When Kanayo O. Kanayo came into Nollywood, he made a remarkable difference that today he is not only a front runner in the motion picture industry but one of the oldest actors still standing. Having come, seen and conquered Nollywood, he is ready for more exploits. KOK as he is popularly called has formally declared his intention to run in the 2011 elections in the House of Representatives. He spoke with Ahaoma Kanu about his ambition of being a representative with a Face and voice.
You have just declared your intention to run for a political office in the 2011 elections, have you gotten a political structure you will be working with in this your political ambition?
I will like to let you know that I am on ground in my constituency. Talking about structure, it means money and you will be giving money out to people. I try as much as possible to reach out to people in my constituency and let them know what I want to go and do for them there at the Federal House of Representatives. I have been making door to door campaigning because I believe that the voters matter. I don't want to believe in the belief that there are people you go to and victory is assured; everybody is a power base. My message to the voters is do not mortgage the future of our children and make it clear that politics is not a do or die affair for me; I have a job in Lagos. I let them know that their children that I want to empower will lose it if they compromise and allow people without a vision to misrepresent them. I am on ground and working with my constituency. We need men and women of purpose and who are capable.
Just some few days back, a aspirant into the House of Reps was assassinated in your state, talking about Nze Sunny Ogbu, does that not scare you?
No, I am not scared. My life is in the hands of God. I met a pastor at the airport in 2007 and since then he prays for me; he stands in prayers for me and I also serve a living God. I believe my life is in the hands of the Almighty God and nobody can take it from me. Let me make a reference to the late elder statesman, Tai Solarin, all the while he was leading protests and was at the battle front, all the bullets meant for him did not touch him until the Lord called him home. I believe this is a divine project that I am into and my life is in the hands of God.
Some of the other contestants for the office you are eyeing have been there and have the incumbency factor to their advantage, what are you doing to do about it?
I don't know what anybody can do; all I know is what I can do. I am doing what I am supposed to do in order to make my people happy during my representation I want to do. I know that we at Ahiazzu, Mbaise has had not the best of representation in the past in the House of Representatives; at least you are aware that there was a brawl in the house some time ago that led to some embarrassment of the House and that is one of the things that my constituency needs to be changed. That is where somebody as credible as I am to clear the image. That is why my people are really happy and see me as the best person they can vow for. I am happy that the party which I belong to is now on a course to a new path; the party chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo is making sure that transparency is the name of the game and that many people that had left the party comes back. There are no sacred cows again and the issue of consensus candidate has gone extinct. We need men and women of integrity and I believe I have that integrity for this job. It is not a do-or-die affair for me. I was asked by a friend that the number of people vying for the same position is over 10 so how do I hope to manage, I told my friend the more the merrier and that's what makes it a competition. Every one of them is my brother and sister, I respect all of them. We have moved beyond consensus candidacy; let our best come forward. I will like a situation where we put us on a debate on television and radio so that we will present our different manifestos and allow our people decide. Everybody is doing their ground work and I am doing mine. I am friends with all the other contestants. I believe that I am a brand and not a hard sell. My name and personality has done 70 per cent of the work for me, I just need to do the remaining 30 and get there with the vote of a people that wants change.
What do you have to say about the state of roads in the South East?
Every given system of government can only be only be good as its operators. Leadership is not everything; it is the only thing that is needed. With the right leadership principles you can turn around everything. For the state of infrastructures in the South East, it is appalling that we have the state of roads leading to the Igbo nation in a state of neglect. Before now, the cry of marginalization has always been coming from the South East; we have always been crying and would I would want to ask our brothers in this Nigerian project a question, is the war not over yet? If the war is truly over then the things the people of the South East is going through should not be. If you go through the Benin-Ore road, you will understand what I am talking about. We are all Nigerians and we have come together in a Federalism we hold true; we should be true to its precepts. I just think that the representatives that have been there for us have not been speaking up very well. Maybe people that are not really credible are there and when they get there, they are not answerable to their constituency again. Take a look at what happened in Chilean 33 miners; it was a situation of giving hope to an otherwise hopeless situation. That is the kind of representation I am going for; to speak the minds of the people and address their needs. One problem that I have found out exists among some of the lawmakers representing us is that many of them are not in good terms with one another; a lot of them don't see eye to eye and that is a problem because the collective aim of the people is defeated. I wish to become the person that will put a stop to this and make sure we put the interest of the people first. Don't think that the South East don't work, we
You are known as Kanayo O Kanayo in movies and now you are going for politics, you are Anayo Onyekwere, what happened to the name?
The names Anayo and Kanayo are the same the only difference is the part of the South East you are from. I was born in Imo State and grew up in Enugu State. Now in Imo State, we use Anayo but in Enugu, they call Kanayo. So the name KOK had to come in during my professional career when I noticed that people were not really pronouncing my surname properly; it was been assaulted and insulted that I had to use Kanayo O Kanayo and it stuck. There are no name changing here, I am still the same.
When did this political vision start?
The vision started five years ago and has been on. Obama had a vision that he was going to lead the American people if you read his book. This vision has been on for five years that I was going to contest for a seat in the National Assembly; it did not have to take me 10 years to be realized. And if God has destined you for something, you start working towards it. I have been working towards it for the past five years and the time is now.
By taking this bold step, are you kissing Nollywood goodbye?
No. I am on a sabbatical.
The Declaration speech to contest elections into the House of Representation to represent Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Mbaise Federal Constituency of Imo State:
Gentlemen of the Press, Distinguished Nigerians, I welcome you all here to this auspicious event. I have invited you here today for the simple reason that I want to formally acquaint you all with my desire to run for elective office in 2011 to represent my people of the Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Mbaise Federal Constituency of Imo State in the House of Representatives.
I have lived a considerable part of my life here in Lagos and have maintained cordial relations with the press in Lagos as well as with most of you here today, and I consider it only fitting that I should intimate you of this intention of mine at this very early stage. distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is my sincere hope that from now onwards, this ambition will not be mine alone, but will be understood, shared and promoted by all of you here present. if that becomes the case as I am sure it would, then victory is already almost assured.
Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Mbaise Federal Constituency regrettably have suffered from the twin scourge of under-representation and misrepresentation for some years now. And this is very unfortunate, considering the pedigree of our people. Those of us here, who have ever heard of the famous AHIARA DECLARATION, need not to ask again who the people of Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Mbaise are. Ahiara is one of the communities in this constituency, and it is these people, who have played a very critical and noble role in the history of the Igbo, nay Nigerian nation, it is these people that have now been given the face of gangsters and enforcers. Unfortunately, this is what some of our representatives have become in the years that they have claimed to represent us.
There is therefore, the urgent need for CHANGE. And the time for change is NOW. I am therefore offering myself as a candidate for the House of Representatives in the coming elections on the banner of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the largest political party in Africa. My candidacy is borne out of an inner realization that men of conscience do not have to keep quiet when everything seems to be going wrong. What is needed at this point in time in Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Mbaise is not brown, but a FACE AND VOICE that can bring back confidence and hope to our people. Ladies and Gentlemen, I dare say, without being immodest, that I am that FACE OF HOPE. I have struggled through life to be well educated and to make a career of my little God-given talent. If today, people say that I have done well as an actor, then my story could well serve as MODEL for the many youths of Mbaise and elsewhere who have talents to explorer and there is virtually nobody who does not have talent.
If elected therefore, I will use that little height which my talents have propelled me to enter into all the places that matter, both inside and outside the House of Representatives to get what our people want. It is unimaginable that KOK will be an outsider in a parliament that I am a member.
My first emphasis as Member of the Nigerian House of Representatives will be the Youths. Until now, our youths have unfortunately thought the only way forward is through the short-cut: 419, thuggery, etc. My very life is already a testimony that success is only through hard work. I will therefore work for the Reorientation of our Youths, towards Education, hard work and the changing of the system, At the same time, I will strive to create opportunities for jobs for our youths as well as ensure that there is empowerment for all, especially those who are artisans, women and the elderly. I will also lay emphasis on the Provision of Infrastructure for our people.
All over Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Mbaise Federal Constituency, infrastructure is either non-existent or dilapidated. Schools and school buildings have almost collapsed, while our roads are nearly impassable. Virtually every other amenity of life is the same story in our place. I will, therefore, work assiduously to regenerate our area, with new or improved amenities for the people. in this regard, I want to assure our people that Constituency projects will no more be what we hear about only on the Radio and TVs but that I will always bring the full share of our constituency projects to them.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I urge you to support my ambition to go to House of Representatives. My victory will be a victory for the people, because I am going to be an insider in the House of Representatives in the true sense of the word, and will exploit such pedigree to the full advantage of our people.
Thank You All and God Bless.
Representation with a Face and Voice