He has since changed his stage name from F9 to A1. He is popular as a comedian in Cross River State, but his major concern is that his people are not patronising him. He spoke with ROSE IDO.
You were formerly known as F9 and now you are A1. What’s about your choices of names?
There were so many big and cool names in the industry as at when I started. So, I decided to bear a name that will attract attention easily to me; so I choose F9 that was also a name in one of my television series titled “unhidden crime,” produced by the then elegant theatre in 2007.
At this level, I don’t need to be told that I am good at what I do. So, after some years a lady watched my performance on CRBC TV and called me the next day to ask that I change my name from F9 to A1 and that was how the name A1 came into existence.
You recently have been advocating for recognition especially by elites. Will you say local entertainers are not celebrated in the state?
Let’s look at it this way, I am proudly a royal son of Igbo Imabana in Abi Local Government Area, Cross River State. Over the years, I have concentrated in developing my craft to gain nationwide recognition and acceptance. Through the help of God, I have been able to make a mark and build a name for myself in the entertainment industry especially in the south-south region of the country; yet one of the most frustrating aspect of it is that we are being sidelined in the state especially in my local government area.
Take a look at my brothers and colleagues who are still struggling to find a place in this very competitive entertainment market where the church, politics and entertainment has always worked together, but we are neglected probably because to them, we are not doing enough to make them see us or value our importance.
The entertainment industry and the media today is the focus of everyone because it is selling faster and better than oil that even in the musical aspect of the industry, you will see foreign superstars struggling to do collaboration with our stars here. This is because the entertainment market is open in Africa and Nigeria happens to be the leading market. So boys should be encouraged to take the state to the next level through their talents.
How much can you say the entertainment industry, if encouraged, will help boost the economy of the state?
Miss Nigeria, Face of Africa, Mr Tourism Nigeria, winner of Project Fame, Big Brother, top comedians, musicians, actors and what have you, are all from different states, local government and communities in the country. Supporting an artiste to that level already puts the state and his local government on the map and attract events that will make the place move from being a thoroughfare, to a destination and attracts investors and businesses to such locality.
So how will you say entertainers in the state are being neglected?
Let’s come down to Abi Local Government Area, my place of origin. With my level of fame in the entertainment industry, I have never been invited for an event in the local government headquarters, even when the immediate past governor’s wife knows me in person and even knows some of my jokes that she will sometimes demand that I rack, specially for her.
Sometimes, even when we are called, if they pay uptown artiste N500,000, they will want us to collect N20,000-N50,000. With this kind of amount and treatment, are we being encouraged to grow or give up on the craft?
My worst moments so far are those when I looked around and could not get patronage or support from my own people, but the realization that no one owes me a dime sparks up the fire that keeps me going.