Nollywood: ‘No Amount is Worth Paying to kidnappers’

Pete Edochie
Pete Edochie
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The question of re-branding keeps re-occurring. To re-brand a country with hydra headed socio-economic, political paralysis, with comatose economy, inaccessible road network, epileptic power supply, corruption, crime, poverty, structural unemployment, dearth of social amenities and electoral flaws is a challenge as some citizens takes a wave of anti-social activities as means of livelihood CHINYERE OKOYE writes

“It's not a matter of where kidnapping is now common. The fact is that kidnapping is another evidence of the desperate situation in this country. Things are at standstill because government appears to be asleep,” Association of Movie Producers President, Mr Paul Obazele said. Obazele told us that when kidnapping started in the Niger Delta, it was mostly used as a protest against the non-development of the area even though that is where all our crude oil comes from. But the South East have now commercialised it and are using it to make profit. They no longer travel to their states as security is questionable and Nollywood celebrities now believe that anybody going to the South East is in trouble.

Kidnapping a hard-working actor like Osuofia and asking him and his family to pay them N15 million in ransom is sheer madness. Are they now saying that they are entitled to the money he has worked hard to make?

“That is why I say those kidnappers are completely unreasonable. Even if Osuofia has made a lot of money is that the reason why they should kidnap him? If they are looking for people to kidnap why don't they concentrate on these politicians that have been stealing our money and whose action is responsible for the economic hardship many of us are facing in this country?"

Unknown gunmen abducted Nkem Owoh, popularly known as Osuofia on November 10 on the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway. The kidnap comes barely three months after some unidentified gunmen abducted, but later released another popular actor and a Re-branding Nigeria Ambassador, Pete Edochie.

In spite of every thing, “It is a worrisome development that it is this time the federal government has been able to foster some level of peace and stability in the Niger Delta region that an artiste will be the victim of kidnapping. We do not know what it will degenerate to. He understands life and with his jokes, he will survive. This will keep everybody on his toes,” Fred Amata said.

Edochie's son condemned the action of the kidnappers, expressing shock at the development. “If the kidnappers have started looking at the filmmakers, it is a serious problem,” he lamented. An actress who pleaded anonymity said this is the best time for the Police and other security agents in the country to nab these criminal elements.

"We at AGN are very happy that Owoh has been released. We thank his family, especially his wife and all those that helped in securing his release. We also thank the Enugu State chapter of the AGN. I cannot comment on whether money was paid or not,” he said.
Zack Orji, former National President of the AGN, hailed Owoh's release, describing it as a plus for Nollywood and their teeming fans globally. Re-branding Nigeria will have to start from working on the brand itself and that is not by crafting a new logo because no amount of re-branding can sell a bad product.

"The impact of Nollywood is felt and appreciated. Nollywood project Nigeria's cultural life to the world. Nollywood remains one of Nigeria's major employers of labour, even for the physically challenged. "With the advent of Nollywood, Nigerians stopped going to see Indian films, Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili said in an interaction with the motion picture industry in Lagos.

The minister therefore sought the cooperation of the film industry to change the negative image the nation now has, arguing that Nigerians were responsible for the country's current bad image. "Negative perception about Nigeria is generated by Nigerians because we don't believe in ourselves," she charged.

"If nothing is done, the image we have as a country of 419-ers, where nothing works, failing leadership, it becomes a liability. The most systematic way is to re-brand, to tell our story and prevent others from telling it the way they want to tell it." She was therefore counting on the great spirit of volunteerism Nigerians always displayed in enlisting Nollywood for Nigeria's re-branding effort.

Akunyili argued that it was Nigeria's inability to tell its story properly that had affected it negatively and that it was the reason why Nigerian citizens often suffered in foreign lands. She said the fall of Apartheid in South Africa was due largely because of the financial sacrifices Nigerian citizens made as workers' salaries were deducted at source to help fight that evil regime.

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