For almost a decade, popular actor, Kingsley Ogbonna aka Dauda, has been off-screen as he is currently studying Law at the Abia State University. He is also special adviser on Arts, Culture and Tourism to the governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu.
Dauda, who for many years serenaded television screen with his comic roles with the likes of Nkem Owoh, John Okafor, Charles Awurum, late Sam Loco, Victor Osuagwu, among others, speaks with SAM ANOKAM on why he left moviemaking to politics and his interest in the Law profession.
What has been happening to you since you left the movie industry?
seldom act. You see me on screen once-in-a-while because I don’t really have that time again. Normally, I would take a script and spend 10 days on set but if I take a script now and have to write a test in school, you know I’m a lawyer in equity; Law is not something you study from a distance. You must be there. You must be in school. We do group work regularly and at times you do your personal work. They don’t look at you because you are a star or Dauda or an elderly person, no, they treat you the way they treat other students. It is not a joke. At times you are given a movie script and you are expected to be on set maybe on a Monday and that Monday you have a test. You ask them to give you till Wednesday, they refuse. I return their script and money. You also know that I have a job with the governor as a special adviser on Arts, Culture, and Tourism over four years now. That politics aspect is also taking my time. I will come back big time when I’m done with my studies but as for politics, I am not going anywhere. ‘We die there!’
What informed your studying law?
It is my wife that made me go study law. My wife is a master’s degree holder in Psychology. Before my father died, he used to tell me that women are not supposed to be more educative than their husbands. I now said to myself, I am a first-degree holder and if my wife any day says something about having masters in this house, that day I will chase her away. One day she confirmed my fears and said it. Her younger brother who also is a Master’s degree holder in Engineering was with us one day when we were quarreling. I was explaining to her brother when she now told me that if I had done my Masters I would have understood what they are saying. I saw it as a challenge and not as an insult again. I now thought of what to study to neutralize this master issue and even do a greater subject. I decided to go in for law. I still have to give kudos to my dad because he has always wanted me to be a lawyer. He was always like if you will not study Law then marry a lawyer for me. Since I am in Umuahia, Abia State University, I decided to study Law. That was what propelled me to study Law. I am not studying law to be going to court and be defending anybody, doing litigation here and there. It is not about money but about personality profiles.
You have been in politics for some time now, do you have any plan to contest for an elective position?
Why not? That was initially what I came for until the present governor who happens to be my brother told me to calm down and follow him. He has been a nice man and the best ever. He is so intelligent that I learn from him every day. Anytime I sit with him I must learn something and he has been carrying me along because all of us that were there before now was dropped but he has been carrying me along. He told me to follow him and I have been following him. Before now, they were saying that Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu cannot do anything but come to Abia state now and see for yourself what he is doing. He told me, ‘Dauda, we will get it all good and right’ and he is sure of getting it right.
Ever since you left acting, what is your impression of the Nigerian movie industry?
The industry is still alive but our movies are dead. Right now, nobody makes money from the industry. You see youtube channels everywhere. If not this or that channel, they will not sell movies again. Most of the marketers you see in Alaba or Onitsha now talk about youtube channels, nobody goes to buy CDs again. There should be an orientation on how this industry should move forward to making money. The industry has succeeded in killing so many dreams. The industry has a way of killing you. If you see some of us who started this business you will cry. I thank God that we thought ahead.
Who do you blame?
I blame the industry that allowed the influx of a whole lot of amateur actors. Those days when we joined the industry before you shoot any movie, there must be a script conference. People will look at it, criticise it, you go and rewrite and come back again after which there would be an audition. Now everybody is an actor. There is no coordination, no cohesion.
What Emeka Rollas who is the president should do right now is to put the industry straight. Keep it working again. Be very strict. Have a wonderful taskforce. If you are an actor, where are you coming from? Some are even criminals hiding under the umbrella of Actors Guild of Nigeria. People shoot movies now from every angle. The one they shoot from one village they will still bring to the market. But I know it is not easy to do but when he starts, he is going to get it 40 percent right. 40 percent is the pass mark.
What do you proffer as a solution?
There is a need for a workshop. Bring in the industry generals and the so-called ‘waka pass’ and show them how this industry should look like. There is no maturity amongst us. It is high time we learn how to comport ourselves because we reflect the image of this country if we don’t know. Then encourage education in the industry. Most people you see act today didn’t even go to school. They just came in and began to act because they can speak English. Speaking English is not going to school. Going to school has to do with interaction. There is this need for you to go through the campus and the campus goes through you. If you have gone to a university or polytechnic you must have an atom of respecting yourself wherever you are. There should be lectures about how an industry person should behave. In Law, we have conducted – how a lawyer should behave, and if you go against that, you are in trouble.
Don’t you think you are part of the problem as you left the industry, went into politics, and now studying law and you didn’t groom others to fill in the vacuum you left?
I did. I can tell you so many who I groomed. I knew they were derailing. They were going a different way, so what did I do? I have to take a step ahead before hunger will kill me and my children because people are hungry in this industry. I’m being truthful. Make good use of what you have. They say the gift of a man makes a way for him. You know we comedians are taken like unserious people. Even at the government house, we are seen as such. Somebody told me one day and said, ‘Dauda this one that the governor is coming to visit us, go and carry a microphone and entertain people.’ I told him that that was not what I came here to do.
By the time they see you cracking jokes, they will not put you in the scheme of things. You will be there and you would not know what is happening. And a lot is happening. I didn’t start with them but I had to stoop to learn.
It is not my fault. Those who have taken my steps and those who want to take after me should know that every gambler knows the time to quit, knows the time to throw a particular card as the late Kenny Rogers told us. I knew it was time to step aside a little bit to go make money. I have children, I have a family. It is so unfortunate that you a star, they know you and you don’t have a penny. I don’t believe that. I’d rather not be a star than to starve. I’d rather not be a star than not to have money. I’d rather not be a star than not to be recognised in a system where I should be recognised. Yes, it is good to be a star. Stardom is wonderful, people take pictures with you, they like you, that is all you get but you are hungry. When you ask them for assistance, they will go to social media and say you are begging. I’m sorry, I have other businesses I am doing. As I talk to you, I have a car lot. I sell cars. I supply cars. I could travel to the U.S. or anywhere else, do my shows and come back. I need money. I’m going into agriculture. After that I will go into real production unless the industry improves again then we can return.