Monday, 15 July 2013

Akpabio's N50m Gift Tears Nollywood Apart

Nollywood is never tired of dishing out real life 'movies' when it comes to the issue of sharing the 'national cake'. If members of the Actors' Guild of Nigeria (AGN) are not fighting today, maybe some producers would be somewhere arguing about which group truly represents the interest of filmmakers in Nigeria.

While the industry is yet to settle the differences caused by President Jonathan's N3 billion intervention fund, another big fight might be presently rearing its ugly head.

At the Presidential Dinner held for Nollywood stakeholders in March 2013, Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa-Ibom State promised the industry the sum of N50 million, which he recently redeemed.

At the presentation done some days ago, the head of Association of Movie Producers (AMP) led other guilds in the motion picture world to the cheque presentation ceremony. Yakubu Abubakar (AGN Secretary), Andy Amenechi (DGN President), Stephanie Okereke-Linus (actress) and others, were present at the occasion.

However, days after the cheque was presented, there are rumour that some members of the film industry are at loggerheads over the sharing formula for the largesse. A source in the industry, who spoke with, alleged that there are plans to shut out some people out of the largesse.

“You see, there is a ploy by few people in the industry to corner this money given to the whole industry by Governor Akpabio,” the source alleged. "The money was given to everybody in the movie industry, but we will resist any attempt to play 'Maradona' to the N50 million,” the source added.

However, Zik Zulu, who led Nollywood to receive the cheque from the governor told that it is expected for some people to be making false speculations about the money. “This is the first time this kind of a thing is happening in the industry, it is expected to have different rumours going about on the matter,” Zulu said when contacted on phone.

He also added that, “the money would be used for what we were told to use it for.” When asked what the money was meant for, the AMP boss said, “it is meant for award for excellence in the name of President Jonathan like a 'Goodluck Jonathan award for excellence in filmmaking' and all that. That is what we would use it for.”

Continuing, Zulu said, “we would look at the existing awards in the industry or set up a completely new one jointly agreed by all the bodies in the industry.” He also revealed that, “we are yet to get the money but we will surely get it because it has been approved by the Governor. What we had was the formal presentation.”

In the same vein, the Secretary of AGN, Abubakar Yakubu, told that no decision has been reached yet by the stakeholders as to the sharing formula for the money and wondered why some people would be causing trouble over the matter.

He told us when contacted on phone that at the first meeting held by the stakeholders in the movie industry, deliberations were only made on the matter. He corroborated Zulu's stand that the money would be used for the purpose it was given out for adding that, “we would also look at endowment for the various members of Nollywood guilds.”

Akpabio presenting sourvenir to Mr Zik Zulu Okafor, Natinal President, Association of Movie Producers during a courtesy call at the Governor's Office, Uyo