I am Steve Eboh; I’m from Nkpokolo Achi in Oji River Local Government Area of Enugu State. My friends call me ‘Ajebo’; my age mates in the village call me ‘Ebube Dike Ndi Achi’. I’m an actor and producer and I do other things.
My nickname, Ajebo
The meaning of Ajebo is ‘no skin pain’, which also means ‘people that are blessed with the grace of God’. That’s just it. No, no, no. I have never relocated to Abuja. I go to Abuja often but you can see this is my house. There is no going out from this house so I have not relocated to Abuja. I travel all over the country in search of greener pastures. My family is in London because my wife, Stephanie is working and schooling at the same time. She is studying for MBA. She is a consultant to the Emirate Stadium, the Arsenal Football Club. My daughter, Kosisochukwu Kosiemelu Steve Eboh, the most beautiful girl in the world is just going to be one year very soon and she will start her schooling. The weather there is good and I don’t want to disturb the education of both of them.
Plan to produce Igbo movies
Every Saturday, DStv’s Africa Magic shows Igbo movies. We are equally trying to have an Igbo television per se. We are working on that seriously with some Igbo films makers. I am in partnership with some groups; before the year runs out, we are going to do about 120 Igbo films. It is a project we are embarking on. We are trying to discuss with ‘Oha na Eze Ndi Igbo’ in Diaspora. The chairman, Dr. Edmund Agbo is actually trying to assist us in doing 120 Igbo films before the year runs out so we can create a proper channel for Igbo films. We are into it; very soon, we will be out.
How I got into movies
I started far back in NTA. I was working actually with a construction company, Cappa and Dalberto, an Italian construction company, the oldest construction company in Nigeria. I was working with them in Lagos here. We had an office at Campbell Street, Lagos. My office was at 2, Okesuna Street, Lagos. Not really. I wasn’t an Engineer.
I read Public Administration before going for Masters in Mass communication in University of Lagos but then as I was working, I had this flair for acting. It has been in me. I come from a family that has a lot of actors, they used to call them for concerts in church so, I started from there. My mother was a very good dancer. People know her and they call her ‘O di n’ura, egwu Udoka teta.’ That is whenever Udoka music is starting; people will say “if my mother is there, the local music will start.” Let me be very honest, I joined the acting industry through NTA’s ‘Tales By Moonlight’, Telemovies and others in late ‘80s, even before the movie industry, the present day Nollywood started, and we started with NEK Video led by Kenneth Nnebue. Up till now, we are in it.
Gains and pains
Well, gain, yes. I have gained a lot by the special grace of God. There you are today, talking to me, I believe that if I am working in a construction company, you won’t come talking to me and I have a lot of goodwill from people. People appreciate me a lot within and outside Nigeria. These are parts of the gains. I make people happy. When people see me, they say “oh my God, I love your last film that I watched.” These are the gains, when you see people appreciate your work, you feel happy within yourself. That’s obvious. When you talk about the loss, it’s just losing your privacy. It doesn’t really matter. You must sacrifice something for something so the pain is just the pain of no privacy. You have nothing to hide. You are just there for people to see. That’s just it.
On AGN presidency
Why do I want to become President of AGN? Because I believe that the Nigerian actors are the lowest paid in the industry. In 1992/1993, I was paid N1000 to appear in a movie, I think the minimum wage in the Federal Civil Service was N1,800. Today, it is N18, 000 but some Nollywood actors are still being paid N1000. The actors are the lowest paid in the industry. I want to come in and make a change. I want to come in and create the Actors’ Guild Cooperative Society where we can do business, make our own films and pay our actors well and then become relevant in the industry. We want to give the actors a ‘say.’ We want to give them relief from their pain. We want to create a pension scheme for the actors. We want to create insurance scheme for the actors so that we can avoid all these hazards. We want to take proper care of them, giving the actors what they deserve, bringing them back to the original master plan of the founding fathers. The welfare of the ‘Nigerian actor’ is paramount. That is why I want to be the president, to uplift the welfare of actors.
On my co-contenders
One of my co-contenders is my sister, my very good friend and colleague, Ibinabo Fiberesima, and I have Emeka Rollas too, my very good friend, colleague and brother. I know him even into his father’s house. This is the kind of friendship we share. Ibinabo has been my very good friend far back so the love and friendship is still there. We are just trying to make AGN better. They have their own programmes for AGN. I also have mine. They believe they can make AGN better. I believe I can make AGN better so Ibinabo, Emeka and my humble self have agenda to make AGN better and everybody is qualified to lead AGN. But I think presently, because of my programmes, criteria and commitment, I’m the best candidate to lead AGN. If we are to move to the next level, Steve Eboh is the best candidate to lead AGN.
On location romance
You go to the bank, it is the same thing, the males and the females work together. Even in the churches, Reverend Sisters and Reverend Fathers work together. There are always bound to be rumour and gossip because stars are stars; they cannot hide so people believe whatever they do on the screen is what they do in real life but let me tell you something, this is business for all of us. There is no romance when you are doing your business. There can never be romance because the job you are doing, you signed a contract for it. Somebody is paying you to do the job. The person will never allow you to leave the job for romance but I am not saying that something could not develop between a male and female - actor and actress on set but it must not be on location. After the whole thing, they can go back and catch their fun and do whatever but there is nothing like location romance; it doesn’t happen.
On sexual harassment
I have read more than 100 interviews of our actresses and none of them have admitted being sexually harassed. I’m not an actress so I can never say that it is true or false. Secondly, I have produced movies in Nigeria and as a producer, I have not harassed any actress and I tell you something, we even beg most of our actresses to accept the price and then accept the script and give you their own time. When you are begging somebody like Genevieve saying, “Genevieve, please can you come on my set? Please can you take this amount of money from me?” Is it then you are going to tell her “can you come and sleep with me?”
For the upcoming actresses, everybody was an upcoming sometime. Lord, if you are good, you are good. Whether you are upcoming or you are up there, producers will come looking for you. Producing a movie is investment. If I’m doing a film of N10 million, I want to bring an actress and I want to have something to do with her and I put the N10 million on the line and I lose my money, no producer will want to do that. But I’ll tell you something again, most of the actresses phone and say “uncle, please, I want to act for you, anything it takes; but because it is investment; you have it behind your heart that you are investing. You don’t want to toy with so many things and secondly, no actress has agreed that she was sexually harassed whether upcoming or up there, none has agreed in any press interview so, I don’t believe it exists. If it does, they will tell us, let them report back to us, then we will deal with the producer.
Between my wife & female fans
My wife is not jealous, she is a good woman. She is a very fine woman. In fact, my wife is my friend, she is my best friend. She knows me very well. She knows what I can do. My wife will tell you that this is what I can do and this is what I cannot do so she is not jealous. She is in charge of my Facebook. You know what? I have more than 1000 fans. She is in charge of my fan base. She is not jealous. If she is jealous, she would have had heart attack long ago.
Ojukwu and I
Late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, ‘amuma na egbe igwe ndi Igbo’ (lightning and thunder of the Igbos). I met him as a very young man. I have worked with him during the NRC/SDP era. He, my humble self, Dr. Ada Ekwueme and Engr. Tony Anochie were actually traveling to places with Tofa then. I traveled to almost everywhere with him. I went to Kano and so many places with him. I discovered the love Ojukwu has for his people, the love Ojukwu has for this country. He believed so much in the Igbo nation.
Why were we traveling all over with him? I was the Secretary of a group called ‘Igbo Youth Convention’ then. We were working directly with Ojukwu. He would always pick on me and say ‘wait’ when everybody was going to sleep. I learnt so much from him. Through him, I got to know a lot of people. After the 1993 election, there was constitutional conference in 1994. We were actually sensitizing people on the Igbo agenda. Why you must be a good Igbo man before you can become a good Nigerian. Definitely, you have to be a good Igbo man before you become a good Nigerian. I was involved because I was working. That was when I concentrated on my movies and everything. But I was constantly visiting Ojukwu. He has been like a father and a wonderful person to me. He is my hero.
My relationship with IBB
IBB is one of my heroes. I see him as a man who is so focused. He knows the problems of this country. I respect him so much for his sincerity. IBB is a man who is so much misunderstood by the public but coming close to him, he is very humble. He is somebody who knows so much about Nollywood. I took some actors to him and he was calling us by name one after the other. He would call your name and mention your movie. That is a man who is at home with Nollywood. Even the Yoruba actors among us were shocked that he even watches Yoruba movies. He is a man I respect so much.