Osun State born Nollywood actor turned politician, Hon. Rotimi Makinde, who in the last dispensation represented the Ife Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, has opened up on why he is being careful romancing his former constituency, including some of his colleagues. According to the philanthropist who turns 51 this year’s December, he wouldn’t be seen to be friend with some while others take him for an enemy. In a nutshell, Mr. Makinde is preaching unity which he alludes, is lacking at the moment in the Industry that gave him a leap. Also, speaking with the Editor, FOLORUNSHO HAMSAT, Makinde shares his reason for going into politics, why he invested heavily in broadcasting, his best moments as a Rep, and more. Enjoy…
How would you compare the two worlds of acting and playing politics?
First and foremost, let me re-echo this fact; I happened to be the first artiste in this country if not in Africa to be so privileged to contest and win at the federal level, House of Representatives. God made it possible but being an artiste helped in no small measure. Acting helped me to be vocal, articulated and above all, it killed shyness in me as a politician. I became an instant source of news and easy target for newsmakers. Any good artiste with solid education would make a good politician especially if he or she has the call to serve. Politics is service while acting is to teach, entertain and inform.
Was it your best decision ever to have crossed from acting to politics, and what really encouraged you to take that decision?
Before my crossing to politics, movie industry was not my only source of income or joy. I worked at NNPC for 20 years while still acting. It was more of a hobby to me. Not just that; I was into auto business, hospitality and media. I have always been a man of many parts; I love creativity and hate poverty in all ramifications. So the crossroad before me then was to leave certainty as a comfortable NNPC staff to the world of uncertainty, politics. Well, the rest is now history. I voluntarily retired as an accountant from NNPC and stepped fully into politics.
Please share the best and challenging moments of your time at the House of Representatives.
The best and most challenging moment was when it became clear to me that we must move this country forward. We must mount pressure on the speaker, Rt Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal to quit PDP, we saw the danger in this because some earlier converts were already facing trial for crossing to our side. I was not too conversant with the legal implications but the then speaker is a lawyer. I was just convinced that, doing that would signal the terrible blow for the PDP. So, mounting pressure and the aftermath challenge to protect him was a great challenge. Nigeria may not know, I was the first to climb the NASS gate, snapped my colleagues and forwarded those pictures to the public. I can boldly state here that if we had not done just that, Tambuwal would have been impeached and it would demoralize APC and nonsensical things would have sailed through our electoral process. For instance, they would have stopped the use of card reader, I was so challenged that day that I looked straight into the eyes of the then Mr Senate President.
You returned from the House of Representatives to start a radio station in which you have been very much involved. Does it mean that you are giving politics a break for a while or there are still background moves to return to politics?
Investing in broadcasting is my further attempt to give back to the society and especially my community and my efforts to contribute my quotas to the promotion of art and culture in the country. I am known as an ambassador of culture and radio station is inter-related somehow. Besides, the station has other interest in movie production, music production etc. It is not politically motivated. It is a venture to uplift my community and create employment in my own way. If I target money, I probably would site it in a place like Lagos but I decided to site it in Ile- Ife.
Going into politics gave you a leap from the movie background. What’s your relationship now with your former colleagues in the industry?
It’s very sad that lack of unity in the industry limited what could be my landmark in the industry. The little I did was more to those who get closer on personal relationship. I tried to touch few people positively and bankrolled few movie productions by way of generosity. To the industry as a body, I found it difficult to know where to pitch my tent. Today, they are divided, ANTP, Movie Ambassador, TAMPAM, NANTAP etc. They are so divided and making nonsense of any desire to triumph. I would love to see one Nollywood, where the likes of Jide Kosoko, Fidelis Duker, Dele Odule, Said Balogun and Kanayo and co. would be co-travellers. The reverse is the case; as a politician, I distanced myself. Not even a congratulatory message from the association I belonged to, the ANTP. Incidentally, many of my respected bosses or friends are now in TAMPAM. We relate well, no malice but I have never hidden my opinion that I am not comfortable with this lack of unity. Today, if I move closer to Baba Wande, Jimoh Aliu or even Said Balogun, it may not go down well with some of my colleagues. They should come together.
How would you assess the performance of President Buhari’s government and that of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola?
I seriously think I am not qualified to speak on the government or the person of Governor Rauf Aregbesola. I don’t want to be accused of licking the boot. Aregbesola commissioned me into politics. I am one of his lieutenants. I wish to remain committed to him, loyal and be his defender, at least to the end of his tenure. To start here and state all those noble things he has done or doing may amount to boot licking. I would want to leave this topic for a more neutral mind. On Buhari, he is an agent of intervention, if he had not come in, things would have been worst. I have been so privileged to serve in higher capacity to know how worst it was. I was a member of 7th assembly; Finance committee, Petroleum committee among others. By extension; I knew how bad the past government was driving this country’s economy. We saw it coming and we cried out but many failed to listen to us. Buhari came and intervened here and there, he is in the right direction. Introduction of single treasury account is one of the best things to happen in this country. Let’s be patient and give him more time to fix the country.
Tell us about the success of the Oodua FM so far, and what are the future prospects in terms of public response?.
Oodua FM is still a baby being nurtured with all the venoms in me and serious determination to succeed. It is my desire to pilot it to a glorious lead in Yoruba land at least. I recognized the fact that the name Oodua FM is beyond me as an individual and I feel challenged to give it the best in terms of what good broadcasting stands for.
Please share with us how you spend your leisure with family and where you do love to do that.
I have always remained a very close person to my family. My wife and kids are my greatest assets, no matter how busy I am, I enjoy seeing myself around them. I am lucky to have married my wife, very beautiful and close to my heart. She is my adviser, my prayer warrior and best sex partner. My kids are doing fine, we relate well.
As an active player, do you think the present Nigerian politicians are the angels needed to steer the nation to the desired Promised Land?
We cannot rate any politician in general terms, the electorate should endeavour to vote people with pedigree and conscience and jettison the use of money influence. Our people are the architect of what they are getting from their representatives. To the best of my knowledge, my people must be regretting voting me out of my committed role for Aregbesola, Buhari or my party. Today, my successor who is over 70 years old is just there to collect his retirement benefit. He is not in any way comparable to me with so many motions and bills that I sponsored at the House of Representatives.
What interests you most about life and what puts you off about it?
I am at home when dealing with intelligent person and hanging around intellectual person. Honesty often entices me to people while I do not forgive liars. In fact, I hate liars and ungrateful elements generally.