*Tells his NDLEA story
Babatunde Omidina known as Baba Suwe is a successful comedian better known for his exploits in Yoruba home videos. He is still arguably the most popular Yoruba comedian of his time. But Baba Suwe hasn’t been having it easy. After the much publicised crisis with National Drug Law Enforcement Agency,NDLEA, he lost his wife, Omoladun, who was almost always his soul-mate, even in films. Baba Suwe talked with Potpourri, opening up his heart on a number of issues, Excerpts:
When did you begin to act?
I started acting at 18 when I dropped out of secondary school, then I was in form four. I developed the passion when Baba Mero and his group came to Children boarding school in Osogbo to act. After watching them, I got drums and other musical instrument, picked some guys in my street like Mufitau Ilumoka, Sola Taiwo and a host of others and formed a theater group. And that was what metamorphosed into the brand ‘Baba Suwe’ today.
Are you saying you never went for any training?
No, I didn’t and I was not trained by anybody. I was born with the talent of putting smiles on faces, so I really did not need any training.
Your first show?
My first show was at Amuto playing ground, Lagos Island. Although it was a free show but I was so happy because it recorded a huge success.
What was your first movie?
I did not start with home videos rather I started with soap opera “Erin keke”. My first film was “Omo Lasan” by Mr Obalende. But the first film I produced was “Baoku” in the 90s.
Some people believe you over act some scenes. Your comment?
It is not my fault. Most times when I am on set, I make the director, film editor and a lot of others laugh that they forget to cut out the unnecessary parts. Some people have even confronted me that it is because I didn’t acquire any professional training is why I over act, but it is not true.
Tell us your background?
I am a special specie created by God. I hail from Igbgogbo, Ikorodu, Lagos State but born and bred on the Island. My father was an average Nigerian who was into trading of eye-glasses and my mother was a trader . I am the only child between my parents. My father had three wives. I dropped out of secondary school when I was in form four. Growing up for me was tough but fun. I enjoyed every bit of it because I was quite mischievous. As a teenage, I didn’t really know the importance of education but thank God, I am managing well. I am also a different person from what you see on the screen, a quiet and easy-going person.
As a child, who were you looking up to?
Then I wanted to be like Michael Jackson who was known all over the world but now I know better.
What has acting brought you.?
Acting has brought me many good things that I can not say here. I do not think I would have done well in any other field.
How have you been coping without a wife?
It has not been easy but life must go on. I believe whatever happens has been pre-ordained. The death of Omoladun was a great loss I cannot get over in this lifetime. She will remain my best companion. She understood me than any other person on planet earth. At times when we quarrel in the house, she would abuse me on set and that would mark the end of the issue.
Any plan of remarrying?
Yes . In fact pretty soon.
Who is the lucky bride?
You can’t know her for now. She is not an actress because I can’t marry an actress again.
Are you insinuating Omoladun was not a good wife?
No, I don’t mean anything of such. What I mean is that I cannot get someone like Omoladun among the actresses again. Her good acting skills is one of the reasons I loved her but I have decided to check else where for love.
After the death of Omoladun, your step daughter accused you of killing her mother?
That is mere rumour. She later came out to say she never said that. We were all staying in the same building. Omoladun was hypertensive for a long time and I did my best as a husband, a friend, and colleague to take adequate care of her. At a time she spent months at a hospital. The day the bad incident happened, I was about praying when I told my child to go wake Omoladun because we had an appointment. It was this child who ran out to call me and with the help of neighbors, we rushed her to the hospital. The doctor confirmed her death on arrival.
Has her death affected your career?
Not really. There are many people who can take her role but I miss her so much. After her death, I produced “Baba Jaiye” part two and it was a huge success.
Would you say many competitors like Baba Latin, Baba Ijesa etc have taken over from you?
No, Baba Latin and the rest can never render me useless. I have a good relationship with all of them especially Baba Latin. Everything in life is time.
Many people now believe you are not as funny as you used to, what is your comment?
That is never true. It is only people without eyes that will say that. It is my God-given talent that can never wear out.
How did you feel during the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency NDLEA crisis?
It was a tough time for me. I have been traveling for years and something like that never happened. It is a setup but I do not know the culprits till date. Even after two days of not excreting cocaine as expected, I was not left off the hook. Some even said I used charms but if that is true many herbalists in Nigeria should be billionaires. I spent more than nineteen days sleeping on a couch for something I know nothing about.
What were you going to do at Paris before you were detained?
I was suppose to meet the person who handles my family’s ticketing abroad. The man wanted my presence at the naming ceremony of his new child. On that same day, I went to Nigerian Aviation Handling Company NAHCO’S office to get my cameras as I traveled to America a month earlier to get filming equipment like cameras and generator before heading to the Airport. I was also to be Master of Ceremony there.
Now that your lawyer, Bamidele Aturu is dead, what is the next line of action?
I really don’t know what next to do but I believe his colleagues will not disappoint me.
Do you believe you deserve the 25 million naira compensation?
Yes I do. The crisis traveled so far that even if I use all the newspapers in Nigeria to say my own side of the story, some people will still not believe it. It almost killed me, tarnish my image and my career.