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Ekiti 2018: One Costly Mistake and a Million Errors

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Ekiti Primaries
For the All Progressives Congress, (APC), the July 14 gubernatorial election in Ekiti is like the epic battle of two bitter, ancient football rivals.
In the first finals, the prejudiced referee acted like a striker, midfielder and linesman for one side.  In this new battle, the once defeated side now has another chance for a rematch without the hindrance of a partisan referee. This time around, the incumbent, Mr Ayodele Fayose and his crony, Mr Olusola Elenka will no longer have free kick of the ball.
The Federal might, which has always been Fayose’s spring, now hosts his imminent pitfall. But one big mistake is for the once defeated side to field the same team, use the same strategy without tactical alteration. Figuratively, the defeated team is currently choosing its line-up.  On May 5, its captain will be picked.
Four years after the defeat of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), the party is desperate to reclaim a battered image. However, even with the assumed backing of the Federal authorities, the defeat of Mr Fayose and his crony is not given. The possibility of APC dodging another devastating downfall depends on who wins the primary election slated for this Saturday. While Fayose has given a clear direction on his path, the APC is enmeshed on a riotous, trampling race that may produce a candidate who may be another Fayose’s piecemeal.
This is the grave error that APC leadership might commit. This is the dangerous path they might take to the party’s peril. To win the election, the APC has the historic responsibility to organize a primary that is not driven by cash nor motivated by the short-sightedness of a few cabal in the core-North who has been rumoured to be hell-bent on influencing the primary with enormous resources to the detriment of long term stability and prosperity of the commonwealth.
To win the main election, APC needs a sharp break from the past. The party needs a bold, decisive, courageous and iron-cast figure whose sneeze will send Fayose scampering. The party also needs a candidate that will not betray the party. In the context of the realignment on-going in the country, there is the fact that an APC candidate without long standing ideology may be swayed to lead an onslaught against the same APC in the coming years. There are indeed real dangers that Fayose actually has a mole or moles among the aspirants. This is the reason why flirtatious politicians-and some of them are contestants in the APC primary-with a rich history of promiscuity and ambivalence, must be
avoided like a plague.
It is better to hack them now, despite their pretences, than to have to live with the atrocities they will hatch. Apart from these considerations, the APC leadership must be awake to the political realities in Eikiti State without which the party will commit dreadful errors that will make her flounder and be washed away like feeble grains.
In the first place, the APC needs to pick the candidate with the highest propensity to win the governorship race. A key consideration is to understand the balance of political forces, voter’s strength, where it is most potent and the history of voting patterns in the state.
Already, Fayose has scored a key political point by picking his candidate from Ikere, a key city in Ekiti. How does the APC counter this move? There are 2, 195 polling units in Ekiti State. Out of this, Ikere has 86 polling units. The number of registered voters in Ikere is 65,000. The possibility of Ekiti APC producing an Ikere candidate in the next primary has been hampered by the fact that five APC candidates have emerged from this historic town. Though Dr Wole Oluyede was unanimously  agreed by a powerful section in the city, the other four have spat defiantly in the sky and captured the sputum, in anger, with a splash on their faces.  The four are going ahead with equal momentum.
Ikere also has to contend with cultural divisions occasioned by the gulf along her polarized traditional institutions. Ekiti South has the highest aspirants of 11;  Oye council is the next with the highest number of 5; Ekiti central 7; North 7; Gbonyin 3; Ekiti East 2; Ise Orun 2; Irepodun Ifelodun 2; Ijero 2; Ido Osi; Ekiti East 2;  Emure 2. In all, there are 33 aspirants out of which 27 have been cleared by the screening committee. Considering the balance of forces, all the 27 aspirants will have to scramble for delegates in 15 LGs, except Ado which has only one aspirant, Senator Babafemi Ojudu. Ikere for instance will split between 5 candidates. Ido-Osi will be a battle ground between two aspirants. Oye where Dr Kayode Fayemi, Senator Ayo Arise, Bimbo Daramola and others come from will be fiercely contested by 5 aspirants.
The only LG that stands out is Ado, with 182 delegates, by far the highest in the entire state and the most cohesive.  Ikere has about 56 delegates. Ado Ekiti, where Senator Babafemi Ojudu comes from will be
going as one team.  From the prism of logic and common sense,  all what Ado needs is to win pockets of support from other LGs to clinch the trophy.  There is no doubt that a candidate from Ado will strengthen the potential of APC winning the July 14 poll.
Traditionally, Ado has always been the most remarkable electoral determinant of Ekiti voting outlook. At the advent of electoral politics in Ekiti history, it took some time for the Action Group, (AG) to be able to penetrate the entire Ekiti province for no other reason that the initial Ado support for the NCNC.
Not until the trend was broken was AG, which came to Ado in the 1940s, able to overwhelm Ekiti area.
In 1955, for instance, one of the first major political contests took place between Awodimula from Ode Ekiti, Chief Familoni from Ido Ekiti and JE Babatola from Ado Ekiti. Babatola won in the AG primary and won the main election.
In 2003 elections, Otunba Niyi Adebayo won in 12 of the 16 LGs.  Fayose turned the table with votes from Ado. No election has been held in Ekiti State without Ado being the major pathfinder. In the last election for instance, Ado had 137,155 out of 733,766 registered voters trailed by Irepodun Ifelodun 54,085; Ijero 49,417 votes, Ikole 49, 390; Ekiti East 47, 288 and Ikere with a distant 45,611.
Ado had 59,480 votes, Ijero 26, 589; Ikole 26, 252 with Ikere at a distant 25,889. There is the fear that irrespective of the contradictions, if APC picks a candidate from Ikere, the votes will be shared decisively between the APC and the PDP whose candidate is also from Ikere.  Picking a candidate elsewhere apart from Ado will strengthen Fayose who is waiting in the wings to pick his deputy from Ado-Ekiti. The only way to neutralize him is to pick the APC candidate from Ado.
Primary elections are often determined first by kinsman loyalty of delegates. As it is, Ado presents a strategic posting as the most audacious bride. While Ikere has not produced a governor in Ekiti, it
has produced the governor of old Ondo State. Ado has neither produced the Governor of Ekiti nor the governor of old Ondo State. Most of most significant towns have cultural and blood-bound ties with Ado.
The cultural institutions in Ado historically has unprecedented network across the towns and villages in Ekiti which has been energized since Ojudu joined the race for overwhelming victory. It must be noted that in the past, Ado often deliberately play the role of the kingmaker by refusing to produce a governorship aspirant, but this time around, the entire city  with a zeal and determination never before seen, has chosen Senator Ojudu as the one and only aspirant on the platform of the APC.
Good enough for the APC, Ojudu has a rich history of radical struggle, consistency, bravery, iron-cast nerve and infact, he is the lion that can scare stiff Fayose and his agent.  He performed this same feat in
2011 when he scored 64,000 plus votes in the Senatorial election dusting Fayose almost thrice. Certainly, the clincher of the APC will be to pick its candidate from Ado-Ekiti. Omission of this calculation will be
another costly error that may plunge the APC into another whirlwind of regret and defeat. Fayose is like a vulture, hovering to see if on May 5, APC will bring forth another carcass in the form of a weakling that
will give him another cheap victory.
A candidate from Ado is one sure way to cut down the PDP like grass and make it wither like a flower without nurture. The APC leadership has the choice to make or mar.
 
By Michael Akinsuyi
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Opinion

Rivers APC Crisis: I Advocate for Peace and Not Attack as Way Out

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Russia

Politics like life is always in a state of constant evolution. The way that things were, back in 1999, changed in 2007. Governor Odili and Omehia found this out the hard way. Since then, things did not stop changing and it’s now a lot clearer to many, that power of incumbency alone, is not enough to guarantee outcomes. Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing. Not even second terms. More and more people are beginning to have a say. Odili did not choose his successor, Amaechi suffered a similar fate, let us see what happens to Wike.

I’ve been known to speak my mind in the past. Today is no exception. I’m doing so today, not to offend, but to reveal a foundation and maybe even a possible solution. Today I just want to talk about the opposition in the opposition and by that I mean the current politics of APC in the Treasure base of our nation, my own dear Rivers state. Let me start by saying that my own position on recent events is already on record. Though I stand with Amaechi, on two distinct occasions since Hon Igo Aguma’s open letter to the APC National Chairman, I have stated that even though I do not agree with some of what he said, nor his approach, my default position is still peace, not to attack Igo and defend my leader. There are many others who can do that. That’s easy. The position for peace is the one that is very hard. Wayne Dyer once said, “Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” Talking Peace with people you don’t agree with is not easy, but that is what peace talks are designed for. They require big doses of patience, temperament, maturity, forgiveness, love and plenty selflessness. Not a long list of qualifications many have time for anymore. But Igo and Emma are my friends, and Amaechi is my brother and our Leader. We have to find a way.

The Bible in Matthew 5:9 said “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” In the Bible, this is the last of the 7 beatitudes Jesus handed down to us that define the character of a Christian. It is also the hardest. I am reminded by something Thomas Watson said. He said “Satan kindles the fire of contention in the hearts of men and stands back and warms himself in the heat.”

My exact words in response to Igo Aguma’s letter were: “Granted not all of what he said will go down well with many of us, but he spoke some hard truths and the minds of many silent others. As leaders we must learn to listen. Roy T Bennet once said that just as you should not let compliments get to your head, don’t let criticism get to your heart.”

I then went on to say that “I don’t want another disagreement to lead into a crisis and so on my part I will work for unity and a new style of conflict resolution. We are where we are today, as a party and as a state because of choices that we made yesterday. We can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.”

So there you have it. My objective is a different result from 2015 & 2019. Not a peace built on any terms. That would be way too easy, unrealistic and completely unsustainable. The peace I am referring to is a lot more sustainable. I want to see if we can co-exist. Make no mistake, I see no short term reconciliation here. The mistrust is deep seated and well founded. On all sides. Hence I must say it upfront, such a peace will be very hard to achieve. Many of the leading actors are pretty stubborn.  They either don’t mind seeing APC lose in Rivers state again for a third time or they believe 2015 and 2019 cannot be repeated in 2023. I for one am not familiar with what it is that they are drinking. In the case of those who are the optimists, I also want some. A close look at Psalm 55 reveals a deep insight into what we are all going through. I implore us all to read it.

Many well meaning people frown at peace as an option. That is because to some, they are tired of betrayal. A war is now their way forward. While for some, peace means giving up something impossible. There are many benefits in war. There are many reasons why good people make wrong choices. It’s important not to generalize or to be too quick to be judgmental. On all sides. Let me start by explaining why these options are not necessarily the way forward and why we absolutely need peace. This advisory is for all of us.

There are 3 main reasons:

1. We have powerful enemies outside of the state and inside the state. Not everyone can love you, but why make it automatic? Stretch out your hand for friendship whenever you can, at least on your own terms. One, you lose nothing. Two, any image of you as the unfriendly type, unwilling to embrace peace, evaporates. This is politics. Perception matters. I learnt that from Atiku.

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2. Your powerful enemies inside the state will join forces with your powerful enemies outside the state. Such a collaboration is not what you want to encourage. I admit it has already started, but you should be reducing their numbers and the impact, not underestimating it or even adding to it. Peace plans include such strategies. Never take any thing or any one for granted. I learnt that from Tinubu.

3. Today’s politics is edging towards consensus building and less of the carry go. The vocal minority are more protected in this government than ever before. If the electoral act is amended, expect many more exhibitions of democracy and more examples of unbelievable compromise. In other words do not underestimate anybody. In 2015 and 2019, APC in Rivers state did. Two different powers at the centre yet, same result. We not only underestimated our opponents in other parties, we underestimated our opponents inside our party. Especially at the National level. I learnt that from INEC.

The price of war is higher for us. We pay more in so many ways on many different fronts relative to our political opponents. Even if you compare us with Wike. We don’t need to. Even before 2007 it’s been one war or the other, all at the national level. With local players doing their bidding. Conscious or not.

Their aim is to show we’re disunited and we have been helping  them out by proving it. On the TV, with our back and forth abuses, on the radio, in newspapers, on social media and in beer parlors. Not just here in Rivers state, but across the region, nation and everywhere. The state of Rivers is now synonymous with conflict. Who is this truly helping? Who is it empowering? Certainly not us. Our supporters are in penury. If 10% of the money we spend on war was invested in our supporters, we would all be in a better place today. That I learnt that from the media. In all its forms.

Let me address a few myths:

1. They are sponsored. Don’t have the facts, so I cannot speak to it with authority either way. But if they are, prove it and discredit them with a neutral audience, if necessary. Otherwise consider that they may have their own agenda and are looking for a sponsor. By making them an issue, you increase their value. Many a good thing is achieved without noise while children are sleeping. In the end, we can agree to disagree. Liverpool and Everton football teams can’t stand each other but they live in the same city and conduct themselves in public as professionals on the field. Politics too is a game. Of interests. It is possible to have opposition in your space and still co-exist. If you beat them fair and square at a congress or an election, life will not need to come to an end. Why can’t we focus on that? Especially if you are a Liverpool.

2. They are irrelevant. Really? Is that not what put us where we are today? I have no doubt in my mind that Amaechi is the most popular politician in Rivers state as I speak. Anyone with a different opinion is welcome to visit a psychiatrist if he or she pleases. So why has his personal choice not won the elections in 2015 and 2019? Is it because he himself did not run? No. After all we made it about him. Less so in 2019 yes, but still. The answer my friends was it’s because we underestimated the opposition, especially within us and the key relevance of our institutions. Everybody knows someone and indirectly, information is power. I learnt very early on in my political life that it’s not always about numbers. It’s about relationships. Ask Hilary Clinton. She had 3 million more votes than Donald Trump. But who ended up as President? She underestimated him. Never make that mistake. That I learnt from my father. He told me not to believe in my breakfast until I’ve eaten it.

3. The other one is “Your people are with you.” Maybe. But this constant war war war is simply designed to shake foundations. China avoids wars while they build strength. Not because they are scared, but because they are smart. If one can avoid a war, let’s do so. Wars will come eventually. At least in politics it’s a minimum of once every four years. That’s more than enough. If you end up spending more and more on wars and yet more wars, how do you lift your people out of poverty at the same time? You can’t. Therefore you will struggle and by that, you will struggle to keep them. The APC in Rivers state has no elected official in a position to cater for the grassroots. Appointees are underwhelming. Yet the vast majority of our supporters stick with us. Let’s not take this for granted. Perhaps they know that a Minister is not like a Governor. Perhaps they have learnt to fend for themselves or perhaps they just have faith. Maybe all of the above. For us to take Rivers politics to the next level, we have to measure our progress by how many more we can add to our fold and not how many we can keep from leaving. I learnt that from Amaechi.

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My sense of observation is even more keen now that I’m recovering and seeing things from a distance. I’m convinced that the biggest challenge we have is internal. There’s an old African proverb that says, if there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm. Many of us appreciate this, but few of us take the time to really think about what it actually means. If we did, we will not be surprised to know that you are the greatest enemy of you. Once we begin to see sense in that, we start to open our mind to other people’s varied contributions because we recognize that new ideas contain new solutions. This is what we need to do more of. God did not give us two ears and one mouth for nothing. He expected us to listen more than we speak. I still remember Obama in 08, in his first election victory speech to Americans, saying he will “listen more, especially when we  disagree”. I was there on that cold night in Chicago to hear him say the words. Are we here, not also sophisticated enough? Obama taught us a lot of things. Politics is one of them.

I see brothers and sisters on the same side of a divide even now, attacking each other because of different views on how a similar problem should be approached, only to forget about the problem and commence to labelling each other as to who is more loyal. To what end? It doesn’t make any sense!! Unless you give different views an opportunity to be heard, you will only hear the view of yes men and women. How does that help us? Healthy debate is the birth place of good ideology. That I learnt from both Amaechi and Alaibe. Igo and Emma spoke the minds of even people who are abusing them today. I know this because I speak to all. They won’t go public, because they see how Igo and Emma are treated. While the treatment is expected by virtue of the way Igo and Emma chose to go public, we miss an opportunity to learn very valuable lessons if we simplify that event.

Conclusion: Somebody in Abuja, preferably the Senate President, should call a meeting of the key players, to iron out a way forward, devoid of legal hindrances and anti party activities. The work before a meeting is called, should be just as thorough, as the work required after it. This is politics, so conflict is second nature, as is suspicion. No need to surprise anyone. Consult before making the first calls please. Rivers state APC has only one Leader. Nobody here denies it. Let’s accord him that respect as he has earned it, while respecting others too. In my opening statement I said take no one for granted.

While we wait for Abuja to do the needful, let us all in our own way, apply ourselves to a new approach where finally the true enemy of our progress is tackled. I joined APC to help them win because I believe in the men at the top that run their affairs and I believe that compared to the PDP, they are the only other option out there, there is no choice. While we succeeded nationally, here in Rivers state, we did not. We must all learn from history or else we again will be doomed to repeat it. Our opponents have sympathizers. Why? Let us do a self assessment and make changes were possible. Engage new leaders, engineer more grassroots activity, invest more in young people, position new field generals, reward hard workers and recruit new members. This might save us a lot in war funding, media expenditure and legal bills. If we’ve considered the above and still can’t make progress, then we can go to war. In such circumstances, I will be one of the ones in the front. Some of the people making the most noise now could not deliver their LGAs in the last election and have little or no electoral value in the next one. Let’s be careful in choosing not only our fights but also our fighters.

Thank you and let us pray that this is indeed a Happy New Year.

To be continued ….

Prince Tonye T.J.T Princewill

APC, Rivers state

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Opinion

Is President Buhari mismanaging Nigeria?

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ASUU

By
abiodun KOMOLAFE

It bears repeating that Nigeria’s continued existence will be at risk if the rich and the wealthy are not receptive to the clear warning of anger and poverty-induced disillusionments in the land.

First, Aisha Buhari’s warning that most of Nigeria’s leaders, “as a result of a long time of injustice done to” the mass of the people, “cannot go to” their “villages and sleep with”their “two eyes closed” is an indication that governance in Nigeria has failed; nothing is working! Her passionate plea to Muhamadu, her husband; and those working with him to “fear God, and … know that, one day, we will all return to God and account for our deeds here on earth” paints a clear picture of how the application or implementation of policy recommendations and remedies of the Buhari-led government have so far fared! Of course, that’s the wife of the sitting president of Nigeria, questioning the relevance, effectiveness or efficiency of Public Administration through government policy directives and their implementations. This is the question on the minds of the common man and woman on the street!

If reports from across Nigeria are also anything to go by, then, one can safely say that the man in the saddle as governor of Oyo State is a very likable person! No sooner had he mounted the saddle of governance than he started doing what truly portrayed him as not only being in charge but also as one helmsman who understands why he was elected to govern the over-6 million-strong population. And, within a few months in office, Seyi Makinde has demonstrated that strategic governance does not reside in building an empire or throwing money around but in building a team and being pragmatic in allocating resources to where they are needed most, in the most appropriate manner! He has proved that responsible leadership is not about the administration of an enclave. Rather, it is about the efficient management of the institution of the state; not even a public institution, because public institutions are located within the institution of the state.

Makinde won the election, not because the then ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state didn’t have laudable ideas but because its handlers were so full of themselves that they didn’t know how to sell those ideas to the electorate. GSM, as he is fondly called by his admirers, has therefore shown that it could happen anywhere! Go to Oyo now: the state is working and the people are happy! Makinde loves his people and his people appreciate him in return! While drawing inspirations from successful countries like Japan, which attained greatness through focus “on intellectual development”, the governor attributed the scourge of poverty in Nigeria to leadership failure. He insisted that “how we organize ourselves and how we utilize our God-given “natural resources” is the only thing that can “take us out of poverty.”

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The foregoing painted, in graphic relief, the unfolding-yet-foreboding cataclysmic nature of Nigeria’s fragile democracy. Even, the aristocratic Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, for the first time, saw poverty in its garnished form when he bluntly called for a paradigmatic shift in our applied economic theories, and an overhaul of our public administration system.

The perception of many Nigerians today is that, once the president reels out favourable policy statements, promises and intentions of government (that may never be delivered), government goes to sleep and everybody is on his or her own. Whether or not God be for us all, henceforth, is entirely a different story! For instance, the president promised on assumption of office to recover all Chibok and other Nigerians from Boko Haram’s captivity but, unfortunately, the story, as we speak, has gone from bad to worse. Years on, the Leah Sharibus of Nigeria have been languishing in the terrorists’ den for being who they are. The Emir of Potiskum, Umaru Bubaram Bauya, recently escaped death by the whiskers; and that was after no fewer than four members of his entourage had been brutally murdered by the marauders. More Nigerians are being beheaded. Then, and, as always, provocative, medicine-after-death, ‘all whip, no hay’ Press Statements from the Presidency that is obviously far removed from the people would follow!

So, where do we go from here, because it appears as if effective governance has taken flight? As things stand, politicians are just muddling through! Our policies are neither working nor pragmatic. So, nobody is sure of anything! Like laboratory rats, useful only for experiments, failure to source a creative distance from where we currently pitch our tent, in addition to poor welfare that is painfully customized to suit poverty in our country, has stolen the common man’s heart. So also, the crestfallen status of the Rule of Law and its negative essence has become more palpable in Nigeria’s socio-political firmament. Is it any wonder then why “we have abundance of” natural resources that are still being wasted”?

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Staying with the philosophy of nationhood, that Buhari’s erstwhile persuasive ‘body language’ has failed Nigerians says a lot about the conspicuous challenges of the Nigerian state as a chronically ill society with patronage, patrimony and preference. Available indices are also unhelpful! For instance, Nigeria’s economy is projected to “have a suppressed economic performance at around 2% by 2020”, due, primarily, to government’s failure “to fix structural constraints.” And, unless bold steps are taken to address, especially, the “pace of growth and job creation”, the number of Nigerians stuck in poverty is also most likely to account “for a quarter of all people living in extreme poverty worldwide.” Evidence before the world has shown that Nigeria’s security architecture has collapsed. It is even being alleged in some quarters that we are using anticorruption to incentivize corruption. Is it any surprise why there is no war in Nigeria but there is also no peace; why motion is in excess supply while movement is in wanton scarcity?

Again, what happened and where did we go wrong? Why are our leaders engaging in ‘Marlian’ rigmaroles in ways that do not offer us a valuable anchor to believe that they understand even the basic socioeconomic issues that have unfortunately become existential threats to our unity? What are the roles of Nigeria’s Ahitophels and political janjaweeds, whose counsels are never destined to yield to persuasion or dialogue, in all of these? Above all, when last did we feel safe in Nigeria, irrespective of the differences in governments and administrations over the years?

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!

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Opinion

Why We Didn’t Involve Politicians In Our Documentary-Andy Chukwu

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Andy Chukwu

The Ambassadors for Voice of Change Initiative Nigeria (AVICN) is a non-profit making organisation to initiate change in the national life of Nigerians generally while changing the narrative about the ethnic and religious crisis in Nigeria. With Clem Ohaneze as President and Andy Chukwu as his Vice, the NGO has achieved a handful including an enlightenment campaign in Secondary Schools in Gombe State and a Peace Concert in Jos, the capital of Plateau State. Recently, AVICN established in 2007, unveiled its recently shot documentary, a campaign on national peace and unity. Shot by its Vice President, it is aimed at showcasing the love still inherent among Nigerians of different tribes despite the occasional differences. Andy Chukwu spoke about what motivated the documentary, his experience while shooting, and many more in this interview with Lukmon Akintola.

Tell us what motivated this move.

As a group, we wanted to change the narrative that Muslims are killing Christians in the north-east or that Christians are killing Muslims in the west. We wanted a total re-orientation of our lifestyle as Nigerians to showcase the fact that there is still love in this country; that Christians and Muslims still reside within a community without fear of attacks. We are not saying that there are no problems, but sometimes it is exaggerated.

An actor turned director, the natural course would have been to tell the story via a movie, why a documentary?

A movie is a movie and a documentary is a documentary. Some issues are better treated as a documentary than as a movie. A movie is purely entertainment, but a documentary is more of an educational material that one can keep for many years, even though you can keep movies. If we take this issue as a movie, we may not be able to cover it, it is acting, people won’t understand it, but here when we are talking to the Emir of Bichi you are seeing him. If I am talking to a mechanic on the street, you can see him, you are not seeing me. So, it’s not Andy Chukwu the actor or Ejike Asiegbu the actor, no, these are fellow Nigerians saying it the way it is. So, I think that issues like this can be best treated as a documentary than a movie. I could have used the television as an actor or a filmmaker would and say this thing is not good and we should not do it. But going to the states I went to, at least covering the six geopolitical zones, talking to the people myself, it was more direct. For instance, when I went to Calabar, after talking to the Obong, he said my son, don’t leave Calabar without going to Gogobiri. When you get to Gogobiri ask them to show you a mosque and a church built side by side, just one track road, the Muslims are praying and the Christians are there praying. They come around, they shake themselves, and they hug themselves. If you look at that scenario, you ask yourself what is this religious crisis all about?

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Travelling the six geopolitical zones must have been challenging, tell us what you went through.

The biggest was security issues. Travelling from Enugu to Calabar, and from Calabar to Kano. The day someone called my sister to tell her that she saw me in Kano State, she started crying. She was asking me if I wanted to kill myself or I wanted people to kill me there. I had to tell her that the person who called her was living in Kano with her husband and children, why is she not dead? So, those are some of the challenges. Your good friends, relatives will try to discourage you, and then some of the news you hear will also affect you. For instance, when I wanted to leave from Abuja to Bauchi State, and I couldn’t get a flight. The only flight I could get would land in Gombe State, and I would have to take off from Gombe State again, I said no. I decided to go by road. Apart from that, people were ready to assist whenever I call them, they were always ready to assist.

How long did it take to complete the documentary?

The whole project was between August and October; that is three months. If you add post-production which was done in November, it would be four months.

Platforms like this are often used for political gains, is that what this is all about?

Well, if this would make me the governor of my state, then to God be the glory, but that is not the essence. The Ambassadors for Voice of Change Initiative Nigeria (AVICN) is not a profitmaking organisation. So, most of the things we do, we power ourselves, individual efforts. So, the funds for this came from us, as individuals and as an organisation.

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None of the people you spoke within this documentary was a politician, was this deliberate?

It was. We wanted to keep politicians out of it because once you have them in a project like this, it will be misconstrued and we didn’t want that. So, we deliberately avoided them.

One thing we need as Nigerians is an attitudinal change, how far do you think this project will go in that direction?

This is going to be a continuous process. Of course, what you have seen here couldn’t have been all I gathered going to six states. We have more than enough content, what we have released is just thirty minutes. After now, we are going to release another thirty minutes and another thirty minutes. So, it’s going to be continuous. We also want to partner with other Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO), agencies, religious organisations and bodies to see how they can disseminate this information through their organisation.

Of all the states you visited, which did you enjoy the most?

Sincerely speaking, I enjoyed myself in the six states. Enugu is almost like my state, I am from Ebonyi, but I know everywhere in Enugu. Every other filmmaker knows Enugu like you know your town. So, I had a lot of people to take me around and help me achieve certain things. And then Bauchi, in those days, people from my area lived in Bauchi. So, going to Bauchi was like meeting people I had not seen in a long time, and they were ready to help me. The young man who introduced himself as Chika, that guy was with me from the beginning of this project, everywhere I went to. In Kano, the Emir of Bichi was very nice, and a whole lot of other guys I met there. In Calabar, a colleague who I contacted before I went there made me enjoy my stay, sincerely speaking. Lagos is where I reside, so I didn’t have any problem.

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