For the Best of Nollywood Awards, changing its venue from Umuaiha, the Abia State capital to Aba, less than 48 hours to the show could not take the shine off the awards proper or debar movie stars and filmmakers from enjoying their day in the sun.

Though, the change in location ensured that the ceremony started hours after schedule, there was no gainsaying that from the moment guests started making their way into the Eldorado Events Centre, Aba, a palpable air of expectation and excitement hung thickly in the air.

Dressed in a floral shirt made in his beloved Aba, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu was one of the earliest arrivals at the event. And he took time on the red carpet backslapping and hugging the guests that milled round him. Without further ado, Segun Arinze, the artistic director for BON Awards, signaled the commencement of the event and introduced Okey Bakassi as host.

Curiously, Mercy Aigbe, who was announced as co-host, failed to show up. Aigbe’s no-show might have been due to the late realisation that she couldn’t host a show of such magnitude despite initially agreeing to it.

“When we approached her to host the event, she gladly and graciously accepted and we got a costumier to make her clothes. She even went for fittings and all only for her to stop taking the executive producer’s phone calls two days to the event,” a source disclosed.

However, Okey Bakassi held forth perfectly and professionally and kept the show in perspective while ensuring there was no dull moment all through.

Homegrown rapper, Ruffcoin, gave the audience a foretaste of what was to come with his performance that got the governor singing and clapping along while comedian, Funnybone took the event to a different level. Rapper cum singer, Skales closed the event with a pulsating performance that had everybody on their feet.

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For filmmaker, Fidelis Duker, who incidentally started his career in Nollywood from Pound Road, Aba, his Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Governor Ikpeazu is instructive.

He said: “I remember with nostalgia that my first film titled Skeleton (in Igbo Language) produced 23 years ago and how I went to the popular Pound Road, Aba searching for a distribution deal. However, fast forward 23 years later, I return to Aba to be honoured with a special recognition award for my contribution to the development and growth of Nollywood.”

Duker dedicated the award to his late mum who raised the initial N3, 000 he needed then to commence his foray into the make-believe world.

But the biggest winner of the night was Something Wicked, which won in six out of the 13 categories. It won awards for Movie with the Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (English), Best Supporting Actress (English), Movie of the Year, Director of the Year, and Best Kiss in a Movie.

The producer, Okey Uzoeshi, also a fast rising actor, said: “Honestly speaking, I have basically been in shock. It’s hard to believe that my first project could do all this. Thank God and everyone who has supported this journey. It can only get better.” The best actor gong went to Alex Ekubo while Judith Audu won in the best actress category for her self-produced movie, Just not Married, which got multiple nominations. Toyin Aimaku and Yomi Fabiyi won the best actor (male and Female) Yoruba for their roles in Fabiyi’s Metomi.

In his short speech, Governor Ikpeazu lauded the organisers for the initiative, reiterating once again the global appeal and importance of Nollywood while admonishing practitioners to ensure that their messages should be more positive.

According to the Head of Jury, Niran Adedokun, the Best of Nollywood Awards, now in its eight year specifically aims at promoting the Nigerian cultural essence in movie making.