Film maker, Dickson Iroegbu concludes his interview with Dr Uzor Ngoladi as he speaks on the row between his colleagues and Nigeria at 60. Enjoy the excerpts:
Nigeria at 60, how will you assess the creative industry?
The resilience of citizens of Nigeria created what we know today as Nollywood. We came about it out of nothing, without any support whatsoever. We dared to make movies with VHS cameras. My first movie was shot on VHS at a time films were made on celluloid. We told our stories with normal cameras and it worked for us. Nollywood helped to bring a revolutionary angle to the use of digital cameras that we have today. We created the second highest film making industry in the world as regards content. Outside that, the country Nigeria is in a terrible state. Nigeria is like a retrogressive movement. In the last 60 years, we have not made tangible progress. Nations that started with us have gone far ahead of us because Nigeria’s nationhood is a mirage. After 60 years, we are not a nation. Nigeria is like a group of nations doing nationhood business without a memorandum of understanding. That is why people are positioning from different tribes and religions to occupy high offices. If Nigeria was a nation, we will look for the best and not highlight mediocrity. This level of nepotism that exists in our system will not have existed. Sincerely, 60 years after shows that we may have another opportunity to start afresh.
How do we achieve a fresh start?
One way to start afresh is to renegotiate our existence as a nation. Nigeria should be restructured. We can’t continue in the direction we have followed in the past 60 years. There is urgent need to restructure Nigeria at this time. The country must be rejigged. The greatest restructuring that can happen to Nigeria is political. The call for equity, justice and fairness should be sustained. Power must shift to the south east. That will give a sense of belonging to all citizens. It will afford us another opportunity for nationhood. If we don’t do that in 2023, then we will be wasting our time. This country may seize to exist. If we don’t restructure, if we don’t renegotiate, there may not be Nigeria after 2023. There is need for us to take the available opportunity and insist that political power must shift to the south east in 2023. This will bring healing, peace, development and togetherness. You can’t decree unity into existence. Its about how you treat people. Let us allow this political restructuring to happen so that Nigeria’s next 60 years will be captured from that angle.
So, we can’t speak unity into existence?
You cannot declare unity into existence. Unity must be engaged. It is how you treat someone that determines how the person will relate with you. Nigeria is a divided nation that desires to be united. We are not united yet as a country. We have been stretched beyond limit. The only given opportunity is 2023. At 60, we can start the journey towards greatness. Power must shift to the south eastern part of Nigeria if not, this country has no chance of survival. Presidency from the south eastern part of Nigeria will guarantee a chance for Nigeria to flourish again.
What’s is your view about the tribal fight between your colleagues Mike Ezuruonye and Kunle Afolayan?
Well, you cannot place something on nothing. Nollywood cannot exist in isolation. The environment in Nigeria influences Nollywood. The ethnic bias in Nollywood is the same thing obtainable in Nigeria. Nigeria is divided so every sector will also experience what Nigeria represents. How can you have Kannywood, Yorubawood, Igbowood, Asabawood etc? That simply tells you that Nigeria is divided. Nollywood is positioned strategically to unite Nigeria. It is deliberately engaged as a tool to unite us. Television is a mind bender. The content we churn out should discuss the oneness of Nigeria. To see my colleagues come publicly and engage each other from ethnic bias was very disappointing especially the reaction from Mike Ezuruonye. He tried to make a personal issue with Kunle become tribal. They should sort themselves out. The attempt by Mike Ezuruonye to make it an ethnic conflict that exists between two tribes is disappointing. To say that somebody hate a tribe is very wrong. Most of the movies from Kunle Afolayan deliberately captures the attempt to unite Nigeria. There is no film maker that is blinded by ethnic colouration who makes such films. Kunle’s works has a broad view. I don’t agree with Mike that Kunle hates Igbos. Igbo and Yoruba are one. We are from the same womb. If the Yoruba and Igbo come together, Nigeria will experience a quantum leap. I love the mature way Kunle handled the matter. It is left for Mike to prove to his fans that he is not an ethnic bigot. He maybe the person that has ethnic biasness in his craft. It is time for all film makers to come together and make Nigeria great. Until Nigeria moves, Africa will not move. We are the giant of Africa. We owe our nation that duty as influencers not to be seen fighting along ethnic lines. I am using this opportunity to appeal to Mike and Kunle to shelve their swords and engage more productively in creative business. Film making is the best job on earth because we are like God. We see in pictures just like God. It is the best job anybody can do.