Multiple award winning comedian and actor, Julius D’Genius Agwu, held his first show in Abuja since he recovered from brain surgery. It marked the revival of his annual festival of love. The last edition was held in 2016. The 2018 edition tagged, Back and Better, was held at the prestigious Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, last Sunday, just before Valentine’s Day.
In a chat with Sunday Sun on Tuesday at the Transcorp Hilton, he spoke about the annual show and explained why Nigerians should take keen interest in the upcoming 2019 elections.
What was the response to your first show in Abuja after your surgery?
It was positive. I must say that it’s been very awesome. It’s called Festival of Love and Abuja people are my people. The fact is that everyone in Abuja before now kept asking why big budget comedy events were being held in Lagos only. That interest was the main reason that motivated me right from time to bring Crack Ya Ribs to Abuja, and then Laugh For Christ Sake. These two were then followed by Festival of Love.
I have been holding the Festival of Love but last year and the year before last it did not hold because of my health. I thank God I did it and the people that heard about it came out.
Were your sponsors still there for you as they used to before your ill health?
The truth is that Dana Air took care of our flights, so our gratitude goes to them and some individuals who just came out to support because they are thankful to God that He preserved my life. They felt that the fact that I’m still alive shows that I am blessed. I hear people say, thank God for your life and that is exactly the meaning of that Show, I’m Back and Better. It is just to tell Nigerians that there is nobody as strong as God.
Did the supporting artists live up to their billing?
The supporting artists were great entertainers such as Okey Bakassi, who happens to be my bossom friend right from time. The surprise of the night was reggae musician, Blackky. People were asking, ‘Who is he?’ I had to remind them about his song “Can I have dance Rosie ehann.” He really tried. Sound Sultan thrilled the audience, he is a star and he is someone that cuts across wherever you come from; Senator and Dan D’Humorous, anchored the show, Nedu Wazobia, Harrysong and Romeo. Others that appeared were MC Jay, Mimicko, Chuks D’General, Ko Baba, Emma OhMaGod, Mudiaga and Saco.
Some of these guys have appeared on my precious shows held in London and America. Mimicko is young and he calls himself my last born. Just as the name suggests he mimics, he can mimic anybody including you.
I have done two shows since I recovered from my surgery, Crack Ya Ribs in Port Harcourt and Festival of Love in Abuja. I want to take it easy but people should be on the lookout, keep your ears and eyes open. But the truth is that Julius Agwu is back and better and I am ready to take on the shows.
Has recession in anyway affected the entertainment industry?
The recession is affecting everything. Is it not affecting you? The problem with us in this country is that people just want to enrich and enrich themselves, if you die that is the end. The truth is that whoever I meet I tell them, ‘Come let’s grow Nigeria.’ People who know me know that this is what I preach.
The truth is that I like how everybody is preaching now, go and register and get your PVC. I was at COZA the morning before the show and I was impressed with Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, he was telling the congregation to go and get their PVC and be ready to vote come 2019. The truth is that before now Nigerians did not care about voting but everybody should go and get their PVC and be ready to vote in 2019. It is time for us to begin to take decisions that matter to us.
I can be a president tomorrow. Who is the president of France? He is a young man but in Nigeria they will kill you if you dare.
The truth is that everyone that is of voting age and is not yet registered should go and do so. I’m happy that this time around everyone is sensitized. Nigerians are living poorly, everybody is complaining while some others are enjoying the wealth. I’m just pleading with everyone to go pick up their PVC and be ready to vote their choice in 2019.
But many people hold the view that our young people are also not ready to take up leadership position, what is your view on this?
That is the impression because some people have not been able to think of it that it is their right. The elderly think it is their duty but young people don’t think so. Nigerians are vast in every area. Nigerians are outstanding in countries of their residence like America and several other places.
Lately, some Nigerians seem to be interested in comedy, but do not know how to go about it. What’s your advice to them?
Well, the truth is that any show I do as a matter of principle, I try to showcase up and coming acts. For instance, there is a group of boys called ICE that came from Port Harcourt for this show, they had performed at the Port Harcourt Show. I met them for the first time in a show in Kano, organized by one of the boys I trained and had appeared on one of my shows in Abuja, Crack Ya Ribs. He is big in Kano and he is known as MC Jay. So I saw those boys dance on his show and they were awesome and I invited them to be part of the Christmas Show 2017 in Port Harcourt.
So the boys have been trying to see me after that show and so I invited them to see me here at the Hilton a day after the Show. They couldn’t believe it that they were in Hilton and that they could see me. They were totally overwhelmed. My point is that, anybody that doesn’t bring anybody up, is not contributing to growing Nigeria. I support anybody that supports me, right from my PAs. I for one know that those boys will go places.
As you are aware, I read Theater Arts at the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State. I attended a workshop organized by the Thespians, they didn’t believe I would come. The boys were just telling me when they saw me in Abuja that people were doubting that I was in attendance but when they confirmed I was there, they told themselves let’s go there, truly he came. Monalisa Chinda was my junior in UNIPORT, Ibakuku was my senior, Basorge Tariah was my senior, Francis Duru was my senior and we got involved in a movie together, Rattle Snake.
We have established comedians like yourself and the ones that have come after you. Will you say they are the generation next?
They are comedians and in the entertainment business and so for anybody in this industry, my advice is this: whatever you are doing ensure you stand out, keep improving progressively because your target audience matters, if you don’t have it you will definitely drop out.
The current administration is preaching diversification, do you see the entertainment industry as the next big thing after oil and agriculture?
The entertainment industry is big. Look at America for example, they release films like every day and they are breaking even and I tell you Nigeria has gotten to that. When we started Nollywood there was a bit of confusion about what to name it. There were no films like we see today. I remember when Francis Duru and I did the film “Great Experience” in Abuja. I also remember when we used to go to Enugu to shoot films. Enugu was not developed then but today they have moved to Asaba now. So everything about entertainment is big, even the social media.
The entertainment industry got a lot of support from the Goodluck Jonathan administration, how do you think this present government can help grow the industry?
I don’t know if you can call that support. I know the Bank of Industry supported Film House Cinema, it supported movies but I don’t know how many of them have paid back their loans but they are building houses now, so that is fine. I know that Film House has paid back and that is good. If you take a loan there is nothing as good as paying back the loan and that convinces the people that you know what you are doing.
We can use entertainment to mirrior what is happening in the society and we are already doing that. Everything happening in the National Assembly and other leadership positions of this country, we have a way of showing it. The entertainment industry helped to popularize Senator Dino Melaye’s Aje ku Iya ni oje. Someone in the entertainment industry who spoke up against tithe has also forced some churches to talk on the issue. But paying tithe is a personal thing because the truth is that it is written in the bible that anybody that pays his tithe is blessed.