Q= Sir How well has life been for you at 50?
A-Glory be to god. So far so good, I think I’ve enjoyed every minute of my 50 years of in existence.
Everything is unto the Lord. I’ve had my ups and downs, and challenges like every other person who has attained such an age. I really thank thy lord.
Q=Sir You look younger in your age What could be the secret?
A=Well The secret is that I don’t stress myself unnecessarily; I take things the way they come. I don’t desperately look for what I can’t get; I don’t believe I have to get it at all costs. If it comes to me I appreciate it and if it doesn’t, come in the other well it also fine.
Q=Sir What motivated you into acting is it by chance or you just have passion for it?
A-Ah! I had passion for it right from the beginning and I thank God that I am doing it well now. I didn’t come into acting by chance. The environment I lived then helped me by elevating my career. After my parents late! I lived with my big aunt in the village and a lot of activities were going on then. So, I discovered my talent that I could act dance and sing, so, I decided to go for it. While I was growing up, I just noticed that I loved acting and I went into it.
Q=Sir were you young when your parents died?
A-What a pity My mother died in 1969, to be precise, April 26th,While my father died 39 years ago.
Q=Sir does their death contribute anything in your life experience?
A-However, when it comes to this career that I have chosen , I would say their deaths were a blessing in disguise because if they were alive, they might have discouraged me from being in it fully like I said initially on that I have not been in any other profession since I started my acting career. Maybe if they were alive today, they would have discouraged me and I might not have been in this business today.So I will say that their death has made me to become an actor. But all the same, if they had been around, they might not have discouraged me. They might have supported me and that could have taken me to a zenith position that reward high merit.
Q=Sir you’re currently studying Mass Communication at the Olabisi Onabanjo University despite bagging a degree in Theatre Arts from University of Ibadan,is like an adult trying to fulfill a childhood dream, isn’t it?
A-That is exactly it I want my mission to be accomplished so that is why I have decided to go back to school. I decided not to go for Theatre Arts at the higher level because I believe that with my experience, I have done enough. So, I felt like getting another experience in another field entirely, that was why I have chosen to go for Mass Communication and I believe that at a latter day, when I retire from active acting, I may choose to go into Public Relations, that’s why I have decided to major in Public Relation. If I have my way, I will set up a public relations firm, then, I will use my stardom to boost the company boost into (laughs).
Q=Sir we learnt that You are pushing for movie con bill,That it will change the way movie business is done?
A-You are right I don’t believe in people doing something they don’t have an orientation in at times.However It is not compulsory that you have to go to the university to train as a theatre professional, but it is still good and helpful for you to have an orientation about the job, to have a tutelage under someone who has that experience, which is what I went through as well. I started my acting career with late Dele Ogunsansaya in the 70s and I had my tutelage under several beautiful people but I have been on my own for over 30 years now.
Q=Sir When do you intend to retire?
A-I intend to retire very soon by the grace of God. All things being equal, by the time I’m 60 years I will.
Q=Sir What fascinated you to think of establishing an arts studio, Is it because of the money or what?
A-Not at all It’s not because of the money.I want to leave a lasting legacy behind, so, that people will know that I have passed through this way before. I want to leave a landmark. I will establish and found an institute in which actors, directors and technical crews can be trained, if I have my way and if I have what it takes to do that. Those who go through that institution will have an opportunity to learn and at least someone will say even if I did not train directly under Dele Odule, I trained an establishment that belongs to him. That is what I want to achieve. Like I said, I am not one of those people that believes so much in acquiring wealth that I have to be strikingly rich, no. I want to be comfortable That is all I care about.
Q=Sir What did you plans for the association if you eventually win the election, you have not spoken about your plans for recent times?
A-Ho Yes, this happened because of the peculiarity of politicians telling the public what they are going to do when they get there and by the time they get there, they don’t do it again. So, I don’t want anybody to see me as one of those people. What I will just tell whoever asks me is that when I get to the bridge, I shall cross it. I am not going there because I want people to refer me as the president, no.But What I have gained in my career, the stardom I have attained so far and that I have enjoyed, the respect are enough for me. The presidency thing is not a big deal but I know I have the wherewithal to lead the association. I believe that I am qualified enough to lead the association. You see, I don’t believe (in emi ni), I believe in (awa ni). I believe in collective cooperation to achieve our goals. So, I want to bring together brains within the association to lead it to the zenith level. It’s not that I want to be at the forefront of the association, dictating.
and saying I want to lead the association, no. I have been in the system for some period. I was the Secretary General of the association in Ogun State chapter in 1982; I conducted the election that actually brought in the first elected president of this association, Ade Love, because it was after Baba Ogunde that Ade Love came in, Baba Ogunde was not elected but he was picked by the elders and he was made the life president. So, he was there until he died. But the first elected president of the Association of Theatre Arts Practitioners in 1990-91, I happened to be the head of that electoral committee. You see, I have been working in different areas of this association that could help me if I want to actually lead the association. And I actually became the vice president of the association in 1995, when Baba Jimoh Aliu was the president; I also became the deputy president of the association in 2006. So with all these, I have got enough experience to take the association to zenith.
Q=Sir Are you still insisting on not stepping down for anybody?
A-Yes! I can't step down for nobody! Why should I step down? I’ll disappoint a lot of people if I do that.
I quote “the battle is not about me, it’s about the future reference of the ANTP.”
But with your insistence that you can't step down for anybody, some people are wondering if your request for the presidency isn’t for the political power you stand to gain, otherwise, you’d step down.
Step down for Ashaolu? Nobody will tell me to step down! frankly speaking, if some set of people come on and say Dele Odule, step down, then, the post will be for who?
For who will the post fit? But If they tell me to step down for Akinwunmi Ishola, I will gladly step down. If for Kola Oyewo, I will step down. I will say ok,Because both has what it takes. They are practicing theatre arts professional, and also educated, Both has the dignity, They deserves it, I will step down.Also for Antar Laniyan, I will step down. He knows the job, he practices, he’s been in the industry for a while, he knows where the pains are, he has the education, I will say ok, I will step down, but not for the likes of Ashaolu. What has he got that I will step down for him? I will be mortgaging the future of the of the industry if I have to step down for such a person . Maybe you don’t know one fact, this person is not much into that practice, he has not been functioning in any way. Ok, it is one thing to say I am not an actor, I prefer to manage productions. How many productions has he managed? He should tell the world one. Ok, I am not an actor, I prefer to be a director. How many productions has he directed? I am not into artistic anything, ok why are you interested? I am lettered, what’s your qualification? I am well read, and then tell me your qualification? You have a diploma in Theatre Arts and that is all, nothing more. He calls himself Dr Comrade Ashaolu, does he know the meaning of comrade? I don’t always love to talk about Ashaolu because I just feel I will be making him unnecessarily popular.
The younger ones like Yemi Solade, Saidi Balogun are signifying interest in the presidency if you two will not resolve your issues on time. What’s your take on this, considering fact that the association has been without a president for too long?
That is exactly what I have been saying! You don’t impose anybody on anybody. Allow everybody to vote and bring in their leader. They know the kind of leader they want. Let them vote their leader. I am not saying I have to be voted for compulsorily or forcefully. All I am saying is to allow whoever is interested to come on board, allow those who are supposed to vote, vote for their leaders. It’s as simple as (A.B.C) That was the beginning of the fight.
Everybody generally believed that you are difficult to control and too stubborn to unruly
Why must you control me? Tell me why you want to control me. Then, what is the definition of unruly. I want to rule people and you’re saying you want to rule me. I am not saying you should rule me and you’re saying you want to rule me. Do you rule a ruler? A ruler rules. It’s not for you to rule a ruler. They would have chosen another good word like he doesn’t take to advice, that is more of it. And even if they had said that, it is too bad. Who has advised me that I have turned down his advise? It is the question? Who among them has…it is just because they believe I am too powerful for them. Why? He has the stardom. I’m telling you the thing now it’s just that they don’t know how to say it. Stardom, he has it. Connection, he has. Education, he has it. Experience, he has it. Then where do we say he doesn’t know it so that we will become champion there? But they have forgotten that even that I am not interested.
Sir Let’s talk about the drug trafficking involving Baba Suwe as a suspect, considering you once defended him that his frequent visit overseas doesn’t go into drug trafficking, now that he was arrested by NDLEA as a suspect ?
Like You said being a suspect. Anybody can be suspected, it is for you now to defend your innocence. Look, that is why I said our people need to be oriented. They need this orientation. I will say because of some things that they do that is very unusual for someone who is a theatre arts practitioner, people are bound to suspect them. For instance, we don’t praise sing. Every job has its ethics. Whatever we say, whichever character we are asked to interpret has nothing to do with anybody. It is fictitious. But by the time you now start referring to some set of people, praise singing them, you’re deviating from the ethics of the job. And that is why I have said earlier that we will cleanse the system, give them proper orientation, we will let them know the nitty gritty of the job so that they don’t deviate. Ok, when you start praising the likes of Oyenusi, the likes of Anini, you start praising the likes of Babatunde Folorunso, even if you’re not an armed robber, people will now begin to look at you as abi, he’s an armed robber. And you may not be. Now let me go back to Baba Suwe story.Nothing is found on him and there is a concrete evidence, I will see him as innocent.Therefore anybody can be a suspect.
About Baba Suwe and other cases involving Wunmi and some other people in the industry, drug cases seem to be a recurrent?
No, it’s not a recurrent thing. It is just because of the proximity between a public figure and the public. Many fabric dealers have been involved in drug trafficking and it didn’t generate publicity. A lot of drivers have been caught for same offence, yet not many people know about them because they are not public figures but ours become public consumption because of the proximity, because of our closeness to the public. If you’re just mentioning Wunmi for instance, you’re mentioning Baba Suwe, talk about another person, I will count 10 other people who are involved in drugs that are not from the industry. It is just because of the proximity. It is also the same thing with our members, let me put it like that dies and people say why are they dying like this. Let them go to the UCH, they will see a lot of people dying every day and it will not attract any publicity because there is no cause for it. But because we are very close to the people, ours become public consumption.