22nd February, 2013
Prince Ifeanyi Dike, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN), returned home on Sunday night after undergoing routine medical check up in India. He tells BAYO ADETU about his experience, interest in politics and other issues
How has it been?
God has been awesome and He has really held me under His wings. I’m happy to be back in Nigeria. My activities will start immediately because there is no food for a lazy man. We will continue to struggle, hustle and work hard to put food on the table.
Are there people you want to specially thank for their support while you were ill?
The list is endless. I thank God for using a lot of people to make it possible for me to be alive. Some of them actually want to remain anonymous because of their position in the society. I also want to thank the prayer groups and my wife because she was very supportive. In fact, if there is an award for the best wife ever, I have given it to her. Without her, I don’t think I would have pulled through.
A lot of people were surprised when you declared your intention to go into politics two weeks ago; why do you want to wade into the murky waters of Nigerian politics?
Every human being is a political animal, but it depends on how you play your own. There is family politics, religious politics and there is leadership politics, which I want to be part of this time around. What is happening in Nigeria is basically not good enough. I don’t see why an average Nigerian youth should be suffering. There is no reason people should be hungry in Nigeria with all the resources we have. The governments of the day are trying their best, but they cannot do it all, and that is why people with great ideas are coming together. I want to say that the youths, who are the leaders of tomorrow, should not shy away from politics. It is time politicians started encouraging our youths to aspire to become Local Government Chairmen or Councillors, not thugs. If the good people in this country keep quiet, we will still be experiencing bad government. The likes of Nnamdi Azikwe, Obafemi Awolowo and the great Ahmadu Bello were young, in their 30s, when they fought for the independence of this country from the British. If they had kept quiet, we won’t be where we are today. Many things are wrong in this country.
In the medical sector for instance, most doctors in Nigeria are not doing what they are supposed to do. Do you know that in India, the doctors who work in government hospitals don’t have business with private hospitals? We have health problems in Nigeria today because the doctors in government hospitals have private clinics. At the end of the day, if you go to the government hospitals, nothing will work. Such doctors sabotage government’s efforts in the health sector. I’m not trying to indict the doctors; I’m just saying that this country must move forward. Dialysis in India is not more than N10,000 but the least you can do it in Nigeria is between N45,000 and N70, 000, and people are dying because they can’t afford it. And a patient with a kidney ailment needs three dialyses a week. The government should try as much as possible to develop kidney dialysis centres. I’m not wishing Nigerians bad, but because of the fake drugs we buy everyday and all that, more people may develop kidney problems. The dialysis should also be affordable. Can you believe that most of the people I did dialysis with are all dead? In view of all these problems, I and some of my friends have decided that since we cannot use any of the existing political platforms to express our mind, we now want to have our own political party in the name of Great Nigeria Democratic Party, GNDP. It is a party purely for youths, so anybody above 60 years cannot join. As a new party, we are starting with the local government elections. If we can win enough local government elections, we can build our portfolio from there and may be vying for state governorship in future.
Nigeria is a rich country. Recently, Boeing Airline was saying on CNN that Nigeria is one of the countries that buy more private jets. The country is rich but most of our leaders are mismanaging it. In other countries, people laugh at us. They say “these people are rich, but they are stupid.”
You need to see the rate at which Nigerians come to India for treatment, most times with the wrong diagnosis. Gani Fawehinmi was diagnosed as having pneumonia in Nigeria, but he had cancer. Look at how that great man died because of the carelessness of some Nigerian doctors. I think it is time doctors who do wrong diagnosis should be arrested.
As the Board of Trustees Chairman of the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria, AGN, did you play any role in the guild while in India?
There was nothing that happened in AGN that I wasn’t aware of. While in India, I was being briefed constantly on the activities of the guild because there were some decisions that needed my consent as the chairman. We now have a new leadership in the person of Ibinabo Fiberesima. She is a wonderful lady who has shown commitment and leadership qualities within the short period that she took over. You see, people are blessed in different ways. That lady is a wonderful crowd puller, a motivator. I have been told that she has met with the veterans and brought them together. People like Zebrudaya are now back and they are now speaking with one voice; this is something that has not been done before. There is peace and unity in Nollywood now.
In fact, it is high time the government started giving AGN subventions. The guild has more than one million members nationwide and we need subventions to move the guild forward. If you go to India, their actors and actresses are millionaires. These people make good money because they have more than 30,000 cinema houses in their country. But for a few companies like Glo, how many actors will ride big cars? Glo has spent a lot of money by making our people ambassadors, but in the time of actors like Garuba and Gringory, there was no Glo in existence; and that is why you see most of those people die in penury. Another advice I will like to give the younger actors who are making money is to invest well, and being a star doesn’t mean you should disrespect your elders in the industry because there were people at the top before you.
Is it true that AGN now has a chapter in India?
Yes. When I got to India, I inaugurated a chapter there, which was well received. It has been registered with the Indian government. One of our aims is to shoot movies with Indian stars and take advantage of the country’s population, because if you shoot a film in India, and you show it in their cinemas, you will become very rich. Indians like entertainment and they are wonderful people. They are very creative and accommodating.
What lesson have you learnt about life, since you did the kidney transplant in India?
I have learnt that life is vanity. Do you know that the easiest thing to do is to worship God? But the devil presents it as a difficult thing so that you won’t do it. The only thing God demands from us is obedience. But the devil will use tricks to make us disobey Him. The problem we have as human beings is that we don’t obey. I have learnt to obey God’s callings. I have learnt a lot of things and that there is nothing in life. I have seen the bad, good and ugly. You know that the life of an entertainer is all about clubbing, dancing and going to parties, but I have seen that there is nothing there. It is not as if I won’t go to parties again. The parties I will attend now are the ones that will praise God. Not the parties where people will fight; stab themselves or kill somebody. I have come to realise that there is no problem that is bigger than God, no matter how difficult it might be to us. In fact, I have given my life to Christ. The things I used to do, I do them no more. So anybody that expects to see me in bars will be disappointed; though that does not mean I won’t socialise again. And if you still want to be my friend, there are things you should not discuss with me again. Say those things and I will cut you off.
What did you think was the cause of the ailment?
There are many things that can cause this kind of ailment. If your blood pressure is high and you don’t check it, it will crash your kidney. If you take fake medical products, it can also crash your kidney. It is also dangerous to take too much of salt. And if your urine foams, that means you are discharging protein and it is not good, so you need to go and check yourself. There are things I don’t eat again now. I don’t eat beans, plantain, egg, meat and many other things like that. I don’t even drink milk or take butter. I have disciplined myself to a new regiment of meals.