John Okafor, popularly known as Mr. Ibu, is a Nollywood star and comedian, considered to be one of Nigeria’s most talented comic characters. In this interview with TONY OKUYEME, he bares his mind on sundry issues in the industry.
It was reported recently that armed robbers invaded your house in Lagos, and made away with cash and valuables worth millions of naira.
Yes. I was not around when it happened. They met my wife who they ordered to show them where cash and other valuables were kept. According to my wife, the operation started at about 3a.m. and lasted till about 4:25am. on Sunday morning. They made away with N1 million cash, which I kept for the renovation of my house. Also, all my gold watches – 10 gold watches – and my phones were removed in my room; then went to my wife’s room and took away all her gold jewelries and other valuables worth millions of naira. Two members of the robbery gang have been arrested by the Police.
You have been relatively off the scene for some time now, what have you been doing?
Not really. The new dimension in the area of acting is that marketers now prefer to release their films online now, so most of these movies are not in the market. But we are working; it is just that it is not regular as before. And most of the marketers are not interested in going to the market again, what they do now is to produce short films and release them online, and when people download them they get their money from there.
How many movies were you able to do in the last 12 months?
I can’t really say for now. Normally, some of the producers give us working title and at the end of the day they come out with a different title. It is only the ones I am working on that I can tell you the authentic title that I am using. One of them is ‘Ibu Runs Mad in America’; the other one is Ozuzueke, which is the one we are about to work on. We have finished work on ‘Ibu Runs Mad in America’, but I don’t want to release it now.
I don’t want to release it now. I want to take it to the cinemas first.
When should we expect the premiere?
It will premiere, maybe, anytime from June this year. The movie features two major actors from Mexico. Many of my colleagues here also featured in the movie.
So, generally, how has it been? What is your view about Nollywood?
We have been organising peace meetings here and there because we have been having conflicts, faction upon faction in Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), court cases, police cases and all that. Well, we have been able to call the stakeholders meeting for us to make peace and have reason to restore peace, and we have been able to elect a new president of AGN, in the person of Emeka Rollas. He has been making that there is peace. So, for you, how has it been in the last one year? Any regrets? Well, the endorsement that I have with Multichoice GOTV is still on. There are very wonderful people. And the Globacom endorsement, I am still waiting for them because we have just finished the first endorsement. So I am waiting for them to call for renewal. And I think some other ones are coming. So, we are looking forward to becoming a billionaire.
You are popularly known as Ibu, how do you separate the character Ibu from the man, John Okafor?
What is actually the thin line between these two personas? John Okafor is a man that is a disciplinarian, very natural in everything I want to do. I like peace; I make peace, I make good friends. I like travelling, and I have travelled a lot. And, Mr. Ibu is my grandfather’s name. I have known that from childhood, and he was a bigger comedian than me, even though he is late now, I still remember one or two things he used to do. In fact, I am going to put up another kind of act from him which I am going to show this time around. I want to change the face of acting, talking about comedy.
How do you manage female admirers, fans, given your popularity?
Women are the major ingredients for popularity, because if you play along with women, if you play with them, chat with them, they chat you on social media, extend your popularity, the awareness even to their families. So, you need them to be popular, to move on.