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Read Pete Edochie View about Celebrities Winning Elections

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Read Pete Edochie View about Celebrities Winning Elections


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Veteran Nigerian actor, Pete Edochie shared his thoughts on Nigerian celebrities going into politics. The softspoken actor told Punch that he doesn’t see a problem in the movement.

How would you react to artistes’ involvement in politics?

There is nothing wrong with that. If an artiste decides to go into
politics, it is welcome. In some parts of the world, you have people who
take time off from acting to go into politics. In the United States of
America, for instance, we have Ronald Reagan, who was a Hollywood actor
that later went into politics, eventually becoming the President of the
US. (Arnold) Schwarzenegger, as you know, is also a Hollywood actor. He
got into politics and became the Governor of California. There is
nothing wrong with it at all.

Observers have been asking, ‘Why are many artistes rushing into politics at the same time?’

What is wrong with that? Most of those actors are brilliant young men
(and women) and I think they can make some good contributions; unlike
most of the people who are there, who just cart away money and don’t
contribute anything. I think it is good for the industry. We’ve got to
let the nation know that these are not dropouts. They are well-educated
young men (and women) who can hold their own anywhere in the world. If
they go into politics and they are voted for, fantastic! I will be very
happy about it.

Politics is largely about leadership. Some have questioned whether these artistes have the requisite experience to govern.

How many politicians do you know that had to undergo tutelage
anywhere before they went into politics? If you have the requisite
qualification and you are running your family without interference from
others; if you can run your family, you can run a country. I have been
running my family for the past 45 years and I can run the country
comfortably. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. People go
on and on about leadership. If you are well-educated and you know what
your priorities are, that is what makes leadership. It is not just
saying, ‘I am a leader.’ No. How you react to challenging situations is
what makes you a leader. Therefore, I believe that these artistes, if
they are given the opportunity, can make their mark. I am in support of
them.

What innovations do you think artistes can bring to governance in Nigeria?

That is hypothetical. Why don’t you wait until the artiste goes in?
It is like someone going to get married, and you say, ‘Don’t you think
your first child is going to be a boy?’ It is hypothetical. Let us wait
until they get it; we see the situations that will confront them and
then we determine from their reactions what quality of leadership they
have.

A controversial artiste recently criticised the idea of
artistes going into politics, saying a lot of them don’t have anything
to offer and that they want to embezzle money. Does he have a point?

He is entitled to his opinion on any issue whatsoever. There is
nothing wrong in his opinion. I mean, I am talking to you; I have never
met you. But if tomorrow you say you’re going into politics, I wouldn’t
say you’re going to be a thief, when I have never read from anywhere
that you stole something. The artiste you referred to always wants to be
sensational. I am not for sensationalism; I am being practical. I
retired from the civil service as a director and a big one too. There is
nobody in the industry that got to that mark before retiring, if they
got into the civil service at all. When I make comments, I make
constructive, philosophical, critical, mature comments. I don’t just
talk carelessly. If somebody says he is going into politics, fine;
encourage that person. We are always talking about lack of leadership.
How do you know if somebody can lead, if you don’t give him the
opportunity? That is my contention. If anybody says he is getting into
politics, give the person a chance. If the people who are going to vote
for him vote for him because they know who he is, who are we to
challenge his choice? This is why I believe the artistes who want to go
into politics are entitled to their choice of life outside of acting. It
doesn’t make them any less of actors. But when they get into political
office, we can then assess them. After all, Abike Dabiri-Erewa was on
television; then she went into politics and my assessment of her is that
she has been doing marvelously well. And she’s not the only person.
Let’s give them a chance.

Politicians are arguably unpopular mainly for failing to
fulfill the promises they make during elections. Coming from the world
of make-believe, do you think these artistes may be faced with the
dilemma of proving to the electorate that they are not ‘acting’?

It’s like someone saying, ‘If he goes into politics, what is he going
to do? Won’t he be seeing politics as just another arena for
histrionics?’ If I can stay with my family, with my wife, for 45 years,
and nobody has come in to say, ‘Please, stop beating her up’ or ‘Please,
stop insulting this man’; if I can raise my five sons through the
university; if I can sit down and say proudly, ‘Today, I have 10
grandchildren and I am expecting more,’ don’t you think I can run a
country if asked to? Don’t you think if given a portfolio, I can defend
it?

I left the civil service as a director. I ran a radio station and it
was voted the best radio station in the country. I was doing that
because the British Broadcasting Corporation trained me. If it is
decided tomorrow that I should be given an appointment as Chairman of
the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, are you going to say, ‘He
doesn’t have any experience’? Are you going to say, ‘He will just be an
actor’? No. This is why I am saying we are jumping the gun. Why don’t
you allow them to contest first? If they win, assess them through their
reactions to challenging situations. This is what makes a man. You’re
not going to say, ‘Because this man was an actor for a couple of years,
he wants to go into politics. He can’t make it.’ That is silly. That is
nonsense. I have counted two or three actors on the international plane
who made it as actors in politics. I mentioned Ronald Reagan; he ran the
United States and he was one of the most serious, established,
dependable politicians that the Republican Party had. Again, you have
Schwarzenegger — an Austrian, by the way, being naturalised as an
American. He contested and won. There’s also a bodybuilder called Jesse
Ventura. When Ventura was doing bodybuilding and wrestling, nobody knew
he was going to make a good politician, until he became the governor of
Massachusetts. History is replete with such characters. Why should
Nigeria be different, I ask you? There is even a tendency to
under-assess people, because of what we see, and that is not fair. I am a
Christian and I am gladly one. I don’t condemn people as guilty before
they are listened to. It is like how, in Nigeria, the police beat you to
a pulp before you are proven innocent.

But then, a significant number of these artistes have had troubled marriages and other such problems on the home front…

Most of the people we have in Nigerian politics have not had marital
successes in their homes. We must be honest to ourselves. When we look
at some of the earliest breed of politicians, some of them were not
married; some of them were divorced; some were polygamous, and so on. If
you are to assess people based on their marital experiments, it may not
be a very fine yardstick for determining somebody’s political
competence, because you don’t know the circumstances that led to the
breakups. It is true that, if you have a successful marital life, it can
lead unto, again, a successful political life, because the problems you
have as a married man, one encounters along the line as a politician.
More so, it is because of the individuals who are unmanageable,
cantankerous, cranky, or irresponsible. But you have to look for what is
acceptable in their characters. There are people who have ineradicable
flaws in their constitution; still, there are redeeming aspects in their
personal lives. When you get to meet such people, get what you think is
a plus from them. It is just like managing footballers. Footballers are
very difficult characters to manage. A lot of them have habits I
wouldn’t really like to talk about. But when they get into the field of
play, they score goals and they win odds. That is their area of
specialisation. It is difficult to find a person who is perfect. If
people say, because these people have had failed marriages, they cannot
succeed, that is not a fair assessment. It’s not proper to assess
somebody like that. I believe, in all honesty, that the people who will
vote for them are people who already know them; people who have
interacted with them one-on-one and are in a position to tell you how
good or disagreeable they are. Why don’t we leave this to the electorate
to handle?

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1 Comment on "Read Pete Edochie View about Celebrities Winning Elections"

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Victor Ndah
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Ah think he has a point when saying "there is nothing wrong" and even went as far as using US as an example. Nice thought @ Pete Edochie.

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