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Hilda Dokubo is one of the most celebrated actresses in Nigeria. She is an academically trained actress and a minority rights activist.
*ĎI am Nollywood goddess who came and left when needed mostí
Hilda Dokubo is one of the most celebrated actresses in Nigeria. She is an academically trained actress and a minority rights activist. She increased her mileage when she accepted the offer to serve her people as one of the leaders of the youths of the South-South Assembly and she was once a special adviser to the governor of Rivers State.
She describes herself as the fair skinned goddess of Nollywood that came into the mind of people and left quietly when she was needed most. But she believes that the opportunity given to her to serve the people in a different capacity was made possible through the experience she gathered in Nollywood. In this chat with Sunday Vanguard , she discusses her achievements while in government, her fight to eradicate hunger and challenges whoever cares to listen that Hollywood actresses are not up to her standard in acting.
She is a role model in Buguma and the rest of the South- South region of Nigeria. She says she would be a good senator and a better governor of Rivers State if she has access to power.
WHEN did you become the UN Hunger Free Ambassador?
Last year, at the UN General Assembly. Before then, we had run a research on the rate of poverty and hunger and looked at where Nigeria is at on the MDGs. It was so obvious that we havenít met up to 30% success in the MDGs. And there was this need for a voice to stand up and speak up against hunger and poverty. My voice was found worthy and I had to do a presentation at the UN General Assembly on hunger and poverty in the Niger- Delta and in Africa.
Do you really think that hunger and poverty can be eradicated?
I think itís absolutely criminal that people die just because of hunger. The answer isnít as easy as sending big bags of rice to starving lands; actually those big bags of rice can cripple regional farmers by driving prices so low that they are unable to make ends meet thus sparking more rounds of poverty. But many answers do come from the policies of our local and global leaders. Policies that enable large corporations to siphon enormous amounts of water from local farmers and villages, leaving the poor high and dry.
Policies that prevent small family farms from being able to compete with agriculture, policies that have caused the world to warm so quickly that an estimated 50% of rain that should feed African farms are predicted to fall in 13 years. We arenít powerless here. There is a way to make a difference, and weíre fighting to do so. The truth is that there is enough food in the world to go round in the way weíre looking forward to next week and a half and think its about ten months ago.
What is your view on the Niger-Delta crisis?
The Niger-Delta crisis and the political reforms presently going on in the nation are pathetic. What we want is to defend the primary interests of the people. The region cannot access food; that is what is wrong. They are not giving ownership of the land to farmers. They are not encouraging people to farm and even when they farm, there is no way for them to preserve the produce. There are no roads, therefore the land users cannot go out and everything is working against you. Since they cannot preserve and cannot take it out to sell because of the bad condition of the roads, the people of this region are asking for their fundamental rights.
Justice is a prerequisite for peace because without justice, there will be no peace. We demand justice. The truth is that if we donít find justice in Nigeria, we might be forced to leave the place and see how the rest of Nigeria would fare without us. They would starve and beg us for survival because the Almighty God has made us the breadwinner and lifeline of Nigeria. We are the backbone of Nigeria and if we leave today, Nigeria will collapse before tomorrow.
What do you have to say about youths restiveness in the Niger Delta?
I do not know if you have eaten today, but I know that seven out of every ten children in my area, that is the Niger Delta, do not eat well. Most of their food are wasted. Poverty is a poor governance issue. The developing countries provide the basic needs for their peoples. This is one country that does not believe in the youth.
They abandon the young people and just throw them out. What do you expect from the young people when their schools are not good? When they graduate, you tell them boldly that their certificates are not good enough for them to get jobs, that they are not employable since the schools are not good. This is frustrating but it is possible to get rid of that if people begin to do the things that they are supposed to do. The menace that the youths constitute and other social vices will be things of the past. We should give them good education and ensure that when they graduate they are able to get jobs.
Your impact in Nollywood?
I could be described as the fair skinned goddess of Nollywood that came into the mind of people and left quietly when she was needed most. I believe that the opportunity given to me to serve my people in a different capacity was made possible through the experience I gathered in Nollywood. I can challenge whoever cares to listen that Hollywood actresses are not up to my standard in acting.
Looking at Nollywood when you started and now, do you think that Nollywood has attained that standard we ought to?
That industry started out of nothing and when you do anything out of nothing and it grows at the pace that we have grown, we should applaud ourselves. In terms of growth, I will like to ask, are we going forward or backward? Our story lines have not improved so much, what we had before now were storylines that people could identify with especially in the Nigerian society.
The storylines that we have today are storylines that are borrowed from some where. In terms of content of our storylines, I think that we still have to go back to our history book, to people who are willing to tell us real things; we need to also do a bit of research because we have left that part out for some reasons that I am not sure of. In terms of technicality, I think we are trying but we still have to improve.
What have you been doing lately?
I do something slightly different from entertainment. I train younger people, run campaigns on eradication of poverty and hunger. I also run an art school.
What made you run an NGO?
The drive towards helping other people I would say. I was appointed as special adviser to the governor of Rivers State on Youths in 2007 and it opened doors for me to have direct interaction with a lot of young people. As an actress, it is almost near difficult for you to have that kind of access because there are people out there waiting to be reached and that job provided the opportunity for me to talk with young people who I found wanted to do so many things but they didnít know how to do them; they wanted to be famous but didnít know how.
Some did not have the opportunity of exploring their potentials. Our educational system was nose diving; people went to school but were not educated. I felt my country has given me so much and it was time for me to give back, so I decided to run a research to find out why young people were getting involved in crime and dropping out of school, the result of that research was what led me into setting up an NGO and gave me four different approaches to help young people.
What were the challenges of coming from Nollywood and holding a political office?
Well, I didnít get involved in politics; I just held a political office. My basic challenge was the fact that people did not know whether they were going to see a government official or me. A lot of people came in staring at me and not discussing the main reason they came in the first place.
I also had the challenge of filtering everything you want to say because, in government, you had to sound not exactly like you but like somebody else and I had huge difficulties dealing with that. Another challenge I faced was that, as an actress, you take your decisions and go away but it was a different ball game being in government; you had to wait for every other person to see reason along with you or not at all; decisions were not taken based on the importance of issues but on how every other person other than yourself perceived the issues.
As an actress, you used Nollywood as a platform to portray the ills of the society and suddenly you saw yourself in government. Did you find any worries accepting that job and how did you carry people along?
No, I had no problem at all. First and foremost, as an actress, and God knows I will die as one, I spent many years being an actress, so why should I trade it for something that I did for a few months? I had no problem remaining a mirror to the society, that is who I am and who I will be to the society. I doubt if I am prepared to lose that personality. Leadership is not about being in a position, it is about what you are able to do for the people, it is about impacting on lives, it is not a tool for enslaving people; it is a tool for doing things for people.
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