Worried by a raft of infractions and defections, Okey Ezeh has dumped the All Progressive Grand Alliance, (APGA) to become the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party. He tells Adedayo Adejobi why he defected, his grievances with APGA and what he would do differently if elected governor
I built APGA from scratch
When we delved into politics, we didn’t ask to be favoured, no; we just wanted a chance to stand on a robust platform that would give us the capacity to redeem our dear Imo and her people. I have always been associated with the All Progressive Grand Alliance, (APGA) in Imo. That’s a party I built from the scratch until some people hijacked, and reduced a one-time colossal institution with an efficacy for better governance in the southeast in the days of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), to a midget, that can’t even conduct a primary! The treachery and cold -scripted usurping took the fire of rejuvenation out of my soul.
But when one of Martin Luther King Jnr’s maxim “fierce urgency of the now”, dropped in my soul, a light shone before me, showing me the path, I must follow, the path I must thread, to deliver my Imo from misery. Her future became too paramount than whatever aspiration I have been nursing, which took several seats behind. Her gentle sobs filters wistfully in my soul in the middle of every night and the need to re-strategise was born. Every agnostic voice was swept under the rug and the yearning of the people, my people prevailed. That is why SDP is standing in the gap for Imo.
Why I defected
If a party can’t conduct its own primaries, pray, tell, how can such party garner the interest of the people? We have decided in our magnanimity to take Imo out of the hands of those that seek her destruction daily by seeking out refuge in a more democratically configured political party in the name of SDP. Gratefully, I am the governorship candidate of SDP in Imo today. SDP as a party may not be out there in people’s faces, but it’s a political party that Nigerians must consciously look at closely. It’s driven by galaxy of men who have over the time proven that integrity is the nucleus of their being.
I had the opportunity to join the SDP twice. Call it fate or providence, I am home now after allowing the opportunity pass the first time. I don’t believe in accidents, neither do I believe in luck. I am a stronger believer of fixing the block. So, by the time the opportunity presents itself, I am well laid and ready to carry on. Unfortunately, today, APGA is no longer one of the giants in Imo. This leaves All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the feat to pilot the affairs of the sophistication called Imo. Ironically, they have made a poor showing of their capacity and capability to govern my Imo.
Not with her literacy rate which is second to none in the federation or her rich history that has riveted the average Imolite who is politically astute. It is worrisome how my dear Imo has gone between hands of contractors to business men who have made politics their retirement game plan or those whose main source of livelihood is politics. The way my dear Imo is passed from hand to hand like a harried trade to be learned by a half-baked apprentice hurriedly passing the baton to the would-be conjurer, that paints the whole of Owerri in green and white and leave debris of over six feet stretching through the length and breadth of Douglas Road in a rare show of global best practices to share Oxygen with her populace.
We need corporate governance laid on proper structure that understands the nitty-gritty of global best practices, not this elaborate apprenticeship that harangues its way into becoming what it wasn’t meant for. It’s like a tout at Amakohia who ekes a living loading buses to the many varsities within the state now donned with a professorial hood and elected as the Vice-Chancellor. Personally, I think enough is enough. The masses are done bearing the brunt of this type of system that profits no one but itself. The Imo voter knows where his bread is being buttered. I will advise they get their PVCs en masse and watch out for SDP. We have been here for more than awhile. You would recall MKO Abiola ran under this platform. What we concern ourselves about really is the tenacity of purpose, character and integrity we bring to the job. That, for us, is everything! Going down memory lane, Imo has always been a very interesting case study of the underdog knocking out the supposedly powerhouse at the time it matters most.
Right from the days of Samuel Mbakwe, it was no news when Rochas Okorocha blew past a sitting governor to be the present governor, even when no one paid him attention. But that’s not the issue. The real problem is the fact that my dear Imo and her people have been passed through several years of less than optimal governance, and the cry for change has reached a feverish pitch. Wouldn’t it be akin to madness if you desperately want to change your life and you keep your routine set in stone? Politics in Imo has progressed beyond party system. The people are more-keen on individuals and what they can bring to the table. The people are done with the rug of filth sweeping through the state capital to the pothole ridden roads their children and young adults ply to their various institutions of learning every day.
We need someone that can clean out corruption; build new, and maintain the already existing infrastructures, create multiple opportunities for employment, and constantly engages in training and retraining of our youths and workforce. With all due respects to my fellow contestants, it is obvious I stand head and shoulders above the rest of the lot.
There should be no fear about a change that sweeps through the people holding the mantle of leadership. I am who I have always been, a man of my word. Not after many years of investing time, energy, and resources, political leadership is something born out of the need and burning drive to better the lot of the whole of Imo and her 5.3 million citizens. We deserve a better deal. Compromise is not an option, reason we are here to stand in the gap.
My agenda, Imo Martial Plan
When we take over the mantle of leadership in Imo, physical prudence will be the centre piece of our administration. It will be instituted within our first 100 days in office. Our finance will be re-circuited to work for us. Cutting off overheads will be a priority. Our infrastructure is in a very deplorable state at the moment. We will seek ways to improve on what’s on ground and build more of a standard quality.
Grooming Talents for the Entertainment Industry
Shortly after MultiChoice Nigeria officially announced, on 15 January, that the audition for this year’s edition of Big Brother Naija, the hit television reality show, will hold on 1 and 2 February, the news went viral. In just a few minutes, I noticed that the DStv Instagram followers increased by over 2,000, as though this was a prerequisite for being selected as a housemate at the audition venue.
Indeed, for several weeks the call for BBNaija audition remained a trend on social media and online platforms, displacing politics and politicians.
Young Nigerians in the diaspora discussed how they would plan their trips back to Nigeria for the audition, while some talked about what they believe the judges will look out for at the audition venue. Still, others talked about how they prefer watching BBNaija to vote.
The organisers deserve credit for heeding the call of many Nigerians to host the show in Nigeria as well as the plan to have the show kick off after the general elections. That way, accusations of discouraging voters from participating in the elections are foreclosed
I am astounded as to what this reality show is all about. The simple response I got from my 18-year-old niece is: “Once you enter the Big Brother House as a nobody, you come out as a star.” As optimistic as her response sounded, I still believe that she is not far from the truth. The reality show has over the years helped to groom local talent into big players in the nation’s entertainment industry.
Prior to 2006, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, who has anchored the reality show twice, was not known in the entertainment industry. But after the reality show, Ebuka signed endorsement deals with a major telecommunications brand as well as a popular brewing company and as such hosted Friend or Foe on NTA, the GLO Show, also on NTA, as well as Guinness’ Greatness TV. He also maintained a weekly column called Contrast in ThisDay for four years. He has equally written for other publications, including What’s New and Ace Magazines. Ebuka was also a presenter on Ebony Life TV.
I am certain that his achievements since the first edition of Big Brother Nigeria made the organisers of reality show invite him to host the show in 2017 and 2018.
Another 2006 BBN housemate that has achieved a lot is Gideon Okeke. After appearing in the first edition of the reality show, Gideon joined the cast of M-NET daytime series, Tinsel, as Phillip Ade Williams, the arrogant son of a media mogul. He remains one of the longest-serving actors on the show. Gideon has also appeared on the South African TV series, Jacobs Cross. In 2014, he played the role of Bernard in the Iroko TV series, Poisoned Bait, directed by BAFTA LA award-winning director Leila Djansi. In addition, he hosted the DStv game show, Money Drop.
Since the first edition of the reality show in Nigeria, the list of young Nigerians who have made their mark after leaving the BBN house is a long one. In 2017, Bisola Aiyeola, first runner-up, among other things, was nominated for City People Movie Award for Revelation of the Year (English) alongside Zainab Balogun, Somkele Iyamah and Seun Ajayi. In 2018, Bisola won the Trail Blazer Award at the AMVCA. Her new single, Controller, is currently riding high on the airwaves.
Many other ex-housemates of the reality show are making their mark in the entertainment industry. The zeal and passion of these ex-housemates have been a source of inspiration to many young Nigerians, who see the reality show as a platform to launch their entertainment careers.
For those that may not be selected as housemates, my advice is that they should look at the bigger picture. They should key into other opportunities that the reality show provides. The show’s eco-system is enormous vast, providing room for caterers, stylists, fashion designers, make-up artists, and TV production crew among others. Many big and small businesses will benefit immensely just because the reality show has once again returned to Nigeria.
Considering the huge investment involved in organising the reality show, the organisers deserve credit. Millions of young Nigerians are ready to watch and vote for their favourite housemate to win the reality show. But the question is: is BBNaija all that MultiChoice has to offer us?
Out of curiosity, I visited the MultiChoice Nigeria website and I discovered that besides BBNaija, the company has made and is still making tremendous investments in Nigeria.
I discovered that in the past four years, MultiChoice has spent over N64 million in training industry stakeholders alone. Just last week, the company organised a MultiChoice Talent Factory Master Class in collaboration with Dolby Institute on Sound technology. In 2014 and 2015 alone, spending over N9.98 billion in production and content acquisition And from 2011-2015, they have invested over N29.4 billion in leading-edge broadcasting technology. This provides a strong indication that MultiChoice is determined to groom local talents through original productions that will ignite Nigeria’s creative industry.
Siekpe, a filmmaker, writes from Lagos