by Samuel Onyekwere
President Buhari is anti-entertainment –Bob Manuel Udokwu
Bob Manuel Udokwu is the Special Adviser to Governor Willy Obianor of Anambra State on Creative Media, Movie and the Entertainment Industry. He speaks to Samuel Onyekwere on various issues concerning the industry and the recent xenophobic attack on non-South African nationals in South Africa.
What is your take on this xenophobic attack? Are you pleased with the way the government has reacted so far?
The federal government is going through diplomatic channels to see how the problem can be sorted out because Nigeria and South African have come a long way. I think the government should have acted faster and they should have been more firm in the sense that Nigeria and Nigerians’ have become targets all over the world.
If we have to keep telling ourselves that we are playing this big brother role, especially in Africa, we should be able to stamp our feet down when such things happen to Nigerians wherever they are. Going through diplomatic channel is okay, but I think Nigeria should have stamped her feet to say ‘enough is enough!’.
Were you surprised President Buhari won a second term and are you expecting something better?
Indications are that it’s not getting better. President Buhari said, immediately after he was declared winner, that the second tenure is going to be tougher than the first. It’s in the media, it’s not as if it’s Bob Manuel saying it.
The man wants us to suffer more for whatever reason I don’t know. When you say things are getting better, what are the indicators you see on ground? In the first tenure, he waited six months or more before the angels he was waiting for as ministers came down.
Now, he has told us that he was going to appoint those he knows very well and we waited again for his super angels and they have been appointed. They have not hit the ground running. In fact, one of the ministers after his appointment said, he was appointed into a ministry he knew nothing about.
What does it show? Gross incompetence of leadership. What I see is a country that will continue to slide backwards because the leadership, as it stands now, has no answer to the problems of Nigeria. For four years, he kept blaming the previous administration.
But if you play back their campaign rhetoric’s, it was all about accusations of incompetence against the previous government. They applied all kinds of lies against a much focused government through social media to abuse the minds of the people. So, power was taken away from a man who was focused and knew what he was doing well: a man that was setting Nigeria on a track of respect and progress.
I don’t see the indicators that things are going to be better. Things are worse and it’s going to get worse. There is so much insecurity in the country and one of the things that worked for this administration was the impression that a military general will bring his experience to bear in this security situation, but the general has not done anything.
Does it mean there is no hope for the entertainment industry under this circumstance?
First, the president is somebody who is anti -entertainment. Nobody can point to any single artiste, musician, actor or creative person, even from his birth place of Daura or Katsina and say the President is the fan of this person.
He is somebody that abhors entertainment and thinks that you guys are just a bunch irrelevant people. So, how do you think he will help this industry? It’s out there. When the former president was in office, in my presence, he mentioned that when he was in the university, he loved the music of Bongos Ikwue.
He took some of us as a prize possession of this country. He went with some of us on his foreign trips, some of his foreign trips, he identified that these are proud Nigerians and Africans in the entertainment industry. Tell me one current Nigerian artiste that you would say our current president likes his/her music or like his film or admires his creativity. Everything is in the public domain. Today the practitioners are suffering.
Can you update us on the entertainment sector of Anambra state that you are handling?
In contrast to the president, Governor Willy Obianor likes entertainment and he has taken practical steps to support this because creativity is a common denominator between the young and old in Anambra State. For instance, what used to be Ministry of Sports was changed to Ministry of Youth Empowerment.
Of course, the commissioner is a young man and he is passionate about how we harness the abundant talents in Anambra State. Just last week, we had Anambra musical show. There are so many things on the pipeline in the ministry to create platform for people with talent not just music and acting, sculptor, craft and others, it’s domiciled in the ministry. I don’t want to open up on some of the things we are doing because I know that some states might steal the idea.
In 2015, the state held the biggest innovative concert and that was assembling 10 powerful pop acts of the 1970’s. On that night, of Easter 2015, bands like: Semi Colon, Winds, Apostles and One world among others… 10 of them played on the same stage that night.
Some ex- Rangers players that were part of the victorious Green Eagles that won the 1980 African Cup of Nations were honored that night.
Pal Akalaonu, one of the greatest producers of the 70’s and 80’s, who produced most of the bands we mentioned was also honored on that night. Chika Okpala, aka Zebrudaya, of the defunct Masquerade was also honored.
You see, our people were coming from despondency, destruction, loss of lives, hunger and starvation which characterized the civil war, the Eastern part of the country were in dire need of healing . So, these men used music, drama and sports to heal. In addition, Rangers was winning those from the other side of Nigeria.
Governor Obianor was mindful of all these things. Most of these stars have been forgotten, but people did not know that they were still capable of playing music. They were happy to be accorded such respect. I don’t want to delve into the plans we have on ground right now.
How easy has it been juggling between two homes?
It’s not easy, but the experience I have had being a much sort after artistes, I have always been out of home in different parts of the country and outside the country. My family and I are already used to the sacrifice, for the greater good of the society. Today, I am contributing my own quota to put smiles on the faces of people in the entire world, even when things are hard.
I think it’s much more than money, because for you to make people happy, it’s something that is priceless. So, my family has accepted that their breadwinner has to go to work.
In addition, being appointed into the government is also recognition by the authority that what I am doing is a sincere, honest and hard work that needs to be encouraged. And that I have what it takes to contribute to the political development of my state.
Let me also add this, I have just finished working on my first studio music album, recorded in Orits Wiliki’s studio. Right now, Ortiz Wiliki is putting finishing touches to it, he is doing the mastering of the song and the genre is soul. Nigerians should wait patiently for the album to come out.
It will speak to the situation we are facing in this country. It will speak to consciousness, to those who are in authority and it will speak to the masses. That music will change things in this country. For acting, you need a crowd of people to bring the story to bear. For music, you don’t need a crowd. The conviction of what you have in mind is to change the society for better. When the music comes out people will sit up and think about this country.
When are we expecting the album?
I told you that Oritz Wiliki and the sound engineer are working on the final stage which is the mixing and mastering of the song. I have done my bit, its left for them. When it’s ready for release, I will let you know.#Follow us on social media