Segun Arinze is a household name in the Nigerian film industry. Since entering the movie scene in 1984, his unique features and mostly ‘bad boy' roles have endeared him to many. In September 2009, Segun Arinze succeeded Ejike Asiegbu as the National President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria after a drawn out tussle with other factions. NEXT caught up with the actor recently, and he shed light on some matters arising.
The leadership of AGN
There has been no running battle in the leadership of the AGN. The Actors Guild of Nigeria is one whole entity. There are no factions. It's just some aggrieved persons trying to rock the boat of our association. As far as we are concerned, that is the National Executive and the Board of Trustee. We are in coalition. We are to do our job. As I speak to you, I remain the President of AGN. So I don't see reason for any argument or running battle with anyone. And let me use this opportunity to appeal to members of the media not to help fan the embers of discord because, the more you continue to report all this negative tales, the more it make it seem like we are factionalised. We are not factionalised; I am the recognised president of AGN.
His policy thrust
My primary focus will be the welfare of actors in Nigeria. I will also set plans in motion for the discovery of more talents and help them gain their footing in the industry. To ensure that they are not exploited, that their rights are not trampled upon. We shall create the enabling environment for them to thrive, [a] peaceful environment. My administration will build academies to help train up-and-coming actors. And of course the veterans, we shall look into the issue of health insurance. As a matter of fact, there is a myriad of problem in AGN and I am sure that this administration will surmount them.
Quality of nollywood productions
In terms of quality, I will say we will get there. Rome was not built in a day. Even Bollywood did not start on such a wonderful note. They also started the way we started. One unique thing about us is that we were doing home videos directly to homes. Hollywood is even trying to adapt that. Look at Tyler Perry, for instance. Most of his films are done like ours. He does them and sends it straight to the homes. He doesn't go to the box office. He doesn't go to the cinemas. So, If someone like Tyler Perry can start copying what we do in Nigeria, it means we on the right track. We are doing well. As for quality, we'll get there gradually. As we go along, we'll talk to ourselves. We'll see things that are happening around us and take cues from other international [industries]. And mind you, facilities these days are getting better and better. People are becoming conscious of happenings around the world; you can't take the Nigerian consumers for granted anymore. The viewers can discern now. They know what they want. With the advent of cable television and satellite everywhere, they know what quality is, so you can't deceive them anymore.
Even among the actors too, you see some of them refusing to participate in some productions because they feel it's not up to the standard or quality that it should be. And the director knows now that the industry is very competitive. So, they all strive to be their best. Even producers know that if they want to make money they have to do good productions, if you don't do it your money goes down the drain. So, with this consciousness, it will only be a matter of time before Nollywood starts competing with Hollywood and Bollywood, quantity for quantity and quality for quality.
Piracy does not fall under my purview [in] AGN. However, what we can do is to use our faces to do a mass campaign on the need to curb piracy because it's a big scourge. Government have a lot to do for us in this area. We now have NDLEA, EFCC etc. Government should carve out from the police an enforcement agency that is strictly for fighting against piracy. Not just creating them but giving them the enabling environment and the necessary facilities to work with. Mind you, we cannot completely eradicate piracy, we can only curb it to the barest minimum. This is so because we are all engaged in piracy. Your ringtones that you use, somebody sees it and likes and you put on your Bluetooth and transfer it to the person who transfers it to another person and so and so on. That is piracy.
I have a mandate. Mandate to move AGN forward. That cannot happen without the support of all. Together, we can build an enviable movie industry in Nigeria.