Tell us about yourself and your programme, ‘51 artistes for Godswill Akpabio @ 51’?
My name is Asteroid Bassey, a TV presenter. I present Music Alive on AKBC TV. I am also publisher of E-101 magazine, an event person, a compere, a young guy striving to succeed. I have a Bachelor Degree in Estate Management and proceeded to serve the country in Nasarawa State. I have a PGD (in view) in Journalism. Concerning ‘51 artistes for Godswill Akpabio’, our Governor will be 51 on December 9th 2013. In the words of a famous American President, I think it was John F. Kennedy, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”. I do not always want ask what the governor will do to us but what we can always do for our governor because to whom much is given, much is expected. Yes, the governor was voted to serve us, the governor was placed there to make sure the basic needs of average Akwa Ibom person are catered for, but there are still some other governors that have almost the same amount of resources but are not doing as well as Governor Akpabio is doing. So, yesterday on his 51st birthday, we gathered 51 artistes to entertain the people of Akwa Ibom State and to celebrate the birthday of Governor Akpabio.
How did you get funding for this event?
Funding for the event was personal. Unfortunately, we are in a state where the entertainment industry does not get needed support and people have not realized that the youngsters who sing, the comedians, the ones who dance; our younger brothers, sisters should be supported. There is still this prejudice about entertainment, maybe lack of awareness about the needed support for entertainment industry. For now, we ran this project on our own. It was personal cash, personal capital.
We know that someday it’ll get better. Thus, we’re not deterred; we have to lay foundation and make sure whatever we see in other places like Lagos, New York and other entertainment capitals, should be replicated in Akwa Ibom State and that is my driving force. Funding was absolutely personal.
What inspired the theme, ‘51 Artistes for Godswill Akpabio @ 51’?
Yea, I have always loved to do something for Akpabio. In 2011, I led a team of entertainment journalists and we invested Governor Akpabio as the Entertainment Man of the Year, after a 24-page detailed compendium of what he has done for entertainment.
At the investiture at Government House, Uyo, I told the governor that he has done very well for entertainment industry, as at then. He needed to be supported and encouraged. In 2012 when he was 50, we published a small bio data/personality profile called the ‘Golden Akpabio’, where we had 50 quotable quotes about the governor from different personalities across the world. We had pictures, awards and all of that. So in 2013, we have to do something different and since he is 51 and I am a music and event entertainment person, I thought I should bring 51 artistes to make it very significant, to make it beyond the ordinary, to make everyone stand out and be counted. It’s just sheer love for the governor for the fact that he’s someone who loves Akwa Ibom State and needs to be encouraged, needs to be shown appreciation for what he has done and to be encouraged to do more even in the entertainment industry.
From what you’re saying, at least 51 artistes performed in ‘51 Artistes for Godswil Akpabio @ 51 show?
Yea. We had problems cutting down performances to 51. We had well over 200 artistes that came out to Sheer Grace Arena yesterday. Performances were only limited to 51, apologies to the artistes who call daily wanting to be part of this event. We just wanted to select the best from the lot that we have. You know people were calling all over the country; we had an artiste who came all the way from the Philippines to be part of this event. We just had to select the best because our Governor deserves the best. He’s a 5-star Governor, the first among equals in this country, if not the No. 1 Governor in the country, and as such, if you’re posing up an event you must have the best of the best. So, we had 51 artistes coming to celebrate the Best Governor in Nigeria. We had over 200 artistes on standby, and we had 51 artistes who made it significant.
Security is a matter of concern now, how did you convince people to come to the show?
Yes, security was taken care of. We’ve wrote to the Commissioner of Police who sent us men and officers of police force and all the security agencies. They were on standby throughout the course of this event. We couldn’t wait to celebrate the Governor talkless of telling people come and pay a certain amount to join and celebrate the Governor; it would be unheard of because this is not a fund raising event. It was just an event for every Akwa Ibom person, every Nigerian that loves the governor and wants to celebrate his 51 years and pray that he should go beyond 51. Yes, everyone had fun at Sheer Grace Arena yesterday! Akwa Ibom persons are well behaved, we are peace loving citizens and we have peace and tranquility in the state.
After ‘51 Artistes for Godswill Akpabio @ 51’ show, what’s next?
Well, I live a life that stands out for unique stuff; never have been heard of, never have been done, when we started our magazine, E101 magazine with my crew. We set out to be the revolution in print I think we’re the first life style entertainment magazine. We’ve done so many stuffs, this is just one of the things we can do. Earlier on we organized celebrity show down; that was an event that had actors playing against journalists, to celebrate the birthday of the state. We do that every September 23rd, and so we’ve done that for 2 years now. We’ve done the E-101 Face of Valentine which is actually a female pageant to choose an ambassador for charity, we’ve done the first Akwa Ibom Music Summit which actually took place on June 1st 2013, there was world music day at M-lounge (Monty Suites) where we had a lot of musicians in this part of the world and beyond, converge there and we had key speakers. We’ve always been doing stuffs that have never been done around here, and so, ‘51 Artistes for Godswill Akpabio @ 51’ was one of those activities, I and my team created to set a pace for events in Akwa Ibom State to show that we can do these things. We have the right environment and the right encouragement! We’re going forward to the next event which definitely will be in first quarter of next year. We’re events people, we are entertainment people; so we will always be doing events, always be making sure that we do stuffs that have never been done in this part of the world.
The promo revealed that Akwa Ibom artistes took centre stage, was the show meant for only Akwa Ibom Artistes?
No, it wasn’t mean for Akwa Ibom Artistes alone; there were different set of promos, maybe the one you saw, carried more Akwa Ibom artistes. Be that as it may, we had more Akwa Ibom artistes than artistes from other places, because Governor Akpabio is from Akwa Ibom State. Charity must begin at home. We spoke to other artistes based in Lagos, some grade A Artistes who were expected to join us as soon as the logistics can be taken care of. Meanwhile, we had an artiste from Philippines. We had some other artistes that were not Akwa Ibomites and they all performed. Our people say, if the owner of the house has not eaten, the soup must not finish. That means had 90 percent Akwa Ibom content; the other 10 percent was shared amongst other nationalities around the country and beyond.
What else would you like to tell us about the show?
The show proved that first, we love our governor, and as such we can’t take back seat for anybody to celebrate more than we do. As Akwa Ibomites, secondly as entertainers, we must be in the forefront, we must be the one showing people how to celebrate our own, because we know what we have. Two, we must also show that we put together an industry to do something. We had comedians, dance acts, the whole entertainment industry, script writers, movie directors, producers, marketers- everybody that makes up this industry coming together to celebrate this man.
We proved a point that this industry can come together if properly motivated, and if we can come together to celebrate the governor, then we can come together to do some better for our state and our country. And, I like to also prove a point that that we have talents- the first day I picked up my pen to list 51 artistes for this event, I had over a hundred, that does not include the ones I remembered along the line, maybe friends or those who called me and I told them, sorry you cannot make the event. So’ I’ll like to show that we have talents in this state. It’s like a National team; we have a lot of players, but only 22 or thereabout are playing. Out of the lot that we had, we had to work with only 51, because of the significance of this event, because of the fact that the governor is 51; we had lots of Artistes to choose from, we wanted to showcase these talents to the world that these guys can compete with any artiste in this category with any standing in the world, if given the right motivation and the right platform.
How is the entertainment industry in Akwa Ibom faring under Governor Akpabio-led administration?
Yea, the industry has done better than it did before Akpabio came on board. I must confess this is the first time a governor (I stand to be corrected) is coming to appreciate artistes and artistry. This is the first time a governor is coming to make an entertainment project, one of the flagships of his administration; you can talk about the Tropicana, when you talk Tropicana, you talk entertainment and that is one of the cardinal projects of this administration. It shows that he loves entertainment and he’ll like to have the growth of entertainment. He’ll like to see the growth of entertainment and that’s why he’s sinking so much into the industry. Talking about the cinema, its movie, the entertainment, the 5-star hotel at the Ibom Tropicana, its hospitality and entertainment related, you talk about international conference centre. Remember the governor used to say that Centre can host world heavy weight boxing bout; that means he’s someone that loves and encourages entertainment. This is the first time a governor will come and appreciate talents by giving musicians and actors cars; you know the likes of Pasto Goody Goody, Aity Dennis Inyang, Bishop Imeh Umoh, Mish, lots of artistes have gotten car gift from this administration. I remember in 2011 we had the largest number of participation in the making of the polity where artistes were part of the 2011 election, artistes made so much money during the campaign, local government by local government.
This is the governor that loves entertainment. He will see an artiste, walk, talk with the artistes and wants to see the growth of the artiste. I remember a movie premiered by Emem Isong, the governor made sure almost every actor (Nollywood star) was in Akwa Ibom State. The premier was also sponsored by the government and so he is someone that loves entertainment passionately and we can’t help but say entertainment has fared better under him but we know that we’re going somewhere, and with some more time, where have room to dialogue with him, we will definitely improve on areas that have not yet been touched. Just recently, he gave a whooping sum of 50 million Naira to Nollywood, for a job well done.
If peradventure you were given a slot in the government house, just like Ini Ememobong, A Former President of NANS, now an aide to the government; what will be your take on this?
Well, when we reach that bridge we will cross it, I’ll like to say I love entertainment, I’ll like to stay developing talents in the entertainment industry, I’ll like to give encouragement to the budding stars that I see, that i know need exposure, that can do better or like the stars we adore on TV and in the country right now, I’ll like to stay on that path for now.
What are your wishes to His Excellency?
Okay. I wish his Excellency, Chief (Dr.) Godswill Akpabio, CON, the best that life has to offer. Fortunately, at 51 he has achieved what most of us would want to achieve. I wish that he’ll become a worlds’ statesman, right about now, he’s top on the Nigerian standings. I wish that when he gets out of office, he’ll become a worlds’ statesman. We know that he was born to lead, so, he should stay on the course of leadership, he must continue to offer leadership to his people, even when he is out of government; he must not fail us, by abandoning the ship of Akwa Ibom State to Charlatans and to persons who do not have the sheer love he has. He must always be there to play that fatherly role and continue to guide us, and continue to offer the best of leadership as endowed by God. You know, if God gives you a gift, he expects you to put it to best use. Akpabio is one of the rare leaders this state has produced, and so he must always continue on that path, making sure that Akwa Ibom gets the best and we hope that someday, somehow when we find ourselves in position of, maybe, political leadership, we can always run to him, and say father you were here before, how do we go about this? That is my wish for him, I wish him long life, I wish the best for his family, his children, his wife, and I wish him everything he wishes for himself.