Thursday 18 April 2013

Emceeing 2face Idibia’s Traditional Marriage brought me extra fame – Utang Akwa Ibom

This is an interview I conducted with popular balladeer and comedy star, Utang Akwa Ibom which was published on Community Pulse newspaper. I’ve never took part in an interview that is as humorous as this. See the excerpts after the cut…

It is one of the most hilarious interviews a journalist would ever conduct. Utang Akwa Ibom has come a long way in the state’s entertainment industry both as a balladeer and an MC. His fame has risen since after emceeing the traditional marriage of 2face/Annie Idibia and subsequently that of Nollywood star Nse Ikpe Etim. The dark-skinned rib-cracker in this chat with IFREKE NSEOWO (Sunday Editor) and EKEMINI SIMEON spoke on his venture into the entertainment industry, politics and his family. He is so fond of his wife, as he divulges that he married a very fat woman in order to use her to make comedy and money as well. Excerpts:

Who is Utang Akwa Ibom?

How should I answer? This one people say am unserious, how would I? Actually my name is Hon. David Sergeant. By the special grace of God, I am from a village by name Afaha Offot. Afaha Offot is one of the villages that make up Ward 6 in Uyo LGA, Akwa Ibom State. I am a married man with 3 children. My wife is the fattest women in Akwa Ibom State. I can describe her as chairman, Fat Women Association Akwa Ibom State. That’s all about Utang Akwa Ibom.
Why did you decide to marry a fat woman as a wife?
Lovely question! If an opportunity is given to me to choose a wife again honestly I will like to go with the same woman. I married a fat woman so that I can use her to make comedy and make my money. If you see my wife you know that she is very fat. I don’t think my wife can pass my office entrance. She is very fat and tall. But most important she is a learned woman, a medical practitioner in the Teaching Hospital. She is a nurse there. Very sound woman, at the same time I love her so much, I don’t think I can marry any other woman in this world. She has given me all my kids.

How did you get into the entertainment industry?
As I can recall, back then in primary school, when events took place I used to present ballad. I later started to MC. Then I jumped into media work. I recall when I went to market to buy a small radio and tape, then I recorded my voice. At that point, when I present ballad, I was often given little money. I later jointed Bush House. I must give credit to Michael Bush because I started with him at NTA. I started 9 years ago precisely on April 5 2004 and after then I jumped to A-Z TV programme.
By the special grace of God, AKBC TV gave me opportunity for me to be among their presenters. And for 6 years now I have been with AKBC TV.
Now, talking about MC Job, I realized that emceeing is my call. The reason I say so is that wherever I go to MC people always celebrate me, giving kudos to me. They also appreciate what ever I do at an event I’m invited or paid to emcee. That is what makes me to understand that emceeing is my call.
You have mentioned that at first you were not in the media industry, so which industry were you before?
I was a businessman. I used to travel to Lagos to buy some goods which I often sold at the then Uyo Main Market. But as time elapsed, I realized that that is not my line. I ventured into entertainment industry and then God blessed me.  For this reason I have been in Ghana, and recently I just came back from Dubai because of emceeing. I emcee in big events. I have emceed in Lagos, Calabar, Abuja and many other cities in Nigeria. This is why I say MC Job as my calling.

How did you get the name Utang Akwa Ibom?

Thank you so much! You see, 9 years ago when I started TV presentation at Bush House, I went there as David Sergeant until one day when I finished presentation, people started calling me Utang Akwa Ibom. I don’t even know how and why they chosed the name for me. But now I have discovered that the name may even become a legacy even after I die.
What have been your challenges?
One of the challenges is that people keep on saying that Utang  Akwa Ibom is not an educated person based  on the fact that I use my mother dialect to present my programme and also by the mere fact that in most events I emcee I use Ibibio language. Besides, when a balladeer presents ballad, many people say they are not educated. While I may agree with their assertion to a certain extent, I won’t hesitate to say to it is not totally right because to me, education is the bedrock of any success.  I don’t think anybody can achieve what he or she wants apart from education.
Also, women are one of those challenges that I’m facing now. As a celebrity, every woman will like to come your way. But I thank God for a woman God has given to me as a wife. I used to tell people that if opportunity comes my way to choose a wife again, I will like to go with the same woman I am marrying now. Based on the fact of her simplicity, generosity, acceptability, humility, Christianity, she is 100%. She understands me in all ramifications.
You have said that women are part of your challenges. Do they make attempts to seduce you?
Oh, a lot. At times at night maybe when am sleeping with my wife they will call me and when I ask who the caller is they will say “it’s your wife” (laughs).  Can you imagine that? In the other way round, had it been that my wife lacked understanding maybe she would think that her husband is promiscuous, and that will be injurious because I am not a promiscuous man. Fidelity is always my watchword.

What about your experience as a politician?
Politics is one thing I think I can’t do without. 2013 will be making it the 6th year I’m hosting Utang Akwa Ibom Unity Cup in ward 6. The reason I do that is because I love my people so much, and I ask myself how can I reach out to these people as utang Akwa Ibom? I discovered that I needed to come out with this idea.

Besides, sometimes when you wake up and go to your gate, you will realize that at least 10 people will stand there expecting money from you. Hence, one day my wife called me and said “Keke” because that’s the name she calls me and I call her “NAPEP”. She said each day you will use the feeding money to give out to people, why not venture into politic so that you will have money there and sponsor the needy. I admired the idea from the wonderful woman. I then bought her idea and entered into politics. When I entered I realized that politics itself was even looking for me for quite a long time. Politics have given me a room; it has accommodated me because as we are here it is politics that has given me this office.
Yes! Politics is where you can reach out to large number of people. You can use politics to touch lives positively. Although I am not an elected officer now, I believe by 2015 as it pleases my God, I will be an elected officer. By then, when I succeed, I will build what is called Skill Acquisition Centre. If I don’t venture  into politics, perhaps I might  not be  that benevolent  because I wouldn’t be that  financially  buoyant. Actually, I like   politics so much. Of course, I’m looking forward to be a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I’m looking forward to be an House member, even a local government chairman, all by the special grace of God.
To accommodate these two wide fields is not easy because entertainment work is one of the jobs that need your time so much because you will definitely travel far and wide. At that point, who will take your place as the Special Assistant in the council? So for me to accommodate and manage this time is not easy, but since God is the one that called me into this service, I bank on him to help me use my time judiciously in order to achieve my goals.
You have mentioned that you need a greater ground to display your benevolence in 2015. On what capacity do you want to do this?
According to the zoning system I realized that in my ward I’m favoured by the zoning system come 2015 in my ward. This is because Afaha Offot is one of the villages that make up ward 6 in Uyo LGA. I have realized that out of the 9 villages, 7 villages have been opportune to elect Councillors to represent the ward. It is only Afaha Offot of which I am fortunate to be an indigene that has not produced a Counselor. We have not gotten a Counselor since the creation of this state. That is why I say this is the turn of my people; I must go to serve my people because I realized that politics is a calling for me to serve my people.  
You have mentioned that you will be a product of zoning, does that invariably mean you favour 2015 governorship zoning policy?

In terms of that particular area, I won’t say anything now because  what ever my boss the Executive Chairman of Uyo Local Government asks me to do that is what I will do, like wise the Honourable  Commissioner of Environment  and Mineral Resource of Akwa Ibom State Prince  Enobong Uwah, even his Excellency the executive  governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio. It is what they ask me to do that I will do. Based on the fact that they have not said anything about zoning, I don’t think I am in the right position to comment on it particularly the issue of governorship.

Do you respect zoning because if favours you or because you believe in it?
No No! I believe so much in zoning not because it favours me. God forbid! I believe so much in zoning.

You have mentioned that your stand on zoning will be dependent on what your bosses say. As a politician why don’t you use your own discretion? If you assume office will you be taking instructions from them?
Do you realize that loyalty is the road to success in terms of politics? If you I something now and my Oga at the top says something else what will I do?
What was you experience as the MC of 2face Idibia Traditional Marriage?
Lovely! One of the experience I had there was the exposure. I can even recall that I went home with  something   tangible out of appreciation from his Excellency Chief (Dr) Godswill Obot Akpabio and even from the groom too, I’m talking about 2face Idibia. At the same time, I realized that 2face Idibia’s traditional marriage with Annie Macaulay has made me more popular because if you go online now you will realize that Utang Akwa Ibom is going viral. I give Glory to God, now any body that wants to take me as an MC wouldn’t price me with an amount that is paltry and irksome.

What is your take on the SUV given to 2face by Gov. Akpabio?
Anybody who says that 2face Idibia did not deserve the gift does not know what he is saying. 2face Idibia is a celebrity even in the international scene. It is a plus to us to us to have such an in-law, it was even an opportunity for me to see 2face Idibia one-on-one even. Other celebrities that can be reckoned with were brought to Akwa Ibom by that event.

Okay, if his Excellency did not give 2face Idibia a jeep, should he have given him a keke, or am I the one that should have given 2face a prado? 2face deserved it. Besides, His Excellency is a man of generosity.

If you have a poor rib-cracking outing at an event, and possibly get criticism from people, how do you handle it?
Good! When I face one or two challenges at an event, when I get back home I  relax and then do some correction myself. Actually, I like positive criticism, because there are some people who will criticize just to bring you down, but there are others who will criticize you for you to be going higher.
For instance, there are many jokes I have,  before I use it outside I will first apply the joke at home, if my wife  laughs and responds, I will know the joke will excel if she doesn’t laugh I can’t take it outside. There are some jokes you crack and she will openly tell you that that one will not move market.

How do you relax?
Well, my wife keeps on telling me that I am not serious person, so I don’t know those things I do that makes me look unserious. Every time I am a very serious man, even as I am talking to you I am very serious. If I am not serious how can I manage a woman with 3 children, how can be a husband of a fat woman and a father of 3? But, I don’t joke with my wife. In fact I use my wife to make my money, where ever I go I will talk about my wife. And by the time I introduce my wife to any personality people will begin thanking her for coping with this kind of “Mumu”. You know sometimes my wife calls me “nton” and nton means mumu and I’m very happy because that is what I am. I can remember  vividly when I went  to school to pick my child, one of the kids called her mother “mummy  see this mumu man on TV” and her mother wanted to beat her, I said no, that is what I am, why do you want to beat her?

Do you have those you are mentoring?
As I’m talking to you now, I have 6. Akpan Mma, Senator Obong Ibok from Ibesikpo Asutan, there is one MC they call Doctor, Aniebet is a journalist but he came to me and told me he wants to be like me and I took him up. By the special grace of God I can send him now to go and moderate an event as an MC and he is doing well. So those are my products. I can’t eat alone so that I will not die alone.

What is your message about 2015?
As I said earlier, what ever my bosses say, whosoever they say we should support, I will endeavour to give my best.
Where do you see yourself to years from now?
I see myself emceeing an event in White House one of these days. I’m even looking up to moderate Obama’s daughter’s marriage. I’m looking forward to being internationally recognized MC. Admittedly, this work needs education even though I am an undergraduate 100 level student at  Primary School Afaha Offot. Accepted, that is what I am. 10 years to come I will be in United States of America as an MC.

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