The 2023 general elections are just 385 days away.
As the race heats up for the top contenders, a Nollywood actor and comedian, Okon Lagos, whose real name is Imeh Bishop Umoh, has made some salient observations.
On Friday in Lagos, the award-winning actor, who recently turned 40, told PREMIUM TIMES that President Muhammadu Buhari is not Nigeria’s problem.
The comical actor, appointed a Special Assistant to the Governor On Ethical and Social Reorientation in 2016, also spared a thought for Nigerian youth and polity.
PT: With the presidential elections slated for February 18, 2023, what do Nigerians have to do to get it right this time in terms of leadership?
Okon Lagos: For Nigeria to get it right in 2023, we must research and understand democracy, and the right leaders should be in the correct positions.
Everyone’s political participation has to be high, and then I think we should appropriately educate voters on the correct type of leaders. People without PVC should get their PVC, while those registered for PVCs should receive theirs.
Also, we have to look for a leader who has something to offer; I would like someone young.
PT: Why must it be someone young?
Okon Lagos: It is because he would come with a very fresh mind and fresh ideas.
PT: And who comes to mind?
Okon Lagos: No young person has declared interest yet.
PT: Many say APC and PDP are the most significant issues plaguing Nigeria at the moment. Do you agree with them?
Okon Lagos: PDP and APC are not the problems of Nigeria; Nigerians are the problems of Nigeria.
PT: How do you mean?
Okon Lagos: APC and PDP, where do they come from, or did we hire them from another country? hey, are Nigerians.
Both parties are not far from each other; the only difference is the name and logo. These political parties are made up of the same people.
PT: In recent times, some of your colleagues have dabbled into politics. Do you think actors can make good political leaders?
Okon Lagos: Anybody can make a good politician and a good leader. If you accept that anybody can make a good politician and leader, why would It be different for an actor? Most actors are exemplary leaders in various capacities.
PT: Speaking of capacities, you were a Special Assistance to the Akwa Ibom State governor in 2016?
Okon Lagos: Where there is a will, there’s away. Here is a broader way for me, with a strong will.
So I did my best to make sure that I served my state through the opportunity to work as a special adviser to the governor. So, I did my best for my career even though one has to suffer, but at some point, you get to manage both, and you know, I am still in the prime of my career. I am having the time of my life.
PT: Do you have political ambitions in the forthcoming elections or the nearest future?
Okon Lagos: I am very patriotic; I want to see my country moving forward. That’s my only ambition.
PT: You said that the problem of Nigeria is neither APC nor PDP is the problem of Nigeria, rather Nigerians. How do we solve this inherent problem?
Okon Lagos: It will take lots of mental work to solve this. We need some mental reorientation, and we need to unlearn, relearn, and learn some past beliefs. Then, as good citizens, we ought to be ready to do what is correct, regardless of who is watching us. If we all do what we ought to do rightly, we would fix the country and move forward.
PT: What about the change this current administration promised Nigerians?
Okon Lagos: As much as I am not a fan of the current president and his administration, I believe that it would be unjust to link him to most of the things happening in the country. He is not responsible for people selling fake drugs, and he is not responsible for people who drink, get drunk and cause the accident. He is not responsible for the police, who receive bribes and thwarts the cause of justice.
He is not responsible for someone who was awarded a contract but failed to execute the contract and then uses substandard materials to execute projects.
But the ones he is responsible for, I can always tell. He’s not responsible for the insecurity in the streets.
PT: So where does Nollywood come to play with the relearning and learning process?
Okon Lagos: Mind you, Nollywood is a business. The government did not create it. Nollywood just happened.
Nollywood is an experiment that entrepreneurs oversaw as a business. Does it show messages on social merits? Yes, it does, and it’s a privilege and not a right. The truth is that Nollywood has been significantly contributing, and it depends on what moral norms are and how we uphold those values.
Most Nollywood stories are stories with ethics, and they depict the victory of good over evil. They are very corrective and highly descriptive, some of them, and it’s a business. You only supply what the people demand.
PT: What does Nollywood need to grow?
Okon Lagos: Nollywood is getting there. The quality of our movies is increasing, but getting it right is a continuous process and a movie destination. E learn that the top of a mountain is the starting point of another mountain. That’s why I am sure the quality of our films can get even better. They have gotten it right in some aspects, while we are yet to get it right in another aspect.
PT: What aspect has the industry failed?
Okon Lagos: Allocations for actors, this is because when the actor finishes their career and goes back home, they sometimes fall back to nothing. His is certainly not because they were reckless, but there should be some royalties.
PT: Is it the responsibility of the government or AGN?
Okon Lagos: It’s the responsibility of the government. What is the government’s responsibility again?’ to protect lives and properties. The government should give actors royalties because the government didn’t start, and someone was there for something. His person contributed to an aspect of the economy that has brought so much grossing. So I think that’s the least the government should do: give them some form of royalty.
Although the actors guild of Nigeria is trying to conclude with the government on it, I think the government can do more.
PT: What recent projects have you been working on?
Okon Lagos: I have been working on a series of products lately, and I will produce my work, which my writers are finishing.