Crisis Management: Lessons From Rugged Man & 9ice's Private Phone Conversation on Toni Payne Leak

Okay, so I log on to one of my favorite music sites, and what greets me is a headline that says, “Rugged Man & 9ice’s Private Phone Conversation on Toni Payne (Leaked).” The post came complete with a statement from Ruggedman and also an audio clip! “WOW! Do we have a crisis!” is what I thought.

Listening to the audio clip, there were so many layers and lessons in the leakage that I knew an article on crisis management, a subset of Public Relations, was in order. Hopefully, ALL of US and especially aspiring and established designers, stars, musicians, actors and actresses can take a few notes.

Last year, 9ice, Nigeria’s mega star, published a song titled, “Once Bitten Twice Shy.” See Video below. Since the publication of his song, and especially in 2010, there have been vicious rumors stating that one of Nigeria’s hip-hop star Ruggedman and 9ice’s wife, Nigerian fashion personality Toni Payne, were caught in a sexual situation causing 9ice to sing the above song.

The rumors have been especially directed at Ruggedman and Toni Payne. Responding in a timely manner to the rumors, Ruggedman in a press release, denied the rumors and Payne subsequently did the same on social media networks like Facebook. The denials, however, did not quench the rumors. In fact, the rumors and harassment continued and remains, by many, against  both.

Ruggedman, after all of his initial efforts, gets to a point where he decides to confront 9ice, given the harassing phonecalls, Facebook messages, public ridicule of his name and integrity. Ruggedman calls 9ice and in the leak on, makes his case for why 9ice should clear his name. Ruggedman argued that:

1) Ruggedman, Toni Payne and 9ice are all friends, so a special relationship exists;

2)  He is harassed everywhere he goes on something that never happened; and

3) He needs 9ice to clear his name

Unbeknown to 9ice, Ruggedman is recording their conversation, without 9ice’s consent. 9ice remains adamant he will remain silent and argues as follows:

a) He is a star and as a star he expects people will talk about him

b) He can’t and should not be expected to respond to any/all rumors out there, especially given his position as a star

c) The rumor is untrue so there is no reason for Ruggedman to waste his time on it.


I. Is Silent Golden in this Case? Does 9ice Owe a Duty to Ruggedman and Toni Payne to “clear (their) names?”

There is the saying that most of us Nigerians  grew up with,  “silence is the best answer to a fool.” However, there are situations where that rule should rightfully be tossed out the window.

There are two approaches to take in resolving a crisis, i.e. situations that cause harm to a company or person’s reputation.

The 9ice Crisis Management Approach: Ignore the gossipers, public and press and ultimately it will die down or they will find something better to do. Example is how Tiger Woods and Japanese Toyota dealt with their crises. This approach usually makes sense if the crisis does not boil over. However, where you ignore the public and media and 2-3, 4 and even 5months later, the rumors or crisis persists, then you MUST engage a different plan to tame the crisis and ultimately resolve it.

The Ruggedman Crisis Management Approach: This approach says when there is a crisis, especially when your brand/name is under fire, you call a press conference, you take questions and in certain instances, you make every TV and radio show possible to explain yourself. You are proactive.


The K-Leg in 9ice ‘s Current Crisis Management Approach: The rumors were/are vicious. The rumors are unique as it concerns 9ice’s wife (the mother of his child, despite their marital status (separated)). 9ice knows these rumors to be untrue. The rumors have persisted for a while now and have increasingly gotten worse (NET Magazine even published the rumors in its print publication); and   finally the rumors affects the career of a colleague and most importantly, a close friend. Accordingly, 9ice, given that the rumor has brewed beyond heating point, should engage the second approach to crisis management to tame the rumors.

The K-Leg in Ruggedman’s Crisis Management Approach: I understand how vicious rumors can be and totally hear Ruggedman on how humiliating it is dealing with these rumors, especially given its  nature and the fact that it involves friends. It is embarrassing and worse his family, associates, and relationship with women will or have suffered given this vicious rumors. His back, it seems, was against the wall, and he had to do something to clear his name since his press releases and refuting the calls and messages was not working.

Nevertheless, taping someone, without their consent, and leaking it to the press is just wrong. It undermines the very friendship Ruggedman claims is/was important  and  is intrusive and invasive. I am unsure about Nigerian law in this area but in certain states within the USA, and certainly California, that would be illegal.

What should Ruggedman have done? Engage a campaign PR if  it affects him that much and go on every radio and TV station, call a press conference and “free the matter.”

Whether you are a business, a star or an individual, there will be situations where people will spread vicious rumors to really hurt you. Here are some tips that might help. At the core of it is to have a strong sense of crisis principles so you know how to deal with these situations.

I. Have a process to deal with crisis
II. Act with Speed
III. Fix the Problem

In more details
1. Act with speed and reach out to the media and public: It is hard to know what to do when you are faced with a crisis. Do you take the 9ice approach and ignore the crisis? Do you take the Ruggedman’s approach and act? If so, when and how do you act?

At the end of the day, you have to be proactive about a crisis. ACT in a prudent way. Non-action, avoiding the media, public or the situation will not make it go away. Don’t sit on it and let it grow. If it grows, you allow others and especially the media, to tell your story.

2. Apologize: If you are wrong, “say I am sorry.” You’d be surprise what happens with a simple apology.

3. Transparency: Be transparent. Show the public, family or friends how you are fixing the problem.

4. Be a Leader: Leadership is what is needed not fear. Lead.

There are no set rules or solution. One has to be flexible with a crisis and stars should engage the services of PR companies who do this. Within Nigeria’s fashion and entertainment industries, Bobby Taylor PR  and ICY PR is a starting point.

~Article by Uduak Oduok

Ladybrille Magazine

Founded in 2007, Ladybrille® Magazine is a California based pioneer digital publication demystifying the image of Africans in the west through contemporary African fashion and celebrating the brilliant woman in business and leadership, with an emphasis on the African woman in the diaspora. Our coverage includes stories on capital, access to markets, expertise, hiring and retention, sales, marketing, and promotions.

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  1. kaydot says:

    Can some 1 give me da trut of da mata….4get about 4on conversation, n tell me if dat rumour was real or not…

  2. Timiluv says:

    A piece for 9ice.
    i understand how u feel. pleaseeeeeeeee, let it go for the sake of your boy.imagine ur boy in 20 years time. it is like a stigma on him. Nigerians love you and we can’t afford you making further mistakes. Two wrong we never make a right. if u feel u were wronged, then don’t act in the same vein urself. we love you “street credible” Adigun.

  3. Iamwondering says:

    Ok first of all thank you Uduak for this piece. For the first time something reasonable is being said about this issue.
    Hers is my two cents
    I don’t believe anyman wants to sell records at the expense of his wife(seperated or not) and childs reputation.
    Which is why i dont agree with 9ice here. Its true that you dont have to address everything media says about you as a celeb. But when family members and old friends are involved i believe that rule should be broken.
    As i listen to the song more, it really does sound like he was referring to EX-Wife.
    So if Toni Payne is innocent, 9ice are you saying this is what you want (people calling her names) at the expense of ”we are stars”?
    Your silence is not golden here. Your silence here makes us believe she is guilty.
    To Ruggedman dont know if you are guilty or innocent but i know that that was a desperate move. Not cool at all.

  4. jimmy jatt says:

    This is absolute nonsense. Why on earth will Rugge man tape his conversation with 9ice. Thats breach of privacy, I thought he was schooled enough to understand the implications of hs action.

  5. very Insightful.ladybrillenaija for real.I know you would be Objective.oops,I forgot Ms Uduak is a lawyer.nice work keep them coming


  7. @Temi and anyone who wishes to comment on this site, we welcome and appreciate your comments but not at the expense of personal attacks or insults.

    With all due respect, our brand and site is simply not the place for that. Future comments like this will be immediately deleted.

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    The LadybrilleNigeria Team

  8. Bola #1 says:

    o ga o. kasala on bust!

    aside from issues of public relations, how you handle issues like this says a lot about you. Ruggedman was immature and if I may say, unwise, in his approach

  9. Temmy says:

    Ruggedman u dey pass ur boundary,ask me y? U dey sleep wit dt harlot calld TONY PAYNE nd still get liver 2 record ur frnd voice witout im consent.Ahaaa is unfair oooo.9ICE shey u knw say u get sense pass dt idiot,then leave am 4 God.

  10. @Anon- Thank you for reading and thanks for catching the spell check! Come back again.

    Kind regards,
    Uduak Oduok

  11. Anon says:

    Insightful, but the spelling errors are distracting.

  12. goke says:

    BOTTOM LINE: You don’t record a conversation w/o consent from the other party….in Yankee celebs have PR managers that handle these bs through silence or or post conference.

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