Chairman of the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Desmond Elliot is an interviewer’s delight. He certainly knows how to touch base with his constituents, who are no less excited and satisfied with his impact in the constituency. Students within the constituency who are daily conveyed to their schools under the free school bus scheme and the beneficiaries of his empowerment programmes give him the high-five in appreciation. In this interview, he delves into politics and also comments on other issues.
How has it been for you, transisting from Nollywood to politics?
It has been a blessing. I have had the support of people and prayers. I think it has been a blessing.
How have you been coping as a parliamentarian?
It has been and indeed very overwhelming but God’s grace will always give you the ability to handle the challenges that come along. So we have been coping; There are two ways, its either you are a representative and people don’t believe in you or you are a representative and people believe in you. So I believe that people have some sort of trust in me. You have to attend to everybody and you have to be nice because everybody is coming here with a burden. Nobody comes here and says come let’s go and play tennis or come let’s go and eat food. Everybody comes with a burden. I will give you an instance of few things I have done today (referring to the day of the interview).
Somebody came with a physical challenge and I paid N350,000 to get him a ticket to the United States. Don’t ask me where the money is come from, I honestly do not know. I just told my agent to write him the ticket. I’m thinking in my head where I’m I going to get the money because his visa will expire in August and to get a visa is not easy. It is not that we have the funds here but you can’t just see someone like that and not do something. You are helping someone’s future.
I have been here for a couple of hours and lots of people leave your office smiling. What influences your attitude towards people?
I think it is a combination of God and exposure. Because when you go to other countries, that’s how you see it. You go abroad you see how people attend to you. Even when they want to reject your visa application, they are smiling. Again, its an offshoot of the fact that we face a very difficult time and a lot of people have problems and when they know there’s somebody who can easily fix their problems it gives them a sort of happiness. Let’s say about 40 people that came in here today, I probably could answer maybe 25, but to the other 15 I was unable to provide the desired answer. But I didn’t just frown and say no. I gave suggestions and gave indications of how I could come in later. My prayer is, anybody that comes into my office, when the person goes out of my office, the person has to go with something. I’m not saying financial here but leaving with some form of gratitude that I spoke with someone that could at least influence his life. For me, that is the essence of being a representative. Again, we unfortunately fall in a country where people think you earn heaven and earth and you should do this and that. You have to take time and explain that you don’t have that kind of money but you tell that person what you can do to help some other way. This political thing has made me know that there is God. I am telling you, you cannot but believe God in this kind of system.
How do you mean?
Oh my God; when people are beefing or hitting you, there is God. When there is no money to do certain things but you know that you have to do it, there is God. When you are disturbed because a particular group feels that you have not come to give them some form of recognition, there is God. They just need to divide you at every point in time.
What has been your impact in your constituency?
I have never been so proud to beat my chest but today, I’m very proud. Today, I’m very proud of my achievements. That God has been really faithful. I have done the little empowerment that I can. I prefer community work and I’m very honoured to be given the opportunity to do community works. Community works like the ‘Love Garden’ which is a field. I have been able to do some renovation there. I have been able to facilitate the installation of transformers for electricity in some areas. I have been able to help in computer training, I have offered free transportation for school children in the constituency. I still need more buses, anyway. I organise children’s programmes, cancer awareness programme, I have been able to do jobs to the best of my ability. I have been able to drive some sense of worth and also given dignity to my party.
I can beat my chest now. This is three years going and I can say this is what I have given.
I believe I’m going in the right path. I’m not there yet but I know I’m on the right path. I get good advice from senior people that have been vast in political terrain that love me because its not all that love you but those that you know that love you, you gladly take some little, little advice from them. The most recent one is providing an injector sub-station in Surulere and that is supposed to improve the distribution of electricity to Surulere, Coker Aguda and Itire/Ikate. We were able to conclude that last week. It is going to be located at Randle. I wrote that on my Instagram page today, thanking God, just being very proud of the fact that once you remain focused God will always help you.
2019 is around the corner, are you re-contesting?
Yes I am. I’m running for re-election and I want to be judged based on the little I have been able to do or the commitments I have been able to give to my constituency and Nigeria.
Are you missing Nollywood?
(Laughs) Why are you asking? But you saw the owner of IrokoTv when she came in. What am I missing? Maybe being on set all the time. But then, sometimes when we are on recess, I go to set to see what is going on. I still have the same relationship with my Nollywood friends. I don’t consider myself as being away from Nollywood, it is not possible. It is an industry that has blessed me so much, so why will I go away from it.
For the past three years that you’ve been a legislator, have you done any movie?
No but my production company has been busy.
You have a company?
Yes, of course. Denzelliot, We always issue films. I always go and watch or supervise after plenary sitting. I don’t do clubs, so that’s my own club.
From what I observed while waiting for the interview, you are very, very busy. How much time do you have for your family?
I go home to sleep. I see my children. Before I leave home every morning, I say thank you God.
What lesson has life taught you as a person?
Hmmm; that is very deep. Life is not forever, touch as many lives as possible. That is what can count and sustain you, the number of lives you touch is what can sustain you as far as I’m concerned.