‘The current government is trying on youth empowerment but it is not grassroots oriented’
VETERAN actor, Jibola Dabor is now a politician. Not only that, he is also aiming at occupying a seat at the lower chamber of the National Assembly, representing Owo federal constituency, Ondo State, starting from May 29, 2015.
The popular entertainer spoke exclusively on this on Saturday, November 16, 2013, when we visited him at his cousin’s residence in Magodo, Lagos.
It’s a response to the call of the people, especially the youths in my place. It has been going on for a while, and I keep telling people I am not a politician. Then, when I was honoured as an ambassador of culture and tourism in my state, I saw how my name and face were being politicized. The way I was always invited to functions and all that. I now discovered that I have been in politics already. So, what am I now waiting for? Why not go ahead and use my cherished God’s given skill to represent my people. So, that’s the major reason I decided to come out and declare my intention.
Which of the elective posts are you vying for come 2015
I am going for the House of Representatives to represent Owo Federal Constituency (Ondo State).
Under the umbrella of which of the political parties would that be?
I am yet to declare for any political party. I am not looking for a party to give me money, I am coming out to see if I can help my people determine where to go and what will be better for us.
Labour Party is the ruling party in your state, what’s your view about that?
It’s true that Labour Party is the ruling party in the state now but everybody knows that there is no telling what is going to happen next in Ondo State. So, I don’t intend to impose any party on these people who want me as their leader. I want to make sure first, that I am accepted by my people as their representative. So, when I get their mandate as their representative, it’s then we can now talk about the party.
Maybe because of what I have done in the past for ACN in Lagos, and that wasn’t about the party. I saw what Governor Raji Fashola was doing, and we saw that his performance was like a replica of what Chief Obafemi Awolowo did in the West. And we came out as artistes to rally round Fashola. For example, if you see what I did on the global warming, I think I was the oldest and the only big name in what we did for Fashola. I was not thinking of politics then, it was done out of goodwill. And again, when I was invited to a symposium where I spoke about the roles of youths in Ondo State, I spoke about the good things that Governor Mimiko was doing. And I told them about continuity because I knew quite alright that Mimiko would come out for second term. So, doing all these, I wasn’t talking about political parties but individuals and what good they’re doing.
But if you’re asked to choose a political party now, which one will you go for?
That’s not what I can be disclosing right now.
I just want to make sure there is what is called the correct representation of the people. I mean, understanding what you’re meant to be doing. And again, that’s one of the major reasons I don’t want to come through a party platform. So, I don’t become a puppet that will have a remote control somewhere. I know one way or the other there must be a remote control somewhere but then it’s much more visible than others in some situations. So, I want a situation that whoever is the political mogul behind whichever platform I actually come out from would know that it is the people who want me. I don’t want to be put there. I don’t want to be imposed on the people through any party platform. I have seen how political representation is being done in my state. I believe we have not tapped seriously into the cultural values of the people. And I know this can be developed, and also there is need to work on the area of youth empowerment. The current government is trying on youth empowerment but the scheme is not grassroots oriented. And it weighs heavily on the government in terms of money to actualize it. But for those of us who grew up there, who were part of the rural development, we understand that there are some untapped opportunities in the areas that they need to be exposed. And I also know that the voice of my people has not been heard at the federal level. I am sure if I get there, I have the voice that can project them. I know what my people want. I have identified with them. I know I can represent them better than anybody else could.
As an entertainer, what gives you the impression that you can do better?
When you’re an entertainer and you’re a good one, you research and get into the minds of your people. Let me tell you, I am not going there as an entertainer really, I am going there as a person born in the constituency, who grew up in that constituency, and understands the needs and problems of the people in the constituency. And in addition, I also know how to talk. I also know how to appeal to the people.
You understand that politics in Nigeria is do or die, are you prepared for this?
I, for one, don’t subscribe to do or die of a thing in politics. I have said times without number that I don’t condone politics that’s infested by thuggery. I don’t have the heart for that kind of politics. And I hope that we can have the opportunity to see a free and fair election happen in our state in 2015. I also want to show the youths that they shouldn’t allow themselves to be used as thugs. A lot of them are already talking to me. “We have done this to so, so person, we have done this we have done that.” All they are after now is if I will follow up with what I am promising to do. And they also know that collecting money before voting for somebody, which they have done in the past didn’t pay then. I wasn’t there but they’ve told me themselves. And I also understand that if you don’t think you have what it takes to do the job and you come out, you will begin to think of fighting. If you know you’re qualified, you throw it to them, let them decide if they actually want you. And which is also the reason I have not lobbied anybody or party to come out. I believe the most important thing is for your people to say they want you. So far that’s been achieved, I have less to worry about. If the people say this is not what they want, then if you impose anybody on them, definitely they won’t accept that person.
We all understand that politics is not a gentleman’s game. Also, one must have money or a godfather that will be pumping in the money…
(Cuts in) It’s not exactly correct that politics is not a gentleman’s game. I can’t agree with you on that. We have a lot of gentlemen in politics. There may be few who don’t really understand what a gentleman is. Number two, you talked of the money, it’s true I don’t have the money but we’re advocating to these people that they should not accommodate anybody coming to share money because if the person eventually gets there, they are going to pay back the money they have shared. It means he has paid you to vote for him, which also means you have no say if he doesn’t represent you well. But because of the level of poverty in this community, I agree that you need money for certain things. They have to keep following you around, you have to sponsor a lot of things for them. Even me that’s just coming out, they have been telling me I have to be attending functions. They said they know I don’t have the money but I just have to be doing certain things to keep myself in the mind of the people. I realized that even if I don’t have the millions, I still have to spend some money, trying to let the people know you appreciate them.
Just some days back, some of your colleagues in the English movie genre celebrated 20 years of Nollywood which has attracted some criticisms by some people in the industry, what’s your own view about it?
I think people misunderstand the coinage, Nollywood. It was 20 years ago they coined the name, Nollywood and that was what they celebrated. It’s not about the time we started film making in Nigeria. We had started making films ever before the name, Nollywood was coined out. We have been coming on television in Nigeria here since late 70s. I have been going back and forth from the States to Nigeria to do TV series, there was nothing like Nollywood then. But most of the people who came up with Nollywood are the ones whose career is based on home videos. So, to me what they celebrated is the time they named the industry, Nollywood. You and I know that Dinner with the Devil was produced in the 70s, Baba Ogunde and others had produced a lot of films way back, maybe when some of these so-called super stars were still toddlers.
– TADE ASIFAT