Ramsey Nouah, Alexx Ekubo and Annie Idibia in Power of 1

“Power of 1” is not just a movie, it’s a social cause

2018 has to go down in history as the year of movies addressing social issues. Izu Ojukwu’s “Power of 1,” “Up North” and “Lionheart” all told stories that matter.

For “Power of 1”, the director of “76,” Izu Ojukwu, teamed up with Efe Omorogbe of Buckwyld Media. Omorogebe is the executive. And the result of the collaboration is a drama that shows how one man can lead a movement to cause societal change.

Izu Ojukwu’s “Power of 1” is not an original idea. Like his period piece, “76,” Ojukwu draws inspiration from historical events. The cancellation of Innocent Idibia’s (2Baba) planned political protest in 2017, the burning of Fela’s home, the Kalakuta Republic, in 1977 and a motivational video “Lead India – The Tree” are influences.

Lead India – The Tree

Alexx Ekubo plays Justin Adah, known by his stage name Lejit. Lejit finds the situation in the country frustrating. So, he responds to an Instagram call to join the “Nigeria Before Everything” protest. For undisclosed reasons, the conveners abandon the protest. But against the advise of his management team, Justin insists on carrying on as “One Voice Naija.”

“One Voice Naija” threatens everything dear to Lejit including his family and endorsement deal with telecommunications company, Flight Mobile. But Lejit refuses to back down until the protest threatens the security of the very people whose voice he is trying to amplify.

Corruption at the micro-level is also a big element of the plot line. It is an impressive take as most screenwriters would rather focus only on high level corruption. Kufre’s (Jibola Dabo) mechanic substantially illustrates the micro-level corruption. And it comes together with the main idea of the film.

Ekubo in a serious lead role such as this is a welcome move. Lejit’s management team – Edafe (Ramsey Nouah), Kufre (Dabo) and Ope (Michelle Dede) also pull their weight. Dede as the fearless Ope is one of her most impressive performances in recent times. Ope shows so much bravado that her colleagues nickname her “Aluta” – activist.

Speaking of fear, it is Annie Idibia who lets us down. It is possible that Annie was cast as Lejit’s wife, Vera, because she experienced firsthand 2Baba’s planned protest. The script must have demanded her to show fear but instead she’s sad for most of the movie. As a result, she fails to appeal to our emotions except for her speech at the women’s conference. Bimbo Manuel’s demeanor makes him a perfect fit for his role. He plays Matthew Jang the amiable police commissioner. Jang is also the voice of reason. And Elvina Ibru’s stint as the first lady is brilliant.

Several other Nigerian entertainers lend support to the cause. Ik Osakioduwa, Naeto C, Okey Bakassi, Olisa Adibua and Steve Onu (aka Yaw) make cameos. Given our society’s low moral standards, it’s understandable.

Ojukwu complements the very moving dialogue with voiceovers and music. The director uses music to create the context for the film. 2Baba, Sound Sultan and Ekubo’s in an outstanding studio session record a “4 Instance” remix that is worthy of a release. Ojukwu also used music to establish transition from safety to enemy territory. And Timi Dakolo’s “Great Nation” is perfect for the movie ending. It reaches deep into your heart and causes you to reflect on the change you can be.

However the highlight of the concluding scene is the little boy with a sore foot. He has no slippers yet runs after a bus to give another his slipper. The boy embodies Babbie Mason’s “Each One Reach One” but in the secular sense.

Ojukwu’s “Power of 1” is compelling. Yet, he does not pay attention to props and production design – the very elements which made ’76 widely acclaimed. Additionally, there are obvious plot holes. On the night Edafe meets with the governor (Jide Kosoko), he leaves home in his pyjamas – a white shirt on stripped trousers. But returns in a black shirt. It is also highly implausible that a terrified Vera – who did not know her husband’s whereabouts – would leave the door unlocked after midnight. Who opens a potential letter bomb with her children in the living room? And how does Koye (Degri Jemeaji-Emmanuel) suddenly show-up for Kufre at the mechanic’s workshop?

Preparations for the protest also unduly prolong the movie. And they come with inconsistencies too. It is a Saturday and two days to the protest when Arinola (Padita Agu) tells Edafe that the stadium permit isn’t ready. Night and day pass. Lejit and his team meet with Jang and it is still Saturday. In the same scene, Lejit makes a contradictory statement when he says, it’s ‘… 16 hours to the event.’

“Power of 1” is modest and does not pretend to be something else. It is however the type of movie every Nigerian should see because of its moral lessons. And we need to embrace more movies like it. “Power of 1” opened in cinemas on 28 December. It is showing between noon and 5.30pm but at very limited screens. That is a pity because most of its audience would either be at work or commuting.

Power of 1 trailer

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About the author

A lover of the arts who sees film and television through the eyes of the Nigerian viewer.