Your Excellency Movie: What Doesn’t Kill You May Make You Think

Movies, Nollywood

I was reluctant about watching “Your Excellency” because of its cover picture. See, one of the worst Nigerian movies I have seen in the past two years is “Chief Daddy”, I am not a fan of “Jenifa’s Diary” and I have already said my mind about “My Siblings and I“. All these shows have one thing in common – Funke Akindele-Bello. She stars and directed “Your Excellency”. She stars alongside Akin Lewis whom I have always seen as the Chinwetalu Agu of Cable Nollywood and despite a redeeming act in Mnet’s “Jemeji” I still feared the worst. But I ended up seeing the movie.

What kind of movie is this?

This was my mood less than a quarter of an hour into the show. I saw Osas Ighodaro playing the role of Candy and her character reminded me of everything that is wrong with all the creations of Ms. Akindele. Everything is overdone, overdone to the extremest pole. Candy is the social media crazed wife of Kachi the music star played by Alexx Ekubo and the couple is involved in some crazy, intellect-sapping reality show. Then she realizes that she is pregnant and she drives everyone mad some more.

Then there is a useless scene with Falz and Beverly Osu in a private jet. Note to Falz: don’t let them put you in a box where you are either a semi-illiterate Yoruba man or a fake accent-speaking bloke. Don’t let them do this to you. There is also a crazy blogger and vlogger played by Toni Tones. There is Emma Oh My God with his stupid pastor performance, uninspiring, stale, and horrible that nearly wrecked “Wedding Party 1”. There is Kemi Lala Akindoju. There is Chigul. And Jenifa herself. Ridiculous, ridiculous, ridiculous, all of them. And can someone please tell me what Ini Dima-Okojie is doing in the movie? I believe even Ini wouldn’t be able to explain her role in “Your Excellency”.

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Comedy is not about ridiculous characters. It is about normal and not so normal people in ridiculous situations. It is more situational than behavioral. We are moving on to new things in Nollywood, this is why it is worrying that our best comedies are from the old Upper Iweka Productions. “Stupid” starring Nkem Owoh, Okey Bakassi, and Jide Kosoko, “Ukwa” starring Nkem Owoh and Patience Ozokwor, “Aki na Ukwa”, “Osuofia in London” and elsewhere. If you are going to build a comedic film on behaviors, then you have to hire seasoned comedians all through something Basketmouth and Kayode Peters did very well in Mnet’s “My Flatmates”. That is why one of the best performers of “Your Excellency” is Seyi Law. He is a natural and most suited for the madness that is the movie. Regular actors forced to misbehave will appear awkward. Except you are Akin Lewis. This takes me to the few things that worked in the movie.

Before then, I must add that this film can be divided into two parts. The earlier scenes when Chief Olalekan Ajadi is an unserious presidential aspirant, when Osas Igbodaro dominates the screen, when we are living on the pages of Instagram rather than watching a movie we came to see. This is the boring part. The second part which begins during the election debate night is the not-so-boring part and the one that made me think. Will come back to the thinking part but we still have to talk about Akin Lewis.

Akin Lewis carried Your Excellency on his shoulders. Alone

I think it was Winston Churchill the British Prime Minister during World War II who said “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few” over the defense of England by the outnumbered Royal Airforce during a German onslaught. This is the quote that comes to mind when I think of the role of Lewis Akin. Never was so much money invested by so many only to be saved by one man. Lewis Akin did not put one single foot wrong on the set of “Your Excellency”. His carriage, his carefreedom, his dance steps, his outrages, his one-liners, everything was hot. Of course, he wasn’t perfect and he had a few weaknesses but I will need more than 24 hours to think of one thing he did wrong.

That Donald Trump scene was poor but you can’t blame Lewis Akin and it was rather classy of him refusing to talk to a man who called our country shithole. The best scenes in the movie have Akin in them. The very best is when he says he will make the character of Deremi Akanlawon, a deputy minister of youth if he steps down that debate night then adds, “Shinkafi, nothing for you.” Claiming that he can make a good president because he survived polygamy made me laugh. Out loud. That scene where Shaffy Bello tries to mimic his dance step and fails badly is one of the top scenes.

This is not to say that there is no actor who could have played Ajadi like Akin did. But there are so few of them that I won’t waste precious time thinking about them. It is a shame, however, that Akin Lewis may never get the accolades this role deserves.

Your Excellency: The film made me think

Look at the character of Chief Ajadi and let me know if he is not 100% better than the fellow ruling us right now. Chief Olalekan Ajadi is fitter, smarter, more cosmopolitan, more thoughtful, with better intention, and more educated than the Major General. But the Major General won two elections one against a sitting president and it is a miracle that Chief Ajadi wins the election. And the film makes a young unmarried Nigerian with ideas the person to beat in a Nigerian election just less than a year when all our young candidates couldn’t muster enough votes to fill a local government area voters’ list. “Your Excellency” actually has two Southerners running neck in neck.

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In the real Nigerian situation, this can never be so. A northerner no matter how illiterate and no matter how unqualified must be a frontrunner. Despite the awful performance of this junta, the major parties will most likely field Northerners in 2023 and any party which fails to do so will feel disadvantaged. Social Media and public perception win the election for Ajadi but a sitting minister once tweeted that Nigerian politics is not by Social Media gragra and he spoke for the political class. They don’t rate Social Media nor the people’s opinion. They can easily buy votes or chase away voters will gunshots or write the results themselves. And the courts will confirm this.

“Your Excellency” is a dream of a better Nigeria and we can all watch the film and be hopeful that someday Nigerians will take back their country from political jobbers. Meanwhile, go get fuel before the filling station closes.

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