By Aramide Pius
An Urhobo but born in Jos, Peter Igho until his retirement did all he could to make the NTA what it is today. Last year, he retired at the mandatory age of 60. But for his zeal and enthusiasm in doing what he likes to do, he was called back to serve as the Director General of the Lottery Regulating Commission.
In this interview with Showtime, Igho speaks with Aramide Pius on his new office and the challenges that come with it.
How are you enjoying your new office as DG Lottery Commission?
It has been very challenging but I like pioneering. When I came in, most of the things I needed were not on ground.
But that did not the disturb me because I am used to taking things off the ground. I found a lot of things very challenging and in the last three months, I have been up and doing and within that time, I think the whole country now knows that there is a Lottery Commission.
How were you appointed to serve at the Lottery commission?
Well, it gets to a point where you grow beyond, and once you have shown competence, then you are capable of handling variety of endeavors. My over 33 years of experience in the NTA and my first three years teaching experience have paid off after all.
Even in the area of broadcasting, which I did for over 33years, I handled from programme content to management to marketing and all that. And what I am doing now is the commission of all of them. I handle media, marketing and administration. So, whatever you have done in the past and you have excelled, prepares you for any position that this country can throw at you.
The moment you were appointed, what ran through you?
It is a great deal of pleasure to see that having served the country to the mandatory retirement age of 60 years, and exactly one year after to be called back to serve the country again is something that I believe everybody will be happy about.
It shows that people have noticed that you served well and still feel you can still offer something to the country. So, it was a privilege and it was an honour to be called upon. I was quite touched.
When you got to the mandatory retirement age, what were you planning to do with your retirement before you were called back to service again?
Having worked for decades, I thought that now that I am on my own, I could work for myself and at my own pace. I was basically looking at production and consultancy.
So, I can begin to share my knowledge of experience with others and I am glad to say that from day one of my retirement, I was getting offers from government and people to come and be consultants to them in various aspect of training, content development and migration from analogue to digital which most of them were working at.
So I was consulting from the scratch for all of them and I was also drawing up a number of training programmes in the lecture circuits, going round delivering lectures and keynote dresses relating to broadcast and all of that. It was in the middle of all these that I was called back to service.
What are the guiding principles and philosophies that helped you got to this point?
One of the major reasons I achieved all I did was because I was doing what I like to do. For me, TV was something that I was involved in, from my very conscious years as a child. I grew up in Jos where there were about four to five cinemas.
There were no televisions then but there were cinemas. I practically grew up in the cinemas; I attended movies in the morning, afternoon and night. So, we got to understand the movie and from that time, I knew I wanted to go into that kind of business. Even when I went through secondary school, through to University, everything that I did was geared towards one day getting into that.
So, when that day came and I was part of it, I was glad because for me, it was doing what I like, even if I was not paid for it. I was doing what I wanted. I could watch TV 24 hours. Most times, I will sleep off watching TV and my wife will practically switch off the TV most of the times. I also discovered at an early age that nothing good comes easy. Many people were coming into the broadcast business for the wrong reasons simply because for many of them, it was a glamour
But they fail to know that behind such glamour comes the hard work that will propel the quality that people will admire.
Knowing that from an early age made me dedicated and that made me develop the philosophy that yes, it is glamorous but you must work hard to ensure it remains that. Otherwise, if the viewer watches you and you are not making sense, he switches off the set and goes somewhere else and your job is gone.
So, the viewerâ€™s satisfaction must be your end game.Â You must put up that extra mileage because we are working in an environment that is not ideal. Most of the times, the cameras are not working. You want to go out on location and the vehicle is not there; you have to go in your own car to carry your own artistes.
Most of the times, there was even no fund to buy food or drinks for them on location. You use your own money to do that or sometimes you send a note to your wife to bring you your lunch which you now share with people on location. You want to put up a set on the studio and there are no curtains….Â You go to your house and bring out your curtains.
Those are the extra things you do to make the difference in the end. If you leave everything undone because of the non availability of facilities, then people will not know what you can do because nobody praises what they have not seen.
So, all along, if you have the passion, you must drive that passion and put in that selflessness and sacrifice that must come many times. I can remember when I was given the Life Time Achievement Award at the AMAA, I dedicated it to my wife and children.
Because we want to excel, we are out there working, and our children grow up without us being at home with our wives. We are out there making people happy at a cost to yourself, a cost to your family and a cost to people close to you.
So, most of the time, the success we have gotten from our endeavours comes from doing the right thing but also giving a lot more of yourself to ensure that you achieve excellence, not just good but the best.
How supportive were your parents when they knew about your chosen career?
At the time I came out of University and decided on what I wanted to do, the public service came to the Universities to recruit.Â I was one of those interviewed and employed. My mum and brothers asked, why teaching?Â But my father said no, that the teaching profession prepares you for everything.
Sitting down, drawing up school notes and attending to young men and seeing them grow and all that, prepares you a lot for the future. I did that for three years. But because I have the knack for creative art, even while teaching them, I wrote plays and I used them for the students to perform.
That also broadened their horizon and one of such we did was a dance drama. The principal of the school was so happy with what we did and made us travel round the entire state with it and when we travelled the entire state with it, we got to the state capital which was Sokoto then.
The governor at that time heard about it and wanted to see it and when he did, they chose it as the state entry for the 1974 festival of the Cultural and Arts. Among the 12 states that entered for the festival that year, we were among the three winning entries for that year.
Just like my father used to say that, â€˜the chick that will grow up to be a cock, will be. Come rain, thunder or whatever, it will get thereâ€™.
When I was posted to Bida, my people said â€˜what are you going to do in Bida? That little village.â€™ But from that little village, I came to win at the national level in Lagos. So, no matter where you are, if God says you will get there, and you put in that extra effort, you will surely get there.
How did you then get into the NTA?
Based on that success, when they were going to set up the television in 1975 in Sokoto, I was now being sought after. They wanted me to come and be pioneer member but because during that festival of Arts and Culture, I had learnt not to leave the team I went with. I was in charge of the entire Sokoto State entry and there was a lot of money there to be made.
Because I was in charge of all the troupes, their costumes, their pocket money and everything else, and there was so much money to be made. So, when they now wanted me to come to television, my brothers said no, what are you going to do in television?
It is just â€˜produced and directed byâ€™,Â whereas here, there is money in culture and arts. But my father said, no if he wants to go there, fine, because a good name will bring him that wealth later because wealth without a good name is not good. So, I now went. My father had been there and had supported me all the way. He inspired a lot of what I have done.
From the very day I was born, my mother had always told me that I am different and that my name, Odewanure, meaning my name, has passed others.
A deep name.
According to my mother, we have a family book in which my father wrote circumstances of all our births and mine is almost truer than fiction. My mother before me, had given birth to about five boys and about three had died remaining only two.
And so she was looking forward to a girl; she wanted a girl. So, when she was pregnant with me, according to the records in the book, she was sure it was going to be a girl. So, she was always saying, â€œI am going to have a company now, at least a girl to keep me companyâ€™.
She was buying things for girl, until my father who had been out working in the mines came back. They had a very bad month; So, he had come back very, very unhappy. And in the night, he went to bed. And about 1.am, my mother went and woke him up to say â€˜please , please, where is your book and my father said, â€˜ do you know what time it is?â€™
And she said, â€˜yes it is about 1amâ€™.Â He said, â€˜Look, canâ€™t it wait until morning?â€™ And she said no, because I had a dream in which I was talking to the child I am going to give birth to.â€™ And my father said , â€˜okay wait until morningâ€™ but my mother said no.
It was very urgent that she told him. So, my father got up and brought the book and asked what the child told her. And she said the child says, â€˜I am sorry, I am not going to be a girl. When I come, Iâ€™m going to be a boy but there will be a girl after me. So donâ€™t worry, you will get your girl after me. And when I come to this world, in everything I do, I will always excel. My name will always go beyond everybody elseâ€™sâ€™ meaning â€œOdewanureâ€.
My name has gone beyond everybody elseâ€™s. So, my father wrote down all and slept. So his first shock was that less than a week later, she had a baby and it was a boy. He started taking notice and thought this woman may be right after all.
All through my primary school, whenever I got back from school and I am first in class, my mother will say â€˜you have already said it before; Iâ€™m not surprisedâ€™. This is what I was told, but because my mother always challenged me with that, so I always had that in mind. So I put in that extra effort all the time to make sure I donâ€™t disappoint her.
So, in anything I did, I would always be conscious- look my mother is expecting me to excel. So, I must put in the extra mile to do it. And, of course, as soon as I get my result, I would always rush to her first and she would say, â€˜I am not surprised, you have always said it yourself that you will always excelâ€™. So in that way, she had influenced a lot of what I have done because many times I am lazy, I am tired and I want to sleep but I will have a rethink because if I go and miss this thing, I will disappoint my mother.
So, I will go back again and put in that extra effort. So, whether it was psychological, whether it was just an ordinary dream, but the content of that her dream has influenced my life in many ways.
Having put in so much into the movie industry, what is your opinion of Nollywood of today?
Talking about the movie industry first and foremost, you must commend those who have taken it to this level now. When nobody believed in them, when nobody knew what they were doing, they went to borrow money, took money their money.
The marketers whom people malign today, took their business money and put it where nobody, not even the banks, want to put their money. And, of course, he who pays the piper, dictates the tune. So, within the limits of their expenses, they have pushed this industry where today the whole world is aware that there is a movie industry.
Many of us may abuse it, many of us may say, oh it is badâ€™ but where would it be today without all those people who are there? So, let us start by commending them- the actors, the writers, the producers, the marketers, all those who have contributed in bringing the industry to this level where anywhere you go today, 90 percent of the movies are from Nigeria. So, that we must commend.
Having done that, what we have been pushing across will cut off the mainstream cinema. We have brought in what we produce, put on videos, straight to the home. They are home videos. Now, we judge them by the quality of what we see in cinemas, which is not right.
If we want to begin to produce what must be good enough to be shown in the cinemas, in terms of content and technical quality, we must be ready to put in everything that is required. Fortunately for us, we now have a bedrock of this home video to start off. What we must now begin to talk about is quality, in terms of story lines, and we have a lot of that.
Technology is growing now we talking of high definition and a lot of highly technical facilities that are now available. I shot Cockcrow at Dawn on celluloid 16mm, when video was not even there; I worked on film. So, the first I produced which was Cockcrow at Dawn was shot on film. So, we can begin to talk about all these technical expertise and bringing them down.
Fortunately, we are also now talking about better training for all stakeholders in the industry. One of it is the Nigerian first movie initiative which I set up which is something I am working with to develop in the higher level of training and capacity development for every aspect of movie making from the writers to the directors, to all arms.
So that whoever comes in to the business must be better trained from the initiative which I have put forward, and once that is done, you will begin to see the ripple effect. You will find that with the training, every movie that comes will be better than the one before.
As people see better quality and better people are trained, it will have a ripple effect that will be positive on all other endeavours. We will get there because thatâ€™s where the money really lies; when we begin to produce movies that can be shown in mainstream cinemas. I believe and I have high hopes in the future of the movie industry.
How did you meet your wife?
When I was posted to Bida, I was still teaching and I walked into the super market one day, there she was. Her uncle was the manager of the place and she had come on holidays to stay with him and help out at the super market. Thatâ€™s where we met.
So, what led to what?
The usual boy meets girl. Every time I went there, I ensured she was the one I talked to and the chemistry blended and here we are today. The good thing about those days was that the moment you resumed work, youâ€™re given a form to fill for car loan, and within a week, I had brought my car.
As I resumed work in Bida, fortunately, there was this Estate that was built with the support of the American government and the very first bungalow was issued to me. So, I had a brand new car. I had a brand new house and donâ€™t forget that I was young and hot too.
I did not do youth service. I was the last set before youth service started. So all the people who arrived for youth corps service from the next year, from my university, they would tell them to come to my house,Â that Peter Igho was there. So, my house was a full one.
At that same time also, there was what we called the BSOs, British Young volunteers whom they sent to do one year, and there were also the Americans; the American peace corps, all living around my house. By the time everybody got to know who I was, my house became a meeting point. Everyday was a party in my house and many of my friends who thought they had never met oyinbo before, my house was a place to meet them.
That was where everybody came. This was going on for a year and a half and I woke up one day and I told myself that this had to stop. I had to settle down. Besides, I had grown up with many of my relations and I saw old men carrying babies to school and I promised myself that I would not have children when old. I wanted to grow up with my children.
So, I just decided at that point that I was going to meet someone and all that. So, I needed somebody who could tolerate me and my lifestyle.
So, when I saw her and she started coming to my place, I saw that she was the stable type who did not mind a lot of what I was doing, and I said okay, this is where to hang on. When I started courting her, most of my friends were surprised. They said it was the time to enjoy myself. But I said no, that I wanted to grow up with my children.
Years later, when my children were already grown up to 12/ 15 years, some them just started having their own children. They now began to see what I meant. So, when they see me with my children all grown up and we are all talking like friends which is what we are, they understood what I was