Editor’s Note:  Next PAQ SESSION holds in Enugu on 19th November, 2016
VENUE: De Dome Enugu I ENTRY: FREE I Limited Seats Available. To reserve your seat, text your name and YES to 07063607101

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Joseph Dinwoke

Chief Content Officer at Brojid World
Joseph 'Brojid' Dinwoke, Radio producer/OAP at Radio Nigeria Voice96.7FM, and publicist, is the curator of Brojid.com. At Brojid World, he creates contents and provides training, mentoring, coaching and inspiration for peak performance in your life and work through blog posts, podcasts, books and training. You can follow him on social media by clicking on any of these social media icons. To get his daily inspirational and insightful broadcast on WhatsApp, connect with him with: 0810 550 4664

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