By AMARACHI CHUKWUMA
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has joined other Nigerians in mourning veteran Nollywood actor, Justus Esiri whom he described as an epitome of commitment, excellence and creativity. President Jonathan reiterated his belief that Nollywood actors had carved a positive image for Nigeria in the eyes of the international community, with the late Esiri, a Member of the Order of the Niger (MON), having contributed in no small measure to the creation and sustenance of that image.
President Jonathan believed that the Nigerian movie industry and the country as a whole would miss the popular actor, who came to national limelight with his acclaimed performance in the popular television series, “Village Headmaster,” and other movies. The president extended sincere commiserations to the Esiri family, the government and people of Delta State and all fans of the revered actor. President Jonathan also condoled with the Nollywood Family on the passage of a notable member, mentor, pioneer and inspiring actor, and enjoined the younger members to keep Justus Esiri’s legacy alive by promoting higher standards in their movies. He prayed God Almighty would grant the soul of the departed actor, peaceful repose.
Also mourning Eziri, Mr. Medunoye Folorunso, a family friend said Justus Eziri was an icon and a friend he would never forget. He prayed God to grant the family of the departed soul the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. While Chief Lucky Emone, Esiri’s kinsman said Eziri was an enigma and a worthy ambassador to the entertainment industry, his state and Nigeria as a whole. His word: “Umuaghwu Abraka Kingdom has lost one of her best, a bridge builder and a good leader, known for fairness, truth and justice.” Late Esiri was a known man in his neighbourhood and this was not only because he was a popular figure, but also that he was a free man. Even the Okada men told Daily Sun that he was always taking part in any exercise that required a communal effort.
Commenting on Esiri’s contribution to the entertainment industry, veteran Nollywood film producer, Mr. Francis Kaneibi Onwuchi, said: “Justus Esiri, an icon and a Nollywood veteran who lived for 70 years passed on on Tuesday February 19, understandably, this came as a shocking news to some of us close to him, as we were unaware of his health challenges. It is somewhat devastating; as he was one of those elders we usually count on when there are issues to be resolved amongst us. In addition, this just brings to mind that we all must strive at all times to live our lives to the fullest as he did. We definitely would have wished that he lived a few years longer, but at 70, he had done his bit.
“Personally, I related closely with him professionally. Our paths crossed sometime in 1993/94. I was associate producer of the film, “When Flowers Turn Black…” He was one of the leading male artists and from then we shared a lot, even to other productions we participated in. I also gained from his wealth of wisdom during the days of ‘Conference of Motion Picture Practitioners (CMPP),’ an association we all formed to intervene and serve to advocate for the optimum development of Nollywood.
I was assist. secretary general, while he was the president. Uncle J as I fondly called him will never spare me at any meeting, even up till a few weeks ago. We had great times together as fellow actors on the motivational Christian soap, “Heavensgate” currently running on Nigerian televisions. He tried unsuccessfully to make me play golf with him, but I preferred my lawn tennis. We will miss him dearly.”