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Movie Review: ‘4th Republic’ and the compelling message that there’s always poison in the water

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When you’ve lived your whole life believing in something, you’d be devastated if it turned out to not be true. This realisation brilliantly depicted the reality of a lot of Nigerians with Nigerian Politics in one of the most powerful scenes of 4th Republic, A movie directed by Ishaya Bako and produced by Kemi ‘Lala’ Akindoju. The movie adopts some sort of “medias res” at the beginning, starting with a testimony in court during an election tribunal, before taking us back to beginning to keep us expectant of the circumstances that would result in the said election tribunal.

In the contest to be the governor of Confluence state, Mabel King (Kate Henshaw) goes up against incumbent governor Idris Sani (Sani Muazu). Idris has the position of power and the bigger funding, especially considering his position as incumbent governor, but Mabel seems like the people’s choice, for whom public opinion and support has improved in the build-up to the election.

However, on election night, Mabel’s campaign manager Sikiru Ajala (Jide Attah) meets a group of corps members and police officers in a primary school, in Ikonu local government, tampering with the elections. But Sikiru’s arrival is followed by that of hoodlums, who lay waste to everyone around, include Sikiru, and burn the whole place to the ground. That violence makes the electoral commission cancel the votes in Ikonu, and Idris is declared the winner. Mabel, meanwhile, challenges the election results, and petitions a tribunal. From then on, we see the immoral thirst for power in politics. (cue in the Game of Thrones soundtrack).

4th Republic

4th Republic gives us the desperation and manipulation that comes with power. This is embodied when Idris and his aide, St. James (Bimbo Manuel), ask Danladi (Yakubu Mohammed), to get together with his old friends, Ike (Enyinna Nwigwe) and Bukky (Linda Ejiofor), who happen to work for Mabel, for information from regarding the tribunal. A hesitant Danladi is reminded that this what it takes to go into politics.

Amidst all these ethical discrepancies, Mabel stands out, a symbol of righteousness. We see that when she’s asked by her legal team to wheedle one of the tribunal justices to her side, and she emphatically shuts down that idea (even though it’s executed behind her back). We also see that when she refuses to push a few buttons to get her right hand man’s (Ike) brother off fraud charges.

Ike, meanwhile, sees his ethics and loyalty tested, when St. James hints at getting his brother off his criminal charges, and all he must do is turn his back on Mabel. But in the end, morals and belief trump temptation, and Ike accepts his brother’s fate, keeping his loyalty intact.

4th Republic

In the tribunal, Amina, a corps member, takes to the stand to give an account of what she witnessed during the events of the primary school in Ikonu. She talks of how a friend of hers, Lucky (Sifon Okoi), made a video of the night. But Lucky’s decision to blackmail St. James and Danladi doesn’t end so well, for him, or his mother.

Therefore, without sufficient evidence, Amina’s testimony is unconfirmed. But her appearance in court is followed by an attack on Mabel and her associates, but without fatal damage to the key players, highlighting Idris and his team’s desperation to put this issue to bed, however they can.

That’s one of the film’s flaws. It’s rather implausible for anyone involved in politics to be that foolhardy, particularly with the burden of proof not on them, and their opponents barely having enough evidence. The movie also goes out of its way to portray Danladi as incredibly naïve, especially unsound considering he is a law school graduate, and his father has ties with Idris.

But to focus on those would be missing the point of this movie. 4th Republic brilliantly showcases the battle of power and principles, and that fight between supremacy and sincerity isn’t necessarily between different parties.

One of the criticisms of Nollywood is the fact that its plotlines are always so straightforward and ‘happy endings’ are always guaranteed. This is too good to be true, and overused. 4th Republic emphatically breaks from that norm, and gives us something that genuinely mirrors real life.

4th Republic is a brilliant political drama which delivers solidly with impressive and well crafted storytelling. Director, Ishaya Bako also puts his all in this and it easily reflects in the attention to every little detail in the movie. Its also impressive to note that political analysts were consulted to ensure the OSIWA-backed (Open Society Initiative for West Africa) movie stayed true to the political and judicial processes.

4th Republic also has brilliant performances by all its actors, and from us at Sodas ‘N’ Popcorn HQ, it earns a Popcorn and Soda.

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