Sex-for-role is a real phenomenon in Nollywood — Ex-Jonathan’s aide-cum-filmmaker



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Sex-for-role is a real phenomenon in Nollywood — Ex-Jonathan’s aide-cum-filmmaker

Multiple award-winning filmmaker and former President Goodluck Jonathan’s Executive Assistant on Creative Entertainment and Tourism, Dickson Iroegbu, is back with a new flick, The Good Husband. In this interview with PAUL UKPABIO, he discusses the issues that led him into making the movie, the crisis around his family life and the knotty issue of sex-for-role in Nollywood, among others.



You seem to have been out of circulation for some time. What has been happening to you?

I’m still there; just that I haven’t been churning out films like I used to. But I am back now. Sabbatical is allowed in this job, especially when one is plotting the next phase of his life as a filmmaker. And God who is the ultimate filmmaker allows us to enjoy the liberty of His permissive will. Yet He is still in charge of the template we follow. If you go against the template, it will be you now as a person wandering away.



So, for me as a filmmaker, it was the moment for me to look at other expansions to give to my mind, and one of them was how to ensure that the missing link between the people of Nigeria and our leaders is reconnected. So I thought that I needed to look at the direction of politics in Nigeria. You know politicians are like actors, and if you have actors on set without a director, they either over act or under act. So, I realised that one of the major challenges we have in the country today is leadership, that is, poor performance of the actors.

So what do we need to do? We need people who can give sacrificial contribution to nation building. I made the decision then to get into politics and be part of the leadership recruitment process in Nigeria.

You worked with former President Goodluck Jonathan. What was it about?

Of course, I worked with former President Goodluck Jonathan as an Executive Assistant Creative Entertainment and Tourism, Office of the Senior Special Assistant on Youth and Student Matters. We campaigned for GEJ’s (Jonathan’s) reelection in 2015, but things went the way they went and Mr. President decided to save Nigerians by accepting defeat. So, like I said, I didn’t really go away from filmmaking; just that I was not actively churning out films the way I used to. But right now, I am back and I want to make movies that Nigerians and my fans across the globe can relate with.

You said you didn’t leave filmmaking completely. What exactly were you doing in the background?

I have a programme on TV. It is called Nigeria Right Now. It is a current affairs programme showing on AIT. I also went back to the class, attending film festivals to study other filmmakers and to learn the trade better. Filmmaking is a viable business, and all over the world, particularly in America that we are all trying to emulate, no one can ignore the role of filmmakers in the polity. I went for training with the American film industry on how to use motion picture to discuss national development. Television is a mind-bender. You can use filmmaking to shape the society. Deliberately, I have captured all these angles to my slate, and the next move is how to reveal and explore what I have learnt.

I will also say that I went back to the school of life, so that when I make films, Nigerians can relate with them. In my new film, you see life the way it is. How did we get to the point where a husband and wife want to kill themselves? The Good Husband comes with answers to some of the questions that these issues have thrown up. So, it is expected to re-engineer the minds of such conflicting individuals, husbands and wives, who exchange conflicts every day in their marriages.

How did you get the concept for the film?

You know I am a public figure and my story is out there in the public domain. I have had my fair share of conflicts in marriage. I had my fair share of the ups and downs that come with the conflicts therein. Like I said, I went to the school of life and one of them is my family. Family is key and very important to me personally. So within my immediate environment, I faced severe family challenges and the experience inspired me to look into other people’s families, and I found out that lots of families were actually going through about the same things we were going through in our own family. The difference was that people were handling theirs differently. So I told myself this is very important to talk about.

And as a Christian, I went further, because I have a relationship with my Chi (God). Those who know me well will testify that I fear God, although being in showbiz makes people appear like Satan itself. But I fear God.

Are you sure the story in your new flick is not really about you?

(Laughs) I am a man. I am married. I am in a marriage. I am not different. I have seen what others have seen in marriages. Like I said, I’ve had my own fair share of marriage and the conflicts that come with it. However, have I survived it? Yes. Did I learn lessons? Yes, there were a lot of lessons learnt. Are there ways to avoid reoccurrence of events that took us to that wilderness period? Yes, if you avoid these loopholes like the ones I have reeled out now, things will work out.

Clearly, of course, it has something to do with my personal life. But it’s not particularly about my personal life; it’s in everyone’s life. I tried to do a work whereby everyone who is married will see himself or herself in it.

Can you share with us one or two of the conflicts you went through in marriage?

My new movie is not centered solely on my own personal experience in marriage. However, my crashed marriage in 2009 did inspire the idea of making an all-time classic. The trouble in most marriages is lack of communication. This has always been a major snag, and that was the case with mine. I was relatively young when I got married in 2003. I was 25 plus, and my carrier as a filmmaker, of course, was just unfolding and very rapidly too. Things were looking very good for me in my career, but the pressure of work and not having time for my spouse became a major challenge.

Simply put, suspicion and lack of trust I’d say ruined a lot of things for us. And because we never really dated, we never knew each other that much. My wife couldn’t reconcile with my always being on location and studio, and all that. We were not friends. Therefore, my advice would be, don’t just marry who you love, rather, marry your friend, because when love fades away, only friendship can sustain the marriage.

So to a large extent, the film’s concept was derived from the happenstances around your life…

Yes, with the inspiration I got during my wilderness period, during my marriage challenges, I went further to ask God for direction about marriage, because God made marriage. It was not made by man. God established marriage by himself. Adam did not complain to God in the Garden of Eden. While he was naming the animals, doing the work that God had sent him to do, he never complained for one day. But God saw that Adam was alone, not lonely, and God saw that and cast Adam into a deep sleep. And when the guy woke up and saw Eve, he said, ‘This is the flesh of my flesh and the bone of my bone.’

So, the Maker of heaven and earth made marriage, and my understanding of why he made marriage is for us to have a better environment and society, because communities start from families, and from there it begins to expand to the society and all that. So, if we face the things that are happening in Nigeria today, including the kind of leadership we have, we could trace it down to the family unit, and you will find out where the whole thing disconnected. So I chose to do a film that comes from the premise of a divine inspiration to discuss issues that people face in marriages.

What can you say of your family now?

I am a man that loves family a lot, you know, and I am blessed with three children and I love them very dearly. So when my marriage with their mother crashed, I was totally devastated and depressed. But after about seven years of separation with my wife, God helped us to get back together for the good of our children. So I’d say my family means the world to me.

Why does your film reflect on the good husband and not the good wife?

Because the responsibility is given to a man, he is the head of the home. If the home has to be fixed, it has to come from the obvious sacrifices that can come from the head of the family. Yes, there is the woman factor; the woman is like the womb that incubates the seed of this head of the home. So, how the womb is to be handled, the head of the home has to decide that. How the output of the seed will be actualised in the garden, the head of the home will decide that. So it is largely the man’s responsibility.

In most cases, when the story of a family is told, it is usually from the woman’s perspective. Sometimes when the issue of molestation happens in marriages, you think the women alone are molested, but the men are also molested.

From your perspective, who is the most important in marriage, the man or the woman?

Yeah, they are both involved, but the man makes the choice to want to marry a woman. He is the one that said, ‘Will you marry me?’ to a woman. He is the one that made her change her maiden name and begin to answer his name. So the real responsibility about marriage is placed on the shoulders of the man. And if you are attempting to fix it from this content, it must be from the premise of who is wearing the shoes and you can point at those areas where there are holes. If a marriage crashes, it is not most of the time from the woman’s perspective. Most times, it is also from the man’s perspective.

Do you think that a lot of people will agree with you on your position? What about those who do not agree with you?

Definitely it will have a lot of effect. It will generate a lot of discourse out there. Some will agree with the film, some may not agree. For example, I asked in one of the scenes: ‘Can a man rape his wife? How can you say a husband raped his wife?’ In America and Europe, they say if the woman does not give consent, it is rape. And I ask, what do you mean by give consent? You are married to the guy; what more consent? The consent was given the day you said, ‘yes I do.’ Some may not agree with that, but the truth is that the day you said ‘yes I do’ was the day you gave your consent.

If you have issues and the husband of yours is lying down with you in bed, and he says, ‘Babe what’s up?’ and you are like, ‘Leave me alone! That is a mistake you are making. In fact, that is a betrayal of that oneness that you both activated. And it applies both ways. Any time you deny each other of sexual intimacy, you are creating a barrier between both of you; you are becoming strangers to each other, and before you know it, it drags to you guys not knowing each other anymore and conflicts begin to set in. If you don’t manage it well, too bad. That is why we are having the high rate of divorce that is out there. In Abuja alone, they say there are over 4,000 divorce cases in court. Just Abuja. So, what of Lagos and other states?

You are not new to controversies and your new film is already shaking the table. What impact are you expecting it to make?

The movie will definitely make a positive impact. In fact, it is not restrictive; it is open to families, married and singles. It goes beyond Nigeria, because even in America and Europe, you can see that there are high rates of divorce, and that is why we are having this kind of bad society. If we want to get it right, we have to manage it the way we do climate change, because the greatest climate change that should be managed is divorce. The alarming rate of divorce should be discussed. Those in authority should try to protect that allegiance between husbands and wives. It is a sacred thing because the maker of heaven and earth made marriage.

We should also teach our young ones with the help of this film the implications of saying ‘I do.’ What does it mean? You must understand it before getting entangled. You must know that love is not all about that fantasy of February 14. Love should be an everyday thing. Couples should freely discuss after making love. Avail yourselves the opportunity to ask, ‘How was it?’ The film discusses all these issues to avoid situations that will make a man or woman pick up arms against their beloved.

Ladies as well as guys have complained of sex-for-role in Nollywood. What are your views?

Sex for role is real in Nollywood, but only charlatans do that. I don’t mix pleasure and business. That’s a no, no for me.

Has a lady ever offered you sex for a role?

Yes, a lady once offered me an amorous affair for a role. But, you see, I am a very disciplined filmmaker. I don’t entertain unserious people. I learnt early from the likes of Andy Amenechi, Teco Benson, Tade Ogidan, Ndubuisi Okoh, Chika Onu, most founding fathers of Nollywood, that if I want to go far in the business, I must never give room for nonsense. Of course I fired the lady in question from my set.

I am not saying I am a saint; please don’t get me wrong. In fact, I’ve had one or two love affairs in the entertainment industry. But they were never for roles.

Sex-for-role is a real phenomenon in Nollywood — Ex-Jonathan’s aide-cum-filmmaker

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