Actor-Turned Politician, OLUMIDE OWORU
One star actor everyone is talking about right now is Olumide Oworu. He is presently one of the busiest thespians in the land as we speak. For several months running, Olumide has been shuttling from one movie location to the other, featuring in block buster movies. Sometimes, he never steps foot in his home for many weeks. That’s how busy the star boy of Netflix’s hit movie, Far Away From, has been. And those who know this hugely adored actor cum politician very closely will gladly tell you he has been getting juicy movie roles, not just because he’s a fantastic actor, but because Olumide Oworu has been adjudged by many as a damn good professional. He takes his craft very seriously. He does not take his modest achievements in the industry for granted. Every time Olumide goes on set, he works hard to deliver his roles like he’s never tasted success before. That’s probably what stands this good looking young man out from his contemporaries. It is also one of the reasons why many producers often demand his services and seek to have him involved in their movie projects. His hunger for perfection, for success, and commitment to stay relevant in conversations within Nollywood have never waned, despite having been involved in acting all of his life. Many do not know Olumide started out as a kid actor. He was introduced to acting by his mum when he was barely two years of age or thereabout.
Today, Olumide Oworu has grown to become a name to reckon with in the industry. His impeccable conduct on and off set has endeared him to many, especially young people who see him as a role model who represents all of their aspirations and offers them that self belief that they can be whatever they choose to be in life. For a young man his age who’s enjoying some measure of success, Olumide is a rarity. He has remained his humble self, never letting all of the accolades coming his way get into his head. He has stayed grounded. And like his mum proudly said, “Olumide has remained what the Yorubas call Omoluabi, despite the fame he has been enjoying all these years.” And we can’t but agree more with her.
Two weeks ago, City People’s Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL (08037209290) had a great time engaging the pleasant and extremely intelligent Olumide Oworu. In the first part of the interview, Olumide talks about his sudden venture into politics which shocked many and shares some of his near death experience and political ideologies with us. Enjoy excerpts of the interview.
Let’s talk about your venture into politics. How did you find yourself in that arena in the first place?
A lot of my outlook to life was set by my parents, most especially. I have always, to a certain degree, involved myself in conversations that involve the political space in Nigeria and in the world in general. So, I have grown to know the importance of being in conversations with people that care about the average person. But, again, I had assumed that politics is what you get to do when you’re older, maybe when you’re more established and you’re a family man and then you see what you can contribute. Right now, my energy is focused on trying to maximise opportunities that I find myself in and take advantage of it as much as I can. Now, I understand the position I am in by virtue of my work and I understand the power that I have as a voice.
As I get older, I have become more aware of what I can do with that power and by that I mean using my craft as an actor and all of the social media followers and the earlier you do this better because nobody knows how long he or she’s going to be here. I can’t guarantee you that I will be here in the next couple of years. I would love to but I can’t guarantee that. Sometimes, life does what life does.
So, it’s become part of my responsibility to get as many young people as possible to become more politically aware and demystify who needs to be a politician or who a politician is. What I think we need right now is a whole revamp of what it means to be a politician and what a politician looks like (laughs). And what we expect from a politician and that’s the biggest thing for me. And I think I was fortunate tio be around the party that also had a balance of youth inclusion in their ranks. So, it really is just a case of right place, right time and everything just worked out. You know, sometimes, when God is using you to do things, he gives you clues in advance but you have no idea. Before now, I’d been going to various institutions, from the universities to the secondary schools, just sharing my stories and trying to encourage other young people to actualise their dreams, just for me to be in a situation where I could be a part of the change that we really want to see. That was something I knew I had to just do. And it was a lot because the Nigeria political space is very interesting. It’s a very special place. But I’m just very thankful because there’s no record of anybody at 28 years that contested for any political office in the history of Nigeria, from 1960 to now. So, for me, that just speaks volume of what I’ve been able to achieve so far.
Right now, when many young people sit down together to have conversations, they will definitely talk about the Economy and Politics. And that, for me, is key because we no longer have the safety nets of mummy and daddy anymore. And I feel you can’t change the system if you don’t understand how the system works or what’s wrong with the system. So, are we going to keep saying in future when it’s our turn we will change things…And for how long are we going to wait till they say it’s our turn? Are we going to wait forever? We will be clueless if we wait that long. And we will probably make even more mistakes than what’s already on ground. The truth is that many of the politicians we know today started really young, so we need to have that mindset of people growing u to say they want to be politicians but for the right reasons though. So, that was the biggest thing for me and I’m very thankful that that happened. It was a very intense period of my life, I can’t lie. I mean, I’m still battling with the trauma from that period. I went through a lot with my family, I went through a lot with my friends, but we thank God. But, I will do it again. Whatever has happened can’t discourage me, I will definitely do it again. I mean, I am now in spaces where before it would be hard to imagine that I would be in. I am having conversations with individuals that would ordinarily have been unreachable for me. It’s an amazing place to be in. I think everything I’ve gone through from my childhood has prepared to be where I want to be and to just be able to share my story and have that be an example for people to know that you can actually do whatever it is that you set your mind to, I think that is the most rewarding thing in life for me.
Were you not scared at some point when things got really, really messy?
Ah, of course, I was. Like I said, I’m still dealing with the trauma. There were some very ugly experiences in and around that period. I mean, I saw things that…I mean, you hear these stories and you read about them but it’s very different when it’s happening in front of you. And in the end, I felt really responsible for people who ended up with injuries, some were taken to the hospital, some lost items, just because they came out to support me, I felt really responsible for these people. There were people with stab wounds, people with bottles broken on their heads, it was a lot. But again, I am just very thankful to be in the conversation. I believe that it wasn’t a waste. In some shape or form, it has gone on to inspire some other young people as well and to really pay more attention to the affairs of the country and how it affects us. I couldn’t be more honoured to be a part of that chain moving forward.
Before the elections came, what sort of relationship did you have with Desmond Elliot? What sort of relationship did you share with him before you both went toe-to-toe in the political battlefield?
You know, the funny thing is, the first time we met was on the set of Tajudeen Adepetu’s Everyday People. I was the kid he used to tell, come on, go to bed, go and sleep, all your mates are in bed you’re still here. Again, like I said, when God is doing things, you have no idea when he’s giving you all these clues. At that time, I was six, I had no idea me and this man were going find ourselves in that situation. There was no way I would’ve known we were going to be interacting on a totally different level outside of entertainment. But seriously, I can tell there’s mutual respect at least from an industry stand point, but you know, it is what it is.
But have you guys met or spoken to each other after the elections yet?
No, no, we have not met.
2027 is just around the corner, before you know it, the General Elections would be upon us once again. What should we be looking forward to from Olumide Oworu?
I have definitely learnt from the process, I’m a lot more informed and better equipped right now, so whether or not I run for office in any capacity, I am active in politics right now and that’s definitely not gonna change.
It will be interesting to see how that goes because the focus for me, really, is just focus on the young people. I am very biased towards young people because that is the demography that I represent. The biggest thing for me is getting as many young people as possible to get involved in the process because the happenings in the political space in Nigeria tends to just drain you and leaves you thinking, since they would do whatever they want to do, what is the point? And that kind of apathy where people are not interested in coming out to vote anymore because they feel their votes will not count is what we must not allow to happen. So, my focus right now is building a community of young people that are hungry for change. So, if it gets to a point where it will be conducive for me to run again, by all means I will.
How satisfied are you with the outcome of the election tribunal?
I believe we had a strong case. Its one thing to say certain things are getting struck out and it’s another to throw everything out in it’s totality based on technicalities that are not very well explained or understood. So, at the end of the day, we will continue to try as much as we can to take advantage of as many opportunities as we do have in terms of getting the Judgement that we think is fair. So, Supreme Court, here we go, so we’ll see where that takes us. And really, again, I think it’s crazy that we are in 2023 and certain things are still issues. With the amount that went into the election, I see no reason why there should be any glitches or whatever. There’s no reason why the process cannot be seamless. One would also think that before you put a system in place you would have had test runs in some form, so how, in 2023, with all the technological advancement in the world, we are still having issues with a seamless electoral process. It just goes to show how far away from the mark we are as a country. The world is worrying about different things right now, we are still complaining about light and road. The most basic things in other parts of the world are a privilege here. And I don’t think that’s right, I don’t think that’s fair because for me, the success of any state really lies in the standard of living of the average person. So, what’s the point in having a collection of some of the most decorated people in the world and the average person is still going through a lot. And that’s one of the reasons why I got involved in politics in the first place.