CHARLES AWURUM: Artistes are supposed to be the society mirror



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CHARLES AWURUM: Artistes are supposed to be the society mirror

Comic actor Charles Awurum has been gracing the screen for years. The actor who until the Supreme Court removed Emeka Ihedioha as governor of Imo State, was the Special Assistant on Entertainment. He speaks with SAM ANOKAM on his four months experience as SA, his fight with Bobrisky, what he is currently doing among other topical issues.



 

You were the Special Adviser to Governor Emeka Ihedioha for four months before the supreme court thought otherwise. what were you able to do within that short period of time?



It was a very short period. We didn’t have in mind that it was going to be short but we were able to impact the state positively. When we assumed office, I discovered there were problems among the guilds. For instance, the actors guild have been having a problem that has lasted for eight years. There were two factions which the then governor Rochas Okorocha intervened but couldn’t settle. I brought both factions together and sorted out the whole issue and they were all happy.

I went around other guilds like the producers, directors, musicians, Disk Jockeys, etc – I tried to bring all entertainers together. We started on a clean slate. I felt that entertainment was only happening only in Owerri the capital city, I then decided to shift some of the entertainment to the local governments. We did all of these and started to bring in people from outside the state even in the diaspora.

We started talent hunt round the state in the 27 local governments so as to finalise in December but it wasn’t to be. It wasn’t easy. When I got in some people felt the governor brought in somebody that is not based in Owerri and they needed somebody who has been in the state. They forgot that I have been in Owerri and worked with the Art council. I also worked with the IBC (Imo Broadcasting Corporation) for a long time before I left Owerri. Then somebody feeling he was appointed before me as a Personal Assistant to Ihedioha, felt my appointment would subdue his and started carrying campaign of calumny against me.

When people realized it was not true, he became mad. Though he was there before me he was then working for the governor as a band man. I was going through a thick atmosphere but I was able to make productions. If you came to the state during my short but eventful time, you would enjoy Imo. The governor and the people were happy. If we had been given a longer time, Imo would have been something else now. But the supreme court decided on their own to take Imo away from Ihedioha and that is going to do a lot of harm not to Ihedioha but to the great people of Imo who saw light coming. If you saw the change in Imo within seven months, you would know that the governor had a keen interest in making Imo a great place for people to stay. I shouldn’t keep quiet because an artist is supposed to be the mirror of society and not because I worked for the PDP government. When you see the truth you say it. The judiciary did not do well. They decided on their own to destroy Imo.

The new governor might perform but everybody knows that Ihedioha was moving at a very fast pace in developing the state and the entertainment sector was going high. Usually, in this clime, when you give appointment, people believe they are going there to grab money so, anything you do from stopping them from grabbing that money they would want your neck. That was exactly what happened to me. But my intention was to work with the spirit the governor came with – develop Imo the much I can in entertainment. This disruption was not good for the people of Imo state.

The disruption notwithstanding, what are those things you continue to do personally that you would have done for the state via entertainment if given more time?

I am an actor, producer and director. I will be doing my productions. I can go to Imo state to shoot my movies. Then, I had to speak with some of these marketers, producers to come back to Imo for us to work together, to see how we can grow our people. The talent in Imo is enormous. When I did a talent hunt in Abia state some years back, I went to the 17 local governments and I saw raw talents wasting.

I wanted to bring up the young ones join them with the stars and grow them. Now, I still have the opportunity but it would not be that big. I can only do what I can do on my own. My intention was to push productions down to Imo state.

Ever since you started as a comic actor, Nollywood had not really had more of your likes coming up, why is this so?

At the time we were up there, most of the productions you know usually have up and coming comic acts supplementing the like of myself, Mr. Ibu, Victor Osuagwu and the rest. They were allowed to express themselves.

Nobody oppressed anybody and our duty is not even to train people, it is the producers’ duty. Our own is to be called to come and act. Anybody that is telling you that we didn’t groom others should know that it is not our fault.  The truth is that we decided not to go with what is happening now. When a production would be done with N200,000 and people will not listen to you not to go and do that production. They want to be stars, they want to be known but in the end, those productions you do will not even sell. Before, somebody gets N200,000 to shoot a movie, they will come and beg you, this time they don’t even beg again, it is the actors that go to beg them. They will not be paid, fed, given accommodation. How they suffer throughout the production is not their business.

And that is why you don’t see most of us on sets now. If you don’t pay me what I’m worth, I will not act. There is no need forming everybody knows you and you don’t have the money. Like what the Actors Guild President is doing now, if he carries on this way, things will surely change. This is the first time I am seeing anything like this. If nothing is done now to change the attitude of producers, things will spoil. You see actors going out to steal because they are not making money yet, they don’t become that star. When you produce a sub-standard film it cannot sell. We have done our best. There are some people I even brought up. They are now popular but I don’t want to mention names. We did our best.

Sometime ago, you got involved in a controversy with Bobrisky, what actually happened?

I was not really fighting Bobrisky. I was trying to let the society know as well as addressing those producers who think they can make money through things that cannot help the youth. When you see somebody that is not supposed to be an inspiration, you want to make that person a role model. A role model to who? We have some of them who never wanted to bring up their head but because of Bobrisky, they started to spring up. I felt bad when I saw a production with Bobrisky in it. We shoot films where we use men to behave like women and we all know he is a man but not somebody that has changed his sex, behavior and you want the young ones to emulate such person.

Once you start using her that way, you breed more. It is an offence in this country. Everybody knows this and still they keep quiet. Nobody wants to talk and even those that made the law are not saying anything. He is wrongly influencing the up and coming generation.

I really was not happy about it. I have to say my mind. Fortunately, that reduced his being into production. Like they say, if he dies and there is heaven and he goes there, God would not know if he is the person He created. Our society is not the western world. We have our culture. I also shouted when they started porn in Nigeria. It is not good. Our society does not approve that. You will see children who do not know what they are entering into get lured into it. And the producer will be happy making your money? I will always talk.

That Bobrisky case made me mad. The brother of the producer of that movie who is my friend called to ask why I was attacking Bobrisky, I said bros, first of all I didn’t know you are the owner of that movie. Secondly, you should not do things like that just because you want to make money.

 Again, when Ihedioha was removed by the supreme court, popular comedian turned lawmaker, Uche Ogbuagu began to say some things against him, what came to your mind when you heard it?

Yes, I heard everything. What came to my mind was that politicians are not to be trusted. You don’t need to be a human being to be a politician. A human being who you call your friend who you eat and drink with then, all of sudden something happens to him, you abandon him and start saying things about him. Even if you abandon him and keep quiet, it is a different thing. When you start saying certain things, people know it is not true. Uche Ogbuagu is my very good friend and brother but I was not happy with what happened because I know the relationship between him and Ihedioha. If there is a problem, Ogbuagu have access to the governor and the governor respects him. I don’t know where that came from. At the time our governor was in pains, most of his friends left him. Some of his brothers also abandoned him. It is just a picture of the world. With Ihedioha’s case, use it to know what can happen to you tomorrow. I know how good Ihedioha was to all of us. Most of our politicians are not human beings. They are just there for their personal gains not for those people who voted them in.

With what you have done, with your antecedent, if this current governor calls you to continue what you are started, would you accept it?

I don’t think I will. Not because of anything but I needed to rest from what I experienced. I needed to sit down and really know what I want. I am not a politician, it really affected me. I love Imo. I can do anything for the state but for now, I need to ask myself some questions. I am on holidays maybe when I return, we can talk with whoever is there.

CHARLES AWURUM: Artistes are supposed to be the society mirror

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