My Vision for Akwa Ibom Entertainment Industry – David Sergeant aka Utang Akwa Ibom

 Known as a popular comedian/MC, David Sergeant aka ‘Utang Akwa Ibom’ is the Special Assistant on Entertainment to Governor, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State. In this chat, he shares his vision for the state in terms of entertainment.

How long have you been in government?
I received my appointment letter in December 2015.  To me I have been almost two years with my boss in office.

So far, what have you done?
My responsibility is to assist my boss who happens to be my governor in the entertainment aspect. When I received my appointment letter, I promised myself not to do this job alone because when we talk about the entertainment industry, it is a very big industry in Nigeria. You cannot do anything without entertainment whether in the social, religious, corporate world and what have you. I started by bringing all the sub sectors together so that they can also work with me. I formed what we call, ‘Ibom Entertainment Working Committee.’ I brought out leaders from all the sub sectors that make up the entertainment industry in Akwa Ibom state. We are a 19-man committee. So far, we have been able to achieve a lot. I want to give glory to God for His enablement and kudos to the governor, for his magnanimity towards the entertainment industry in Akwa Ibom state.

Last year, we had our first ever ‘Ibom Esater Fiesta.’ It was one of the biggest events so far in the state. When Udom marked his one year in office, we had ‘Arise with Udom Concert.’ We gave the platform for the budding artistes to share the stage with the big ones so that they can also have something to boast of. In addition to that, we had ‘Akwa Ibom Unity Concert.’ We brought almost all entertainers together and the people.  It is one thing to come into government and another to remember you. This administration has not forgotten those that voted him into office. We had that show to celebrate the Akwa Ibom people at the Ibom Plaza. It is an open place that accommodated everybody.

Last year, we had a solemn assembly where we also brought in all the entertainers together and prayed for God to bless our industry and He stood by us throughout last year. We did not stop there. We planned our Christmas Village through the office of the Special Assistant to the Governor on the Entertainment Industry although we have not been able to hold that event because of the calamity that took place on December 10 when we had the collapse of Reigners Bible Church building. But it was one of the programmes in our calendar last year.

Never in the history of Akwa Ibom State had we had an entertainers’ night. In Lagos it is called the ‘Entertainment Industry Night’ but in Akwa Ibom we decided to call it ‘Entertainers Night.’ The purpose of that gathering is to see how we can bring all the entertainers together because if we are divided, we cannot achieve anything. On that particular date, we had old and new artistes from all the sub sectors that made up the state. It was a unified opportunity for all entertainers. It was a wonderful event.
This year we had our first ‘Entertainers Night’ on first Wednesday of February. We will continue to do it once every month. It is an opportunity for suggestions to be given to move the industry forward.

What plans do you have his year?
We will be hosting the "Nigeria Entertainment Investment Summit" sometime in March this year and the symposium will be how to invest in the entertainment industry. It will be a three day event. After that, we would have what we call the second edition of ‘Ibom Easter Fiesta.’ Apart from that, we will look into the angle of empowering budding artistes by way of organising a talent hunt show. When we have the winners, we will push them to the national level to have a record label with people that matters in the entertainment industry. As we had the ‘Arise with Udom Concert,’ this year will be season two. 

That event will take place in May when the Governor will mark his second year in office. On June 21, we would have the first ever ‘Ibom Music Festival.’ That will take place at the international stadium. We are bringing in veteran and popular musicians both from national and international level with the support of the governor. This year, the second edition of ‘Ibom Unity Concert’ will take place on September 24. We can also see how we can use entertainment to make money by organising workshops for entertainers because this people may have the talent but they do not have the platform to showcase their talents. Some have talents but they don’t know how to use it. All these people need orientation. We will move veterans to the state to teach how artistes can make money with their talent and at the end of the workshop, they will go home with certificates.

What we were unable to achieve last year like I did mentioned about our Christmas village, we are working tirelessly to make sure we achieve that. I believe we can use entertainment to positively upgrade the present economic and financial situation of the state.
Christmas village will be an avenue where all entertainers will showcase their talents and then we will use that same medium to generate revenue like building of kiosks for vendors. From the money we make from the revenue, we will pay the artistes. It is all about giving back to society.

Do you really have the support of the governor for all these laudable projects as some Special Assistants to Governors in some State are just there by name without having the support of their principal?
My Governor is with me one hundred per cent. We have a Governor who do not believe in fanfare, what he wants is results. If he knows that this particular S.A. has the interest of the state via his position, the Governor will perform. I am not coming to government to make money. I am comfortable. After government I will still go back to my usual business. One thing to me which is very paramount is for me to make heaven. I got married when I was not in government. I got married at the age of 26. I’m blessed with three kids and my wife is a medical practitioner. 

How will I make heaven without aligning myself with the scripture? The scripture said I should be honest with my people. If a proposal is N500,000 and I now tell the Governor that it is N500.000, he will see the need to support my proposal, not giving  a proposal of N10m when actually you will use N500,000 to execute it.

You are the S.A. on Entertainment, what is the Job of Imeh Bishop?
Imeh Bishop aka Okon Lagos is my brother and friend. Good enough, he is in Lagos already. He took me around like Mike Odiong did since I came into town. Okon Lagos is doing very well in terms of his own office. His own is Special Assistant to the Governor on Ethical, Attitudinal and Social Re-Orientation. We relate very well. He is one of my advisers. I constituted what we called ‘Entertainment Working Committee,’ I also have other advisers like Moses Armstrong. I’m not the only person that is S.A. to the Governor from the entertainment industry but I am the only person that is S.A. to the Governor on the Entertainment Industry. 

The Governor has entertainers at heart. He gave appointment to five great entertainers from Akwa Ibom entertainment industry. Ini Edo, is the Special Assistant to the Governor on Culture and Tourism; Okon Lagos is Special Assistant to the Governor on Ethics, Attitudinal and Social Orientation; Godfather, a gospel artiste is Special Assistant to the Governor on Project Monitoring, Moses Armstrong, a popular actor is Special Assistant to the Governor on Agriculture and my humble self. And they are all working well.

What do you hope to achieve at the end of your tenure?
I want to have a Tuface Idibia from Akwa Ibom State, a Harrysong, Davido etc. I want the Governor to give entertainers opportunity to stay and do their own businesses, although he gave us an office, I have my personal office not the one from the government. He gave us a bigger office knowing too well that entertainers are more in number so he gave us a conducive place to work but we need more. Like Oliver Twist, we are looking forward to the Governor to give us the Ibom Entertainment Village. If I can achieve that, I will be the happiest person because that is where we will meet all entertainers and equally generate revenue for government.

What you are saying is that the entertainment that Akwa Ibom will enjoy will be greater than that of Godswll Akpabio?
Yes. Senator Godswill Akpabio did his best. He is a great leader, a man I love with passion anyday. He is the one that gave entertainers the platform to grow today because had it been that Akpabio did not support my boss, I don’t think the possibility for me to be S.A. to the Governor today may not be there. Akpabio did well when he was governor and Udom would do far better than him.
Let me us this opportunity to plead with all entertainers to support our effort to help Akwa Ibom artistes to get to their stardom.

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