What have you been up to, because you have not been in the scene for a while?
Dickson Iroegbu is still there, just that I haven’t been churning out films like I used to, but am back now. Sabbatical is allowed in this job you know, especially when one is plotting the next phase of his. Film making is like life itself, and God who is the ultimate filmmaker even though He allows us to enjoy the liberty of His permissive will, yet He is still in charge of the template we are going to 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. I realised that one of the major challenges we have in the country today is leadership –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 leadership recruitment process in Nigeria. 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 Matter. We campaigned for GEJ’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 film making completely, what other things were you doing at the background?
Yes, I have a program on TV called, Nigeria Right Now (with Dickson Iroegbu), a current affairs program showing on AIT. I also went back to the class, attending film festivals to study other filmmakers, 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 film making 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 it. Like my film right now, ‘The Good Husband’, you can see life the way it is. How did we get to the point where a husband and wife will want to kill themselves? ‘The Good Husband’ comes with answers to some of the questions that these issues have thrown up. ‘The Good Husband’ is also expected to re-engineer the minds of these conflicting individuals, these husbands and wives, who exchange conflicts everyday, here and there.
What’s the concept of ‘The Good Husband’? How did it come about?
You know I am a public figure and my story is out there in the public domain. I have my fair share of conflict in marriage. I had my fair share of ups and downs that comes with the conflict 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; those who know me well, will testify that I fear God, although being in showbiz makes people appear like Satan itself, but Dickson Iroegbu fears God. So, with the inspiration I got during my wilderness period – during my marriage challenge period, 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, trees, 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, Adam was not lonely, he was alone and God saw that and cast Adam to a deep sleep and when the guy woke up and saw Eve, then, he said this is the flesh of flesh and bone if 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 happening in Nigeria today, including the kind of leadership we have in Nigeria today, we could trace it down to the family unit, and you will find out where the whole thing disconnected. ‘The Good Husband’ is a story that is coming from the premise of a divine inspiration to discuss issues that people face in marriages.
Why ‘The Good Husband’, because marriage is not all about a man, why 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 actualized 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. ‘The Good Husband’ captures the view of the man in marriage, the issues that men have in marriage, what are those issues? And again, how do they treat their wives, or how should they treat their wives to get better results. These are the issues discussed in ‘The Good Husband’. I was deliberate about it because I was trying to place the issue on the right table, and it comes on the man’s table in marriage, no matter how you look at it. 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’s not most of the time from the woman’s perspective, most times it’s also from the man’s perspective.
But do you think it will have any positive effect on the society?
It will have a lot of effect. It will generate a lot of discourse out there, some may agree with the film, some may not agree. For example I asked in the film, through one of the scenes, I asked, ‘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’s rape, and I ask, what do you mean by give consent? You are married to the guy, what more is consent? The consent was given the day you said, ‘yes I do’, that’s consent. 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 the bed, and he says ‘babe what’s up’ and you are like, ‘leave me alone’, no! that’s a mistake that you are making there. Infact that’s betrayal of that oneness that you both activated. And it applies both ways, anytime you deny each other of sexual intimacy, then 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 begins to set in, and if you don’t manage it well, too bad. That’s why we are having the level of divorce rates out there. In Abuja alone, they said there are over 4000 divorce cases in court, just Abuja, what of Lagos and other states? The movie will definitely make positive impact, infact, it is a recommendation for every family, whether the married or unmarried. It goes beyond Nigeria, because even in America, Europe, you can see that there are high level of divorce rates, 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 a husband and wife. 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 14th, no, love should be 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 arms against his beloved.
So you are saying ‘The Good Husband’ cropped up from something personal?
(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 a marriages. I have had my own fair share of marriage and conflicts that comes with it. I am a public property and it’s out there in the open that I have had marriage issues, it’s no longer news. 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, ‘The Good Husband’ has something to do with my personal life, but it’s not particularly about my personal life, it’s in everyone’s lives, even the ones reading this and those who will watch the movie. ‘The Good Husband’ is such that everyone who is married will see himself or herself in it.
So, when are we looking at to see this film?
The film will be out on 17th of April, there will be an advanced release on 12th and 13th for the Easter holiday at the Genesis Cinema, then from the 17th it will be officially released in Cinemas across the country. Like I said, everything we did in this movie was deliberate. There is a Christian perspective, but it is not a religious movie. I say this with every sense of responsibility because you cannot discuss marriage without what you believe in. What I believe in, is Christianity and I believe that marriage is a sacred institution, according to the tenets of the Bible. Beyond that I also delved into the Islamic side of marriage. Why do Muslims have more than one wife? What is it that will make a Muslim have more than one wife? What qualifies a Muslim to take another wife? Those elements were discussed in the film, and it also captures all these angles, to show that the filmmaker is set out to educate, and not just to entertain and make money. I want to use this medium to appeal to everyone out there to support my ministry by going to the cinema from April 17th. I will gladly tell you that you will not regret the time you spent in the cinema to see this film. I guarantee that if you do not like the film, I will return your money. The purpose of the film is to get the society to rethink itself, and realise that we can only have a better society if we start from the family unit. After April 17th, we expect to tour the world as we will also go to different cinemas across the globe and release the film, because it is a quality film. The theme on marriage is universal, so we will go around the world. I am looking forward to hear a thank you from my fans, while I make a lot of money. Teamwork Studios Limited wishes to continue making more films about the family after this, you know I love family stories, that’s where I have interest. Even in my past movies, I delved more into family and society, I do not just delve into the world of fantasy to activate that philosophy if filmmaking business, which says that film is make-believe. Yes, film making is make-believe, but you have to believe it when you see it.