Nollywood at 20 is supposed to be a moment of retrospection, celebration, and a showcase of achievements of the Nigerian motion picture industry in the last two decades. But with the development of things, the two-decade milestones might turn into legal combat and mudslinging, as the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) and Peace Ayam Osigwe set to hold two different events amidst exchange of vile correspondences.
Peace Ayam Osigwe had conceived an idea to celebrate Nollywood at 20 with a dinner, coffee table, symposium and the likes, long before Ibinabo Fiberesima emerged as the president of AGN. Peace, we learnt drafted Ibinabo into the planning committee so as to carry the AGN along. She had commissioned people to write the coffee book, conducted interviews and gotten the support of the Federal Government, and was in talks with several corporate organizations.
She was on the verge of having a photo shoot for the book, when Ibinabo pulled out saying the guild should be at the fore-front of planning, not Peace Osigwe. Ibinabo’s action was prompted by heads of other guilds who felt Peace was running a one-man show, and planning to use the industry’s platform to amass wealth for herself. The guild promptly put together the committee with Zik Zulu Okafor playing a pivotal role and serving as a rallying point for other guilds. Zik Zulu is the president of Association of Motion Picture Practitioners (AMP).
A letter signed by Zik Zulu was sent to Peace instructing her to discontinue her planned celebration and come join hands with the guild in planning the event. Peace, we learnt, felt insulted with the choice of words from the letter, and fired back threatening to sue the guild. It was only plea from some stakeholders that prevented the CEO of Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) from carrying out her threat. She has, however, continued the planning for the event and publication of the book on the movie industry. Meanwhile, the two camps are at the moment working at getting sizeable support for their projects. Zik Zulu has secured the support of the veterans with the influence of his position as president of AMP.
Those who saw beyond the glamour of Ibinabo’s birthday held recently knew the gathering of A-list actors and actresses at the event was a political statement to show Peace that she (Ibinabo) is the boss and in-charge. In a chance meeting with our correspondent, at the premises of NTA, Ibinabo said that what is going on isn’t war as we described it, but a unification move to put an end to individual power bloc in the industry. “We don’t want this thing to be done individually anymore. We want it at association level. This event is something that has been on ground since the time of Segun Arinze and I learnt Peace was a part of it.”
However, the people in Peace’s camp say the association only wanted to usurp Peace’s idea, as she was the one who came up with the idea and brought some of them in as members of the planning committee. According to a close source, anybody who has a stake in the industry can celebrate the industry. Zik Zulu Okafor, the man that has been accused of being at the forefront of AGN’s battle, said he has no personal issue against Peace. “Peace is not my interest. My interest is bringing people from around the world to come and see Nollywood and take Nollywood to the world. This is what we want to do, no individual can scuttle it.”
He promised that the event will happen later this year. However, another source said the idea didn’t belong to either of the parties. “It actually belongs to Okechukwu Ogujiofor, the man that produced and directed Living in Bondage, the movie widely acclaimed to have given birth to Nollywood. The guild approached him and begged him to let go of the idea so that it can be done collectively. He did after the guild promised to celebrate him and adopt him to hall of fame.”
Now that a definite moment in the industry is turning messy, will the world witness the phenomenon called Nollywood or a free-for-all by the stakeholders?