Jim Iyke, Nollywood actor, says he backed down on his political ambition when he was asked to compromise on his values.
The 44-year-old film star spoke during a chat with BBC Igbo on why he went off the grid in the movie scene.
“I tried doing politics but what I was required to compromise was almost like selling your soul. I’m principled. I decided that there are different positions you can play on a field but the end result is to score goals,” he said.
“I decided to play my part, remaining a social critic, tell what needs to be told. It’s my advocacy. The day my people summon me to serve, then I come out. If there’s a jungle on earth, it’s Anambra politics. It’s a different game.
“Everyone wants to lead rather than be led. Everyone has money. At the end of the day, it’s the same circle. I’m not small-minded. I know that if I foray into politics, it’s either it consumes me or I get what I want.
“But I don’t want to be desperate or have a Godfather play me around like a puppet. I don’t want to stain myself.”
On his seeming hiatus from acting, Iyke said he diversified into businesses like estate development and logistics.
“I’m still in the game but not stationary. I’ve been here and there in the hustle. I consider myself a global citizen. My family now lives in the US, so I make the rounds between America and Nigeria. I have a travel agency,” he added.
“I diversified but acting is always been my first love, so I still take part in projects. You’ll always be known for what you’re known for, come what may. There’s this film we came together to make, which I funded, ‘Bad Comments‘.
“I worked with other producers and played the lead actor. We shot for two and half months. It’s a universal film by the standard. We produced it one year ago, put it on Times Square, New York. We were to release it before covid.
“We decided to wait. August 27, we’ll debut worldwide. It’s titled ‘Bad Comments’, based on social media. We timed it well. Everything we touched on is playing out as we speak, making it look as though we produced it last month.”
Jim Iyke: Secessionist calls in southeast due to systematic oppression of Igbos
Iyke, who expressed concern about the insecurity in the southeast, blamed the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Nnamdi Kanu, the group’s leader, on what he described as the “systemic oppression” of Igbos.
“Nigeria isn’t working for us. It’s supposed to be a ‘marriage’. If we’re married and I’m being oppressed or the union makes it such that I’m not developing or moving forward, I’m bound to want out. Nothing is permanent,” he said.
“We survive anywhere we go, thrive, and bring prosperity if you make it conducive for. No one has benefited from our existence as Igbo people the way Nigeria has. We have developed this country by our blood, sweat, and skills.
“Igbo people deserve a place in Nigeria like others. I’m rounded. I studied in the north, hustled in the west, and I’m from the east. I traveled the world and saw how things are done, lived across three countries. I’m half American.
“What we see now is a consequence of systematic oppression on a people. You rejected us. We said, ‘we don’t want violence. Give us our share and let’s leave.’ If you know the history of Biafra, you won’t seek violence.”
Pointing out that violence is never the way forward, Iyke added: “Igbos are the problem of Igbos. If we rise as one force, push to amend laws that are not in our interest, and give certain conditions, you will see the support we get.
“If they refuse, then we continue the conversation. It can’t happen overnight. Maybe our problem is that we want an overnight solution. Maybe we think that, if we start a revolution, it would be our children to reap from it.”
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