Seasoned Nollywood actor turned politician, Desmond Elliot has advocated that the youths of Nigeria brace up to take power not force of arms but with confidence and ideas that win the world. In this interview, the handsome dude who currently represents Surulere constituency at the Lagos State House of Assembly speaks to the Editor, FOLORUNSHO HAMSAT on his style of politics, his first constituency, Nollywood and more.
What are the qualities that you appreciate in politicians now that you are part of them?
My views didn’t change much because I had always been around politicians before I came in. So, coming in didn’t shock me in terms of the things I was coming to meet. The only reality is that it is more real than many people think. It opens you up to the reality of people’s economic state, psychological state and philosophical state. Politics itself helps you become magnanimous in your ideas because if you are a Christian, you are not just a politician for Christians alone and if you are a Muslim you are not a politician for Muslims alone. It cuts across so many things. So, it is a good situation to be at.
You were coming into politics from Nollywood. What are you missing about acting?
I would not say I’m missing much. In fact, I’m not missing because I’m not too far from Nollywood. I enjoy the partnership. If not for acting, I won’t be where I am today. So, I can’t just give it up and turn my back and say, go. I’m still in, though I’m not into it like I used to be but my colleagues are still my colleagues I hold dearly. I attend premieres, I go along with them all the time.
Do you still honour movie scripts?
Well, I don’t know what you mean by honouring scripts but if it has to do with charity works or government agencies stuff.
So, you don’t accept the regular scripts anymore?
Anyway, the contents have to be right. It depends on the storyline. You know, as a politician now and a representative of the people, if I have to take a script, it has to be in line with one’s idea.
The focus now is on the youth regarding the next political dispensation. Do you think the youth can take power anytime soon?
As a matter of fact, I don’t know about taking over power. But I think the youths need to have more say. It has to be more than participatory and when I say youths, I’m not talking of people like us of ages 44, 45 upward. No. I’m talking of youths in their 20s, 30s, that will come out and hold this nation. A sector of youths cannot do it, it has to be holistic. It has to be a collective task for the youth of the north, south and west, having the same common ground, same common belief. I’m not trying to criticize the government of the day but in truth, how many youths do we have in government? Wisdom is for the elderly, vibrancy is with the youths. I’m not saying the youths should come and take over by force, no. But we are not too young to rule. Now, when you tell the youths this, they will say, ah there is no money, would you allow us? This case is just like when you look up you see many stars. When one is going to come out, will it ask others for space? No. it will just come in and take a space. So, the youths must take up their own. And it’s not just anybody. The aim must be right. Another thing is this; youths must be trained so that by the time they get close to 40s, they are already experienced, they already know what governance is about and they become selfless.
What’s your style of politics?
I’m an extreme team player. I take criticism with a pinch of salt. I’m a loyalist to the core. I’m what they call a believer in politics. And I believe so much in God. Politics opens your eyes so much that you realize that if not for God, dreams would not have happened. So, in politics I understand that it’s a game, not a do-or-die affair. Many things are there to be learnt and these are things I have learned.
Do you have your eye in governorship someday?
I’m focusing on what I have at hand right now. Why am I looking at that? That is not my priority now. Priority is delivering on the service of democracy.
What legacy are you planning to leave behind as a politician?
Desmond loves his people. That is a legacy. I want to be like Ronald Reagan of America that you still talk about till date. I want to be like Abraham Lincoln. I want to be like people you talk about every time for their good legacies; people who were selfless. I believe that is the problem we’ve had in this country. Not probably with the president but with the generality of the people, understanding that we are here, we are stuck together and we must be selfless to do this together. We need selflessness. And we will be a better nation.
What is your assessment of the Akinwunmi Ambode administration in Lagos State?
Fantastic. They call him silent performer. And it’s true. Even though for us, we are privileged to know what he is going to do ahead of time. You see when he does his things, he doesn’t make noise. He’s a man with lots of visions and limited resources. He’s been able to manage well the little resources he has at his disposal. He has a different style, very innovative and fresh. I just wish him the best. I wish he accomplishes at least 80 percent of all he had come to accomplish.