Source: nigeriafilms.com
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Gone are the days when movie stars live in penury. Emeka Ike, one of the few actors that have not only made name, but have also amassed wealth, is determined to remain rich. The secret is in what he called, 'knowing the you inside'. The father of two, who has choice property in Ogudu and other parts of Lagos State, tells Samuel Olatunji how he spends his money. Excerpts...
What do you do now?

I am into many things. Man is supposed to be a dreamer. At present, I am working on my wife's secondary school to be situated in Magodo. That is my next programme.

Why didn't you start a primary school before secondary school?

It is not necessary. It depends on the kind of education you want to offer. As we are bringing in APTECH, by the time you are leaving the school at SSS 3 you will be given WASSCE and APTECH certificates. That is our focus. We want to make the best of every child. We want to make each child fulfil his or her potential.

What do you think makes a man poor?

No man can rekindle hope for you if you have lost hope. You are the only one who has the power to turn your life around. If you are supposed to make an appointment, but you are in a room with a girl, that appointment will not come back. What makes a man poor is decision. The principle by which you live your life will determine if you will be rich or poor. When you make the right decisions, believe me, you will always make success. When you lie to people on a daily basis, you lie to them on Monday till Saturday, lie has become a way of life for you, then you'll find out that on Sunday you will be lying to yourself.

You are not going to be sure of yourself again because you are used to lying. You find out that you lack focus and will no longer see things from the perspective of give and take. So you'll find out that you are not faithful to yourself and your neighbour. Some people will lie to themselves and even to people around them.

But there are people who seem to be doing everything right, but they are not making money.

No, they are not doing everything right. Let me tell you this story. One day I received a call from a woman begging that she is in one SOS house and that they are about to push her out, and that she needs help. So I drove to where she was waiting for me at Magodo gate, and saw that she was really in pain. I asked what she has, like God asked Moses, and she said all she had was a phone. I then said; 'If I give you money and you begin to use this phone for business centre, will you do it? She said yes. I asked her to find a person to squat with, and I gave her N10,000 and she took the challenge. She started receiving and making calls near the gate and today she has rented her apartment and had even gone to collect her child from where she kept her. She is now looking for a shop so that her business can multiply and increase. Believe me, so many people have N10, 000 but they don't know how to use the money to recycle their lives. Today she doesn't need anybody's accommodation. People have to learn to do crucial things on their agenda. We should learn to attend to primary matters in our lives and not secondary.

What is the primary matter then?

The crucial thing about primary matter is unique to every individual. The crucial thing God gave to me is my talent. If I pursue my career as an engineer, may be I'll not be as big as this, may be I'll be one quiet engineer in one quiet office. But God has deposited a talent inside me. There is a hidden part we all need to harness, if you leave this job and start pursuing acting, you might never be found to be as good as Ramsey Noah. But God has given you a unique area of calling. So if you place yourself in a wrong place you might not be as prosperous as God has destined you to be.

So, there is a connection between talent and how much money one makes?

There is a connection between the you inside and how much you make; the you inside is the quality inside you. Everybody has a crop of greatness that can make him or her a millionaire.

How did you make your money?

I made my money through home video, I did not do any government contract and no big brother gave me anything. I got here by putting one and two together. Before I knew what was happening I became a hot selling face in home video and since when I became a selling face I had to let the business side of it strive. I said I could no longer take the small amount I used to take. I added to my demand and it became difficult but I faced it, soon after that people started paying. And after that I didn't take my money to buy cars to show everybody that I now have money. That is the problem a lot of Nigerians have; they want to make a point to the next neighbour forgetting what is inside of them. Like now, I'm investing so much in my wife's school inside Magodo, later when it becomes big; people will not realise that now is my sowing period. I have been channelling all the money I make into viable investments. So you have to be the one to challenge yourself not buy jeeps immediately you get the first one million in your hand and the next thing is you go and buy a jeep to tell your enemies that I've arrived. You'll soon burn the fuel in the car and would need money to buy more, which is when your eyes would be cleared. Then your enemies will come and laugh at you for not having enough money to fuel your car. There and then you will become the fool.

How will people who don't have enough save?

What you have is enough. Do you know that five naira is enough, and that if you remove N10 from N1 million, the money is no longer complete? I tell people about petty trading. It is not rash, and if you work at it you'll see that what you have in your hands is enough. As long as you are recycling the money through viable investment, it will start yielding more results. You have to be resourceful, you can start from your present level to be great.

So, everyone can be rich?

Everyone has the potential to be someone in life, we might not all have the big millions, but we can live a rewarding life. Everyman can make it.

What is your advice to those who are trying to make money?

Be as simple as possible. Discover yourself, what are your talents and potentials? What excites you the most in life? Then make the best of them. Don't waste opportunities, thinking that there will always be another time this might not come.

Is there a connection between staying married and the kind of money you make?

Yes, staying married keeps you focused, because there is someone you can't afford to disappoint at home. You can't afford to fail your son when he is sick or when his school fees is due, you can't afford to fail your wife so you have to be focused. You now have to be more accountable; you can't sleep out the way you used to. You are now more organised, you are now thinking of getting properties or other investment. So staying married has a lot of positive sides.

What is your new movie all about?

It is a fantastic story of two friends with a girl inbetween. It is a completely different story.

Why did it take you so long to produce another movie?

It is because of logistics. I'm an actor. I don't want to compete with producers. But once in a while you show samples for people to have ideas on how you can do your things.

Is your going into marketing a way of getting back at marketers that banned you?

No, no, this market is not even the marketers' market. The government is trying to take the market from the marketers, which is pitiable; I don't see them as enemies. Marketers are the people that made the industry what it is today. Anybody who is not giving glory to them is only being a bad Nigerian. These are the people that put their money where their mouths are. Other people just speak grammar, but the marketers are the ones funding it. What I want to do is structure myself in such a way that I will contribute my quota in marketing the movie industry in order for it to move forward.

So if you get the licence, how do you intend to market it?

I have my strategy. There is a bank I'm working with. I'm going to open an Emeka Ike Friendship Centre and if you are Emeka Ike friendly, then you can go and source for my films and other movies there.

That approach looks like that of a businessman?

I'm a businessman Sam. We are doing this to prevent South Africans from taking over our business.

If you think about the time you were embarrassed in commercial vehicles and now that you have cars and money to acquire more, how do you feel?

It is God and focus. Without God, there can't be a solid foundation.

How is your studio doing?

It is doing well. We have just taken delivery of new equipment and a new editor. The audio studio is doing great and our sound engineer is about the best in town.

How come you have been able to maintain a good home despite the burden of being an actor?

You have to be a real man. You have to know what it takes to run a home, and don't let your job take you away from your home.