Home - BUSINESS - MY VISION IS TO MAKE IKA THE HUB OF NOLLYWOOD – Percy Edoki

MY VISION IS TO MAKE IKA THE HUB OF NOLLYWOOD – Percy Edoki

May we know you Sir?

My name is Percy Monday Edoki. I was born on May 28, 1979; a native of Aliagwai in Ika South LGA. I am the President of CEFO Movies Production and the Chairman of Ika Movies Practitioners (IMP). I was former Special Assistant to the Executive Chairman, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Hon. Sunny Ogwu. I was once Ika Personality of the year 2015 and a stakeholder of Nigeria Female Football Federation. I was the founder of the defunct Clara Ibude Angels and Abundance Queens Football Club. Both female football clubs were already in the professional league in the country. The clubs ceased to exist because of sponsorship.

Tells us about your childhood days?

I attended Agwai Primary School Aliagwai. I was a student of Unique Secondary Commercial School, Boji-Boji Owa and Good Luck Comprehensive College Benin City. I attended Delta State University, Abraka in 2000 where I obtained B. Sc. In Marketing.

Are you married?

Yes. I am married with five children. My wife is Esther Edoki and she is a business woman.

Who are your parents?

My parents were Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Agborike Edoki of Aliagwai. They died long ago.

Did your Parents also act in movies? Or is acting an inborn talent in you?

It is inborn. My parents did not act movies. It is now that my children have started following my footstep. My last born is doing very well in the film industry. My son is even learning faster than me. He is just 8years old but he has known a lot even directing. He is always close by whenever we are shooting movies. So, he is doing well.

How did you come into acting having studied marketing?

Acting was the vision I had many years ago while I was still in secondary school, precisely SS1 in 1990. At that time, I was writing scripts and after writing the scripts, I would give them to my pastor, Rev. Dr. Fidelis Ebeagwu of Bible Faith Family Church, Agbor. My focus then was mainly evangelical films because those were the kind of films I wrote and after writing, the pastor would help me to edit the stories. At that age, I also organized young boys and girls with whom I acted those stories on stage in the church hall. Added to this, we also attended drama competitions and the rest of it.

However, 1998 was the first time I officially went into film shooting, which I did with Association of All Christian Drama Group (ASCENDRA). That year, I acted my debut movie titled “Endless Agony” which was shot at Asaba. So, after the movie in 1998, I saw the need for me to have a theatre group which led to the establishment of CEFO in 2000. At the inception of CEFO, we were visiting churches to act drama. In 2002, we acted another movie titled “Minute of Danger”. After about a month, we released “Rescue from Bondage” which was followed by another one titled “The Righteous Man”

In 2005, I shot “Strength to Strength” with Patience Ozokwor (Mama G), Mercy Johnson, Tonto Dikeh, Mike Ezuruonye as directed by Ugezu J. Ugezu. That particular film was the one that brought me into limelight.

I am sure we had about 25 movie producers in Ika land in 2005; but today, all the producers and production houses have gone into extinction except CEFO which is still standing till today despite the challenges we faced.

Presently, CEFO has branches in different places including Port Harcourt, Calabar, Awka, Owerri, Edo State, Cameroun, and Benin Republic with Headquarters in Agbor. Since the government cannot employ everybody in the country, film production is one of the widest organizations and highest employers of labour with several job opportunities. Film Industry has Production Managers, Costumiers, Location Managers, Directors, etc. If these persons are engaged in one production, you will discover that the level of unemployment will be reduced to some extent. Hence, I have always told people that the movie industry has always given employment more than the government parastatals because I know the number of youths we have rescued. No one can single-handedly handle a movie as Director, Producer, and Costumier and so on, without the effort and assistance of others.

Today, Nollywood has come to Ika land and for over a month now, almost every day, films are being shot in Agbor and this is due to my effort. From time to time, I hold meetings with Directors and Producers to convince them that Agbor has good locations to shoot their movies and that is why you see them coming to Agbor to shoot films. Even people like Zubby Michael and the rest of them, who had said they cannot come to Agbor for movie production, have visited on several occasions to shoot films.

Currently, my friend, Nnasor and I have been inspecting the condition of the film village at Agbor-Nta which I donated to one of the Hollywood Directors that will be coming from America to shoot the first “African Epic Move” right here in Agbor which will be happening from 10th of August to 9th September, 2019. By that time, we will be having foreigners from Hollywood Film Industry for the film production.

 

What is the title of this “African Epic Movie”?

The production is the first African Walts Disney Epic Film titled “Ojanoma”. Ojanoma is an Urhobo name which tends to depict the theme of genuine love and it will be directed by Diemiruaye Deniaran, an Urhobo man born in London, United Kingdom and based in New York, United States of America. The epic movie will feature actors like; Douglas Antonio (Hollywood Actor, USA), Adetunuke Yetunde, Chime Liauskas, Shanay Keshauna Cook (New York), Lamay Shaneisha Luke. Other actors from Zambia are Tapiwa Majiya, Mwiza Sinwanza.

 

Why did you choose Agbor as your location?

We want to make Agbor the hub of Nollywood and so, when the job was presented to me, I thought about bringing it to Agbor. Then, we started working on it because we needed a place we can call our own.

You mentioned some movies you have acted and directed, amongst these movies, which one would you rate as your best?

I do not actually act because as a Director, I am always behind the camera. Though, I featured in some minor roles in few movies like, “A Minute of Danger,”, “Strength to Strength”. The movie I played a major role in was “Touch me Small” where I featured as an Okada rider“. In “Nwa Teacher”, I played the role of a village boy and “11:45 Killer” where I acted as a police officer. In “Wicked Witch” and “Home with Enemy”, I didn’t participate and some of them that I cannot remember.

So amongst all these movies, I think my best was in “Agha Ebola”, although people see “Onye Nkuzi” as my best because I played a very humorous role using the slogan “Ekwensu amu umu ejime”. It was that same film that earned me that name “Ekwensu amu umu ejime,” (Satan has given birth to twins).

 

You said earlier that you shot your first movie in 1998, knowing well that you have the talent in acting, why did you choose to study Marketing instead of Theatre Art?

You know in those days, after writing JAMB, they will give you admission based on your score, not now that one can change their course with money. I had applied for English/Theatre Art then, but they didn’t give me admission on that, instead, they gave me Accounting. So, I started with Accounting but when I got to year 2, I changed the course to marketing.

 

Why did you choose to be behind the camera rather than being in the front?

Like I said earlier, Nollywood has so many branches. You can decide to major in any one depending on your ability or talent. Just like pastors, some are called into deliverance while others are called to perform miracles. On my own, I chose producing and directing because I know those are my areas of specialization. But presently, I am trying to showcase my face little by little, because I discovered that the people we project, gain more recognition from the viewers and general public than us because they are in front of the camera and they are the ones making more money. When you attend one or two occasions with them, you see people crowding them and taking photographs with them without recognizing the producers or directors. This is why 80% to 90% of movie Producers and Directors now want to feature in their movies. This is also the reason I always want to feature in any movie I direct because I want to be recognized too. Gone are those days we had motor but could not ride.

 

How many movies have you shot so far?

All my movies are over 500 including the internet ones.

 

What inspires you?

I have always told people that movie is passion. Gone are the days when one goes into movie industry to make money. Today, we are doing it because of passion. In Nigeria, we do not have good market. For instance, for a year now, DSTV has not bought any movie from us to air like they normally did before, likewise, television stations. So, when you see people doing movie, we are only doing it because of passion.  The only way one can make money in Film Production now, is in internet. That is why a lot of people now go through internet marketing.

 

You mentioned that DSTV and other broadcasting stations have not been buying movies from the Film Industry, then how do they come about the ones they air on their stations?

What they air now are the old movies they bought some years ago.  If you observe, after the end of every movie, you will discover that the year of production of the movie is always two to three, or more years back. You can never find 2019 movies aired. Sometime ago, someone called me and told me that they were airing my movie, when I checked; I discovered it was my 2008 movie they were showing.

 

You also said there is no money in Film industry and that it is just driven by passion. Is this also applicable to Directors/Producers with Actors/Actresses alike?

No, the actors and actresses are not interested in whether film sells or not. This is because they take their money first before the production of the movie commences. The only area they are affected is when the price sometimes reduced based on the relationship between the actor and the producer

 

Do brief us on internet marketing?

Internet marketing is no longer encouraging because the agents are not helping matters. When you send content to them, they start giving you conditions. Internet marketing believes in short movies, especially adult films. If you do a movie without some faces in the market, they won’t accept the movie. That is why some persons are now producing some romantic movies because that is the demand in the internet market. You may have good stories, good pictures but they will tell you to your face that they are concerned about fans like Zuby Michael, Yul Edochie, Ken Erics to mention but few.

 

Does airing of your recent movies that have not been well sold in the market not affect the marketability of such movies and also encourage piracy?

No, it is an avenue to publicize the new movie.

 

Most Actors are drifting away from acting into other businesses, what could be the possible reason?

Like I said earlier, Film Industry in Nigeria no longer pays. Before now, some actors/actresses will be given five scripts for less than one week to understudy, but today, the reverse is the case as actors/actresses will hold unto a script for months. When we produce a movie and the market is available, we will keep on producing. Today, how many Nigerians are still buying home videos? Just very few of them are still buying. Most times you will even beg people to buy; because of this, it is now very difficult to pay actors/actresses.

 

What would you attribute to the dwindling interest in buying and watching home videos?

The fact is that the Federal Government is not helping matters. The Federal Government ought to have assisted Nollywood by allotting some good amount of money for movie production because we have the largest job opportunities for our teeming unemployed youths. When fund is available and we have a good market we will do good movies in large quantities.

For example, if you decide to shoot a movie in Ika language today, how many people are ready to buy? So the market is a problem.

Another challenge is piracy. For example, if I am working on a musical video now, before the musical video is out, people will start using phones to watch and transfer to others. By the time the video is fully ready, they will not be able to watch it again. They will see it as obsolete because they have seen it.

 

So what measure are you taking to curtail this issue of piracy?

We have done our best in using all practical measures within our reach. The Federal Government needs to do more in this aspect also. The issue of piracy can also be likened to kidnapping. I remember some films I produced some time ago, titled “Home with Enemy” and “Wicked Witch”; I only printed 150, 000 copies and later, I got to know that somebody in Aba printed 200, 000 copies of those my movies without my permission. What I am saying is that the federal government should enact a strong law to checkmate piracy because it is seriously affecting the market.

 

Most parents complain of Nigerian movies corrupting their children, hence, they tend to prevent their children from watching them, what is your take on that?

In a normal Nollywood movie that passes through Censors Board, such movies must be classified to ages. That is why you see on the movie 18years and above because they feel when you are 18years or older, you have gathered some experiences in life and should be able to use your discretion to discern things for yourself. Children are not permitted to watch adult movies because it does not belong to their stage in life. Children are expected to watch cartons and some children movies. Though, we have a problem of social media, especially with those whose parents have affluence in the society and can afford to buy their children expensive mobile phones with which they can access anything they want on social media. To be frank, any underage that has started watching adult movies; has destroyed his/her future. He/she is on the verge of doing so because such child will lack concentration in his/her studies.  It is advisable that parents should avoid their children having access to the social media if they are not up to 18 years.

 

What can you say about the many parts of a particular production? For example, a particular movie having from part 1 to 10 and so on?

Like I said earlier, in Film Industry, there is no more money. If I put N5million into a movie, and I only do it for just parts 1 and 2, I will not get up to N2million. Secondly, our viewers have their special fans; some will want to watch because of Pete Edochie, Zubby Michael, and Regina Daniels and so on. When you push the N5million into the same movie with few parts, you will run at a loss. Hence, we do it that way so that, one who buys just parts 1 and 2 will also want to buy from parts 3 to 8 or 10 with maybe, another title.

 

How do you think these challenges can be resolved?

Firstly, government should look into piracy. Secondly, government should allocate funds to Film Industry. As at now, Nollywood is rated third highest movie producers in the world and this is due to the avalanche of movies Nollywood is churning out. However, Delta state government should also assist in funding Film Producers especially as Agbor is becoming the hub of Nollywood because if we are able to establish and stabilize here, Nollywood will in no little measure provide jobs for our teeming unemployed Ika youths.

We emphasize so much on kidnapping, migration to Libya and other countries en route the Mediterranean Sea, theft, prostitution and the rest of them. If the state governments can sponsor language movies and give producers revolving loans, you will be surprised at the great success it will yield. Most of our youths have great talents which are yet to be discovered. When you engage and help them develop these talents, they will be occupied with something and begin to secure their ways into greatness and this will in no little way help build the nation and create employment.

Since over three weeks that Zubby Michael and other Nollywood actors came to Agbor, so many youths have come out in their numbers to identify with them. Some were given roles to play and they did wonderfully well. In essence, all we are begging for is fund.

I want to also plead that the government should support entertainment. For example, when you listen to good music, humorous jokes; you seldom think and when you do not think much, blood pressure will reduce.

 

You have spoken much on what the government needs to do to re-awaken the interest of people in patronizing home videos.  Now, on the parts of the Producers and Directors, what do you think you can do on this issue?

The reason some people do not like Nigerian movie today is because they obviously repeat stories which is due to the fact that there is no fund to do a good movie. Like the epic movie we are talking about at Agbor-Nta, the story is taking close to N35million Naira. Give me N10million and I will give you what you want. There is no producer that will not produce good movie when given a reasonable amount of money. For example, if Mercy Johnson is worth over a million naira to feature in a movie and everybody wants to watch her and the producer has N2million to produce the movie, how can he feature Mercy Johnson? What about the other crew? So give us the money and the producer will know what to do. When a producer is financially equipped, you will get good movies.

 

In Nigerian movies, people can easily predict what is going to happen next unlike American movies. What are Directors and Producers doing to create suspense in the mind of viewers as seen in most foreign movies?

Well, it depends on the Playwrights. Like myself, you can never predict my movies. If you check all my movies, you will see that you can never predict it. I have my concept and others have their concepts too. Like the detective movie I just finished about two weeks ago, you can never predict what will happen.

 

Where do you see CEFO in the next five years?

With the level we are now by having a good relationship with Nollywood; in the next five years, CEFO will be one of the best movie production houses in Nigeria because we have entered into agreement with Nollywood and we are also trying to partner with Zambia production. Also we have already started movie production in Benin Republic and CEFO is the only Nigerian film Industry that is shooting movies there. So with God helping us, I believe CEFO will take over considering the film village we have here

 

There is this speculation that the Ibos and the Yorubas are the real owners of Nollywood?

Yes. This is because they have the concept and they started early. An Ibo man encourages his brother and the Yoruba people encourage their people and they all buy their language films. Ibos and Yorubas have their language channels in DSTV but Ika does not because we are minority. The vision of CEFO is to continue to shoot Anioma movies. It is a way of bringing the Aniomas together. So by the time we have about 200 movies in Anioma language, DSTV will give us a channel.

 

Do you Produce films in Ika language?

Yes, we have Ika language movies like “Onye Nkuzi”, “Ije-Elu”, “Agha Ebola”, “Obiaziozor” and others, all in Ika language.

 

We know that Anioma comprises about four different languages, so how do you reconcile this language differences in Anioma?

The Yorubas do not have one particular language; the Ibos do not also have one particular language, likewise Anioma. If all of us in Anioma shoot films together in different languages; Aniocha, Ndokwa, Ika and Oshimili will all speak their languages. There are some general ones that everyone in Anioma understands. So, by the time we subtitle it everyone will now understand what we are talking about.

 

What about the characters, will they be able to understand one another while acting, since they still speak their different languages?

Yes, we have done it before when we did a campaign film for Gov. Okowa in 2015 with all the tribes majoring in their languages.

 

What are the yardsticks you use for selecting characters for a particular role?

Any person that wants to be part of CEFO must first be a registered member. After that, we will organize audition to test the person’s ability. And once the person passes the audition test, we can then fix him/her in a particular role.

 

What if after giving someone a script to understudy and you later discover the person is not fit for the role, what will you do in that case?

We normally use a particular role to test someone. If the person performs well during the audition, he/she will play the role.

 

Sir, despite the dwindling interest of viewers in the Nigerian movies, you still continue to produce movies, what is your motivation?

Firstly, it is passion. Secondly, there are some persons that motivate me that I also look up to. People like; Dr. Victor Ikpon, Monday Apaokwueze, Chief Jude Omekoh, and Hon Sunny Ogwu. These people have always been a source of joy and encouragement to me. Like Dr. Donald Peterson, whenever I remember these people while I am shooting a movie, they always serve as source of encouragement to me. Some of them give me their cars, houses to shoot my movies. So, if somebody can give me houses, cars, drinks, etc to shoot movies, it means if he has N1million, he can also give me one day. These are the things that motivate me. These people are my mentors and I can rely on them any time. I also have other people like; Chief Nkenchor Okwuokenye, the Ineh of Owa; Chief Ikpoza, the Ogisi of Agbor-Nta. The entire Agbor-Nta community also gave me their support; allowing us to shoot films there any time without stress. They are wonderful people and have always been a source of encouragement to me.

 

In movie Industry, who are your mentors and role models?

The truth must be told, if not Solo Apete and my boss, P-Collins, I would not have been in the film industry. These two are my special mentors.  In directorship, I give my respect to Ifeanyi Azodo and Ugezu J. Ugezu.

 

Any assistance so far from Ika people?

Like I told you, I am from Ika precisely, Aliagwai and Agbor-Nta. There is no Ika man that can boast that he has supported me with money for film production. Few films that I have done so far, like “Strength to Strength”, it was an Hausa man, Maj. Gen. Musa that gave me N3million. Another person is an Urhobo man who is also the former clerk of Delta State House of Assembly. He is popularly known as Uncle Ray. He gave me N2million. So, apart from these two persons, nobody has ever supported me.  All the films I have produced were from my salaries and hard labours.

 

Have you received any award?

Yes, I have received so many awards. I received the Best Writer Award in 2010 from Africa Movie Practitioners.  I am also a recipient of the Nollywood Golden Award as the Best Movie Producer of the Year, 2018; from Christian Youth Mission of Nigeria as the Best Christian Producer, 2018 and many other awards that I cannot remember. About two months ago, I also got an award from Frangela this year’s Easter Monday.

 

How do you relax?

I believe in reading and writing. So, I spend most of my time writing scripts.

 

What faith do you profess?

I am a Christian

What are your likes and dislikes?

I like watching wrestling, action movies. I also like the philosophy of helping one another. I dislike betrayal and treachery.

Do you also have time to watch your own movies?

Yes, I have time to watch Nigerian movies but not all the time. Most times, I spend time watching American and Philippine movies because I want to learn and upgrade myself. If I continue watching Nollywood all the time, I will not be able to learn new things because Nollywood has the same concept. So, I have to do different from what my contemporaries are doing. Like now, I am planning another movie titled, “Time for Action.” It is an action movie that I want to shoot in Agbor and that will be the first action film I will ever produce. I am taking time to do it.

Amongst the films you have directed so far, which one is your favourite?

There are about two. One is’ Glamour’ and the other one is an epic movie. The glamour is “Strength to Strength” and the epic is “Home with Enemy.”

Why did you choose them as your favourite?

The reason is because I had adequate fund for the project which made it so standard. The films were well done.

Why not take time to plan a movie and see if the movie can stand the test of time?

Yes. That is what I resolved to do few months ago and I just finished one recently. I know that by the time this one enters the market it will be the best movie in Africa. This film is the first time in history the police station and van in Agbor were used to shoot a movie. I got approval from the commissioner of police for the use of Agbor station for the detective movie.

What are the challenges and regrets you have encountered so far in the movie industry?

My challenge is Finance. If I have money I would do a good movie. My regret is marketing. After struggling with what I have to produce a movie and at the end, I will not see where to sell the movies. Sometimes, I will do a movie and someone else will help me to sell it through piracy. Probably, the person may not have money to produce but he will have money to mass-dub and be selling and making big money out of my sweat.

 

What are the movie producers in Nigeria doing to stop piracy on their own?

We have association and our association has been working with the Censor’s Board and Copyright Board because when we produce a movie, the movie must first go to the censor and copyright boards for approval. They will issue a document to ensure that you are the rightful owner of the movie. So when you discover any of your movies being marketed anywhere with another name, you can go to copyright and get the person. We are making all these moves.

 

You said earlier that you have the intention of making Agbor the hub of movie production in Nigeria, so how do you plan to achieve this?

Before now, I usually did an annual programme tagged “Nollywood Golden Award” that was done every first Saturday in October, here in Agbor. It is because of my plan to make Agbor the hub of movie industry that made me start that, and during that period I used to bring Nollywood actors and actresses to perform in Agbor. Also, because of the plan to make Agbor the hub of movie production, I have been inviting actors from Hollywood to come and shoot in Agbor. I have the mind that whenever they arrive, we will pay a courtesy call on the Executive Governor of Delta State, our traditional rulers, Council Chairmen. From there we are going to talk on the issue of marketing of our films. We cannot have actors from Hollywood shooting here and will not have a film market. We must have a film market.

I already made arrangements with film marketers in Onitsha about six years ago when they were here and we agreed that they will come and establish their offices here in Agbor. So by the time the Hollywood actors come and after our courtesy visits, we will begin to raise that issue up again. I am confident the production in Agbor is going to improve and become better than other places like Asaba, because we have good roads, good structures and Agbor is a virgin town. Last year, a Producer from Ghana shot a movie in Agbor which I coordinated. Now, Hollywood is coming from America to shoot a movie. By the time they will finish and go, I believe South Africa, Malawi and other countries will also come? Zambia will also be coming with Hollywood to study the film village. So, in the next five years, Agbor will take over the movie industry.

 

Where is the Film Village located?

It is at Agbor-Nta. Though Aliagwai gave us a land to build, but I personally donated one of my largest lands at Agbor-Nta for the film village to be built because the land donated by a good Samaritan in Aliagwai was not large enough.

 

What is the possibility of the film village attaining your dream considering its location?

We do not have any epic film village apart from Iginenla which is located at the camp in Oshimili North of Delta State, and anybody can destroy it at any time. Nobody can destroy this place we are building because it is my property and I have the vision for it.

 

You are usually found in the company of Nnasor and Chinwentalu Agu, what is your relationship with them?

Nnasor is the National Vice President of CEFO and he is the producer of the American epic film of which I am the Coordinator. So, he must come to see the location and everything going on there.

 

How did you come about the name CEFO?

The name CEFO was given to me by God and none of my people know the meaning except me. The Meaning is Calvary Evangelical Films Outreach (CEFO) also known as People’s Entertainment Base. The slogan is: Great CEFO; the People’s entertainment base.

 

How many members does CEFO have so far?

We have over 5660 members including people in our different branches. By October all of them will come from different branches.

 

Who amongst your members are your favourite actors and actresses?

Talking about the elderly ones, Nnasor is the best and talking about the youngest, Lucy Okobia is the best. For the boys, Justice Omordion is the best. We also have Esther Obuseh for the women. CEFO is made up of different stars like the Double Spanner you hear of in Nollywood, is a member of CEFO.

 

How are you using your movie production to prevent Ika language from going into extinction?

That is why we have Ika Movies Practitioners of which am the chairman. We have mandated all the producers to go into language films. Every producer is now shooting language films and before Christmas this year, you will see lots of Ika language films. We are making efforts toward that.

 

What is your favourite Food?

Vegetables and unripe plantain are my favourite meals. My local Ika food is Ofe Ujuju.

 

What are your views on Nigerian movies generally?

Everyone should always focus on how to rebrand Nollywood. The producers, Playwrights, Directors and others should not be repeating their stories. The producers should not be giving jobs to low standard people. Our Government should also support the producers to fund their projects. And my people in Ika should always try to encourage their own not just giving us their houses and cars alone, they should also support us financially. The state government should also give revolving loan to the producers so that we can meet up with our language movies. Like the Ibos, the Yorubas and even Edo state, they all have budgets for language movies. The state government should try to give us budget for language movies and we will pay for it as a revolving loan instead of not having money to produce. I believe that when these things are put in place, Nigeria can even beat America in terms of movie production. There is money in entertainment industry. The money Federal Government is making from entertainment industry is very big.

What efforts are you making to train upcoming movie producers and directors?

I am making serious efforts. Firstly, I introduced Nollywood Golden Award for them to see top Nollywood stars and be encouraged. Secondly, I have also made effort to shift Nollywood stars from Asaba to Agbor and I have started motivating people to join. By the time Hollywood will come to Agbor to shoot, the people I am training will also come. I also run a bonanza as a way of encouraging them in terms of registration.

Do you have people you are currently training?

Yes, we are training some people and we are also featuring them in our movie.

In your own little way, what impact would you say you made on Ika nation and its people?

I am proud to say I am the first to have organized Ika Female Football competition which was held at Agwai-Ewuru Secondary School, Ewuru where Ute-Okpu Queens defeated Ihu-Iyase Angels through penalty shoot-out.

The following year, competition was held at Agwai Primary School, Aliagwai where the Agbor-Nta Queens defeated Alihame Babes by 1 goal in the final.  Today, I am proud to say that during the national female competition which was held in 2013 at Agbor township stadium where my team, Abundance Queen defeated Abia Queen in the second round to qualify for finals, 6 of my players were then picked by Perlicap Queens in Calabar and at the finals between my team, Abundance Queen and Yaba Queens of Lagos after beating the team by 2 goals to 1; my keeper was rated the in from the tournament and she was invited into the camp for Coasta Rica World Cup. You can agree with me that I have done much.  During my secondary school days; because I loved football, I raised a team called Baby Eagles of Aliagwai where the first Ika Under 13 Football Competition was held in 1995 with 15 clubs participating in the tournament like; PP stars, Samaekwu FC, Aladimbuli FC, Chelsea FC, Adventure FC, Leads FC, Ika Bombast to mention but few.

My team, Baby Eagles then took the first trophy of the tournament by beating the Adventure FC by a lone goal. After this competition, the Managing Director of CBA pools Ltd picked a serious interest to sponsor my team that necessitated the change of name from Baby Eagles to CBA Football Club. In 1996, CBA FC, my new team, won the 2nd edition of the under 13 and after that I raised a senior team where we paraded football stars like Yemi, Igbodo and a lot of others.  Clara Angels Football Club was sponsored by Hon. Hilary Ibude former Chairman, Ika South while Abundance Queens Football club was sponsored by Chief Jude Ogbekile.

I registered them into leagues and we travelled far and near where most of us were exposed to some areas we had not been.

After my secondary school in 1993, I secured a private job with Enyikokome Rural Development Union in Agbor in partnership with Ford Foundation, USA. Then, I was the Program Assistant. I assisted by bringing women who were traders in rural communities into groups where we assisted them with loan at a minimal interest rate of 3%. Though it was a revolving loan, in the case of the men, we were giving them farming loans. This enabled me to go round almost all the communities in Ika and beyond Ika nation. I was the officer in-charge of Abavo Cassava Processing Project which was built then at Ekwoma in Abavo by Enyikokome with the supervision of Technoserve, Lagos. I have used the position to empower over 5000 women and over 3000 men and the loan facilities helped to uplift their low standard of living.

As at 2010, I worked directly with the Executive Chairman, State Bureau for Pensions, Asaba and I used my position to assist the retirees from all parts of Delta State. I made sure that their documents were in order and also ensured that all retirees were paid at the right time. I believed those retirees can testify to my roles during my time at the State Pension Bureau. I am proud to say that during my time, all retirees were happy. I also appreciated my boss, Chief (Mrs.) Christiana Sikpere; she was an understandable boss. We worked as a family and shared ideas together. This cooperation actually gave us positive results.

Coming back as the Special Assistant to the Executive Chairman of SUBEB, Hon. Sunny Ogwu, it was an added advantage to me to continue my humanitarian services.  From September 2015 to May 2018, our results were outstanding. I am proud to say that what we achieved, no SUBEB management has ever achieved such feat. We succeeded because the Governor of the State, His Excellency, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa supported us greatly. Almost all communities were touched with furniture, construction of classrooms, renovations, execution of water projects and constructions of modern toilets. Some schools were provided sports equipments. Evidences are everywhere to attest to our performance under the leadership of Hon. Sunny Ogwu. Even when the House of Representatives Committee paid the board visit to check projects done by the board, the committee chairman, after going round in the state with his members, were very happy and expressed his surprise at the great feat, saying that Delta State remains the best they have so far visited.

As Special Assistant, last year, I bought text books for all the pupils in Agwai Primary School, Aliagwai and I employed a graduate to conduct lessons for primary five and six. She was on my monthly payroll. I also encouraged some widows and students with monthly stipends. I have assisted many people in securing good jobs within and outside the state.

So what are your principles about life?

My priority is honesty, humbleness, love, and caring spirit. I also like people who are not self-centered and I cherish carrying people along.

There is this speculation that the Ibos and the Yorubas are the real owners of Nollywood?

Yes. This is because they have the concept and they started early. An Ibo man encourages his brother and the Yoruba people encourage their people and they all buy their language films. Ibos and Yorubas have their language channels in DSTV but Ika does not because we are minority. The vision of CEFO is to continue to shoot Anioma movies. It is a way of bringing the Aniomas together. So by the time we have about 200 movies in Anioma language, DSTV will give us a channel.

 

Do you Produce films in Ika language?

Yes, we have Ika language movies like “Onye Nkuzi”, “Ije-Elu”, “Agha Ebola”, “Obiaziozor” and others, all in Ika language.

 

We know that Anioma comprises about four different languages, so how do you reconcile this language differences in Anioma?

The Yorubas do not have one particular language; the Ibos do not also have one particular language, likewise Anioma. If all of us in Anioma shoot films together in different languages; Aniocha, Ndokwa, Ika and Oshimili will all speak their languages. There are some general ones that everyone in Anioma understands. So, by the time we subtitle it everyone will now understand what we are talking about.

 

What about the characters, will they be able to understand one another while acting, since they still speak their different languages?

Yes, we have done it before when we did a campaign film for Gov. Okowa in 2015 with all the tribes majoring in their languages.

 

What are the yardsticks you use for selecting characters for a particular role?

Any person that wants to be part of CEFO must first be a registered member. After that, we will organize audition to test the person’s ability. And once the person passes the audition test, we can then fix him/her in a particular role.

 

What if after giving someone a script to understudy and you later discover the person is not fit for the role, what will you do in that case?

We normally use a particular role to test someone. If the person performs well during the audition, he/she will play the role.

 

Sir, despite the dwindling interest of viewers in the Nigerian movies, you still continue to produce movies, what is your motivation?

Firstly, it is passion. Secondly, there are some persons that motivate me that I also look up to. People like; Dr. Victor Ikpon, Monday Apaokwueze, Chief Jude Omekoh, and Hon Sunny Ogwu. These people have always been a source of joy and encouragement to me. Like Dr. Donald Peterson, whenever I remember these people while I am shooting a movie, they always serve as source of encouragement to me. Some of them give me their cars, houses to shoot my movies. So, if somebody can give me houses, cars, drinks, etc to shoot movies, it means if he has N1million, he can also give me one day. These are the things that motivate me. These people are my mentors and I can rely on them any time. I also have other people like; Chief Nkenchor Okwuokenye, the Ineh of Owa; Chief Ikpoza, the Ogisi of Agbor-Nta. The entire Agbor-Nta community also gave me their support; allowing us to shoot films there any time without stress. They are wonderful people and have always been a source of encouragement to me.

 

In movie Industry, who are your mentors and role models?

The truth must be told, if not Solo Apete and my boss, P-Collins, I would not have been in the film industry. These two are my special mentors.  In directorship, I give my respect to Ifeanyi Azodo and Ugezu J. Ugezu.

 

Any assistance so far from Ika people?

Like I told you, I am from Ika precisely, Aliagwai and Agbor-Nta. There is no Ika man that can boast that he has supported me with money for film production. Few films that I have done so far, like “Strength to Strength”, it was an Hausa man, Maj. Gen. Musa that gave me N3million. Another person is an Urhobo man who is also the former clerk of Delta State House of Assembly. He is popularly known as Uncle Ray. He gave me N2million. So, apart from these two persons, nobody has ever supported me.  All the films I have produced were from my salaries and hard labours.

 

Have you received any award?

Yes, I have received so many awards. I received the Best Writer Award in 2010 from Africa Movie Practioners.  I am also a recipient of the Nollywood Golden Award as the Best Movie Producer of the Year, 2018; from Christian Youth Mission of Nigeria as the Best Christian Producer, 2018 and many other awards that I cannot remember. About two months ago, I also got an award from Frangela this year’s Easter Monday.

 

How do you relax?

I believe in reading and writing. So, I spend most of my time writing scripts.

 

What faith do you profess?

I am a Christian

 

What are your likes and dislikes?

I like watching wrestling, action movies. I also like the philosophy of helping one another. I dislike betrayal and treachery.

 

Do you also have time to watch your own movies?

Yes, I have time to watch Nigerian movies but not all the time. Most times, I spend time watching American and Philippine movies because I want to learn and upgrade myself. If I continue watching Nollywood all the time, I will not be able to learn new things because Nollywood has the same concept. So, I have to do different from what my contemporaries are doing. Like now, I am planning another movie titled, “Time for Action.” It is an action movie that I want to shoot in Agbor and that will be the first action film I will ever produce. I am taking time to do it.

 

Amongst the films you have directed so far, which one is your favourite?

There are about two. One is’Glamour’ and the other one is an epic movie. The glamour is “Strength to Strength” and the epic is “Home with Enemy.”

 

Why did you choose them as your favourite?

The reason is because I had adequate fund for the project which made it so standard. The films were well done.

 

Why not take time to plan a movie and see if the movie can stand the test of time?

Yes. That is what I resolved to do few months ago and I just finished one recently. I know that by the time this one enters the market it will be the best movie in Africa. This film is the first time in history the police station and van in Agbor were used to shoot a movie. I got approval from the commissioner of police for the use of Agbor station for the detective movie.

 

What are the challenges and regrets you have encountered so far in the movie industry?

My challenge is Finance. If I have money I would do a good movie. My regret is marketing. After struggling with what I have to produce a movie and at the end, I will not see where to sell the movies. Sometimes, I will do a movie and someone else will help me to sell it through piracy. Probably, the person may not have money to produce but he will have money to mass-dub and be selling and making big money out of my sweat.

 

What are the movie producers in Nigeria doing to stop piracy on their own?

We have association and our association has been working with the Censor’s Board and Copyright Board because when we produce a movie, the movie must first go to the censor and copyright boards for approval. They will issue a document to ensure that you are the rightful owner of the movie. So when you discover any of your movies being marketed anywhere with another name, you can go to copyright and get the person. We are making all these moves.

 

You said earlier that you have the intention of making Agbor the hub of movie production in Nigeria, so how do you plan to achieve this?

Before now, I usually did an annual programme tagged “Nollywood Golden Award” that was done every first Saturday in October, here in Agbor. It is because of my plan to make Agbor the hub of movie industry that made me start that, and during that period I used to bring Nollywood actors and actresses to perform in Agbor. Also, because of the plan to make Agbor the hub of movie production, I have been inviting actors from Hollywood to come and shoot in Agbor. I have the mind that whenever they arrive, we will pay a courtesy call on the Executive Governor of Delta State, our traditional rulers, Council Chairmen. From there we are going to talk on the issue of marketing of our films. We cannot have actors from Hollywood shooting here and will not have a film market. We must have a film market.

I already made arrangements with film marketers in Onitsha about six years ago when they were here and we agreed that they will come and establish their offices here in Agbor. So by the time the Hollywood actors come and after our courtesy visits, we will begin to raise that issue up again. I am confident the production in Agbor is going to improve and become better than other places like Asaba, because we have good roads, good structures and Agbor is a virgin town. Last year, a Producer from Ghana shot a movie in Agbor which I coordinated. Now, Hollywood is coming from America to shoot a movie. By the time they will finish and go, I believe South Africa, Malawi and other countries will also come? Zambia will also be coming with Hollywood to study the film village. So, in the next five years, Agbor will take over the movie industry.

 

Where is the Film Village located?

It is at Agbor-Nta. Though Aliagwai gave us a land to build, but I personally donated one of my largest lands at Agbor-Nta for the film village to be built because the land donated by a good Samaritan in Aliagwai was not large enough.

 

What is the possibility of the film village attaining your dream considering its location?

We do not have any epic film village apart from Iginenla which is located at the camp in Oshimili North of Delta State, and anybody can destroy it at any time. Nobody can destroy this place we are building because it is my property and I have the vision for it.

 

You are usually found in the company of Nnasor and Chinwentalu Agu, what is your relationship with them?

Nnasor is the National Vice President of CEFO and he is the producer of the American epic film of which I am the Coordinator. So, he must come to see the location and everything going on there.

 

How did you come about the name CEFO?

The name CEFO was given to me by God and none of my people know the meaning except me. The Meaning is Calvary Evangelical Films Outreach (CEFO) also known as People’s Entertainment Base. The slogan is: Great CEFO; the People’s entertainment base.

 

How many members does CEFO have so far?

We have over 5660 members including people in our different branches. By October all of them will come from different branches.

 

Who amongst your members are your favourite actors and actresses?

Talking about the elderly ones, Nnasor is the best and talking about the youngest, Lucy Okobia is the best. For the boys, Justice Omordion is the best. We also have Esther Obuseh for the women. CEFO is made up of different stars like the Double Spanner you hear of in Nollywood, is a member of CEFO.

 

How are you using your movie production to prevent Ika language from going into extinction?

That is why we have Ika Movies Practitioners of which am the chairman. We have mandated all the producers to go into language films. Every producer is now shooting language films and before Christmas this year, you will see lots of Ika language films. We are making efforts toward that.

What is your favourite Food?

Vegetables and unripe plantain are my favourite meals. My local Ika food is Ofe Ujuju.

 

What are your views on Nigerian movies generally?

Everyone should always focus on how to rebrand Nollywood. The producers, Playwrights, Directors and others should not be repeating their stories. The producers should not be giving jobs to low standard people. Our Government should also support the producers to fund their projects. And my people in Ika should always try to encourage their own not just giving us their houses and cars alone, they should also support us financially. The state government should also give revolving loan to the producers so that we can meet up with our language movies. Like the Ibos, the Yorubas and even Edo state, they all have budgets for language movies. The state government should try to give us budget for language movies and we will pay for it as a revolving loan instead of not having money to produce. I believe that when these things are put in place, Nigeria can even beat America in terms of movie production. There is money in entertainment industry. The money Federal Government is making from entertainment industry is very big.

 

What efforts are you making to train upcoming movie producers and directors?

I am making serious efforts. Firstly, I introduced Nollywood Golden Award for them to see top Nollywood stars and be encouraged. Secondly, I have also made effort to shift Nollywood stars from Asaba to Agbor and I have started motivating people to join. By the time Hollywood will come to Agbor to shoot, the people I am training will also come. I also run a bonanza as a way of encouraging them in terms of registration.

 

Do you have people you are currently training?

Yes, we are training some people and we are also featuring them in our movie.

 

In your own little way, what impact would you say you made on Ika nation and its people?

I am proud to say I am the first to have organized Ika Female Football competition which was held at Agwai-Ewuru Secondary School, Ewuru where Ute-Okpu Queens defeated Ihu-Iyase Angels through penalty shoot-out.

The following year, competition was held at Agwai Primary School, Aliagwai where the Agbor-Nta Queens defeated Alihame Babes by 1 goal in the final.  Today, I am proud to say that during the national female competition which was held in 2013 at Agbor township stadium where my team, Abundance Queen defeated Abia Queen in the second round to qualify for finals, 6 of my players were then picked by Perlicap Queens in Calabar and at the finals between my team, Abundance Queen and Yaba Queens of Lagos after beating the team by 2 goals to 1; my keeper was rated the in from the tournament and she was invited into the camp for Coasta Rica World Cup. You can agree with me that I have done much.  During my secondary school days; because I loved football, I raised a team called Baby Eagles of Aliagwai where the first Ika Under 13 Football Competition was held in 1995 with 15 clubs participating in the tournament like; PP stars, Samaekwu FC, Aladimbuli FC, Chelsea FC, Adventure FC, Leads FC, Ika Bombast to mention but few.

My team, Baby Eagles then took the first trophy of the tournament by beating the Adventure FC by a lone goal. After this competition, the Managing Director of CBA pools Ltd picked a serious interest to sponsor my team that necessitated the change of name from Baby Eagles to CBA Football Club. In 1996, CBA FC, my new team, won the 2nd edition of the under 13 and after that I raised a senior team where we paraded football stars like Yemi, Igbodo and a lot of others.  Clara Angels Football Club was sponsored by Hon. Hilary Ibude former Chairman, Ika South while Abundance Queens Football club was sponsored by Chief Jude Ogbekile.

I registered them into leagues and we traveled far and near where most of us were exposed to some areas we had not been.

After my secondary school in 1993, I secured a private job with Enyikokome Rural Development Union in Agbor in partnership with Ford Foundation, USA. Then, I was the Program Assistant. I assisted by bringing women who were traders in rural communities into groups where we assisted them with loan at a minimal interest rate of 3%. Though it was a revolving loan, in the case of the men, we were giving them farming loans. This enabled me to go round almost all the communities in Ika and beyond Ika nation. I was the officer in-charge of Abavo Cassava Processing Project which was built then at Ekwoma in Abavo by Enyikokome with the supervision of Technoserve, Lagos. I have used the position to empower over 5000 women and over 3000 men and the loan facilities helped to uplift their low standard of living.

As at 2010, I worked directly with the Executive Chairman, State Bureau for Pensions, Asaba and I used my position to assist the retirees from all parts of Delta State. I made sure that their documents were in order and also ensured that all retirees were paid at the right time. I believed those retirees can testify to my roles during my time at the State Pension Bureau. I am proud to say that during my time, all retirees were happy. I also appreciated my boss, Chief (Mrs.) Christiana Sikpere; she was an understandable boss. We worked as a family and shared ideas together. This cooperation actually gave us positive results.

Coming back as the Special Assistant to the Executive Chairman of SUBEB, Hon. Sunny Ogwu, it was an added advantage to me to continue my humanitarian services.  From September 2015 to May 2018, our results were outstanding. I am proud to say that what we achieved, no SUBEB management has ever achieved such feat. We succeeded because the Governor of the State, His Excellency, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa supported us greatly. Almost all communities were touched with furniture, construction of classrooms, renovations, execution of water projects and constructions of modern toilets. Some schools were provided sports equipments. Evidences are everywhere to attest to our performance under the leadership of Hon. Sunny Ogwu. Even when the House of Representatives Committee paid the board visit to check projects done by the board, the committee chairman, after going round in the state with his members, were very happy and expressed his surprise at the great feat, saying that Delta State remains the best they have so far visited.

As Special Assistant, last year, I bought text books for all the pupils in Agwai Primary School, Aliagwai and I employed a graduate to conduct lessons for primary five and six. She was on my monthly payroll. I also encouraged some widows and students with monthly stipends. I have assisted many people in securing good jobs within and outside the state.

 

So what are your principles about life?

My priority is honesty, humbleness, love, and caring spirit. I also like people who are not self-centered and I cherish carrying people along.

 

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