Comic actor Charles Awurum has been gracing the canvas for years. The actor who even dismissed Emeka Ihedioha as governor of Imo State was the Special Entertainment Assistant. He talks to SAM ANOKAM in his four months of experience as SA, his fight with Bobrisky, what he is currently doing among other current issues.
You were Governor Emeka Ihedioha's special advisor for four months before the Supreme Court thought otherwise. what were you able to do in that short period of time?
It was a very short period. We did not have in mind that it would be short, but we were able to positively impact the state. When we took office, I discovered that there were problems between the guilds. For example, the actors' guild has a problem that lasts eight years. There were two factions in which the then governor Rochas Okorocha intervened, but was unable to resolve. I brought the two factions together and resolved the whole issue, and they were all happy.
I walked through other guilds like producers, directors, musicians, Disk Jockeys, etc. – I tried to gather all the artists. We start with a clean slate. I felt that entertainment only happened in Owerri, the capital, and so I decided to transfer some of the entertainment to local governments. We did all this and started to attract people from outside the state, even in the diaspora.
We started hunting for talent across the state in the 27 local governments to finish in December, but it wasn't. It was not easy. When I entered, some people felt that the governor brought in someone who is not based in Owerri and that they needed someone who was in the state. They forgot that I was in Owerri and worked with the art council. I also worked with IBC (Imo Broadcasting Corporation) for a long time before leaving Owerri. Then, someone feeling that he was appointed before me as Ihedioha's personal assistant, felt that my appointment would overwhelm his and started campaigning against me.
When people realized it wasn't true, he went crazy. Although he was there before me, he was working for the governor as a band man. I was going through a thick atmosphere, but I managed to make productions. If you came to the state during my short but busy period, I would appreciate Imo. The governor and the people were happy. If we had been given more time, Imo would have been something else now. But the supreme court has decided on its own to remove Imo from Ihedioha and that will do a lot of damage not to Ihedioha, but to the great people of Imo who saw the light coming. If you saw the change at Imo in seven months, you would know that the governor had a vested interest in making Imo a great place for people to stay. I shouldn't be quiet because an artist should be the mirror of society and not because I worked for the PDP government. When you see the truth, you say. The judiciary did not do well. They decided on their own to destroy Imo.
The new governor can act, but everyone knows that Ihedioha was moving at a very fast pace in the development of the state and the entertainment sector was booming. Usually, in this climate, when you make an appointment, people believe they are going there to get money; therefore, anything you do to prevent them from taking the money they would like from your neck. That's exactly what happened to me. But my intention was to work with the spirit in which the governor came – to develop as much entertainment as possible. This interruption was not good for the people of the state of Imo.
Despite the interruption, what are the things that you continue to do personally that you would have done for the State via entertainment if you had more time?
I'm an actor, producer and director. I will be doing my productions. I can go to the Imo state to record my films. So, I had to talk to some of these marketers, producers to go back to Imo to work together, to see how we can increase our people. The talent at Imo is enormous. When I was hunting talent in the state of Abia, a few years ago, I went to the 17 local governments and saw it waste talent.
I wanted to raise young people, join them with the stars and cultivate them. Now, I still have the opportunity, but it wouldn't be that big. I can only do what I can do alone. My intention was to take the productions to the Imo state.
Since you started out as a comic book actor, Nollywood really had no more likes coming in, why does that happen?
By the time we were up there, most of the productions you know usually feature comedic acts that complement each other, like Ibu, Victor Osuagwu and the rest. They were allowed to express themselves.
Nobody oppressed anyone and our duty is not even to train people, it is the duty of producers. Our own must be called to come and act. Anyone who is telling you that we do not prepare others should know that it is not our fault. The truth is that we decided not to follow what is happening now. When a production would be made with N200,000 and people would not listen to him for not making that production. They want to be stars, they want to be known, but in the end, these productions that you do or sell. Before, someone receives N200,000 to record a film, they will beg, this time they will not even beg again, it is the actors who will beg. They will not be paid, fed, receive accommodation. How they suffer throughout production is none of their business.
Which is why you don't see most of us on sets right now. If you don't pay me what I'm worth, I won't act. There is no need to graduate, everyone knows you and you have no money. Like what the president of the actor guild is doing now, if it continues this way, things will certainly change. It is the first time that I see something like this. If nothing is done now to change the attitude of the producers, things will spoil. You see actors going out to steal because they're not making any money yet, they don't become that star. When you produce a substandard film, it cannot sell. We did our best. I even created some people. Now they are popular, but I don't want to mention names. We did our best.
Some time ago, you were involved in a controversy with Bobrisky, what really happened?
I really wasn't fighting Bobrisky. I was trying to inform society, in addition to addressing producers who think they can make money from things that cannot help young people. When you see someone who shouldn't be an inspiration, you want to make that person a role model. A model for whom? We have some who never wanted to raise their heads, but because of Bobrisky, they started to appear. I felt bad when I saw a production with Bobrisky in it. We shoot films where we use men to behave like women and we all know that he is a man, but not someone who has changed sex, behavior and you want young people to imitate that person.
Once you start using it that way, you create more. It is an offense in this country. Everyone knows that and is still quiet. Nobody wants to speak and even those who made the law are saying nothing. He is unduly influencing the next generation.
I really wasn't happy about it. I have to say my mind. Fortunately, this reduced his being in production. As they say, if he dies and there is heaven and he goes there, God would not know if he is the person who created it. Our society is not the western world. We have our culture. I also screamed when pornography started in Nigeria. This is not good. Our society does not approve of this. You will see children who don't know what they are getting into are attracted to it. And will the producer be happy to earn his money? I will always speak
This Bobrisky case made me crazy. The brother of the producer of this film, who is my friend, called to ask why I was attacking Bobrisky, I said bros, first of all, I didn't know that you are the owner of this film. Second, you shouldn't do things like that just because you want to make money.
Once again, when Ihedioha was removed by the supreme court, the popular comedian who became a legislator, Uche Ogbuagu started saying a few things against him, what came to mind when you heard that?
Yes, I heard everything. What came to mind was that politicians are not to be trusted. You don't have to be a human being to be a politician. A human being you call your friend who you eat and drink with, suddenly something happens to him, you abandon him and start saying things about him. Even if you abandon it and be quiet, it is a different thing. When you start saying certain things, people know that this is not true. Uche Ogbuagu is my very good friend and brother, but I was not happy with what happened because I know the relationship between him and Ihedioha. If there is a problem, Ogbuagu will have access to the governor and the governor will respect him. I don't know where it came from. At the time when our governor was suffering, most of his friends left him. Some of his brothers also abandoned him. It is just an image of the world. In the case of Ihedioha, use it to find out what can happen to you tomorrow. I know how good Ihedioha was for all of us. Most of our politicians are not human beings. They are only there for your personal gain, not for the people who voted for you.
With what you did, with your background, if this current governor calls you to continue what was started, do you accept it?
I think not. Not because of anything, but I needed to rest from what I experienced. I needed to sit down and really know what I want. I'm not a politician, it really affected me. I love Imo. I can do anything for the State, but for now, I need to ask myself a few questions. I'm on vacation, maybe when I get back, we can talk to whoever's there.