We can’t save banned artistes – Remy Ohajianya, leader of actors in Lagos
Remy Chukwuemeka Ohajianya is the Executive Chairman, Actors Guild of Nigeria, (AGN) Lagos Chapter. Having traversed the length and breadth of the Nigerian movie industry, as an artiste and administrator, Ohajianya understands what it takes to lead a special breed of professsionals like actors.
The AGN boss who has been a member of the executive since its inception speaks on how he runs Lagos AGN, challenges, temptations actors and pension scheme:
I still remain the same old person, Chief Remy Chukwuemeka Ohajianya, the Executive Chairman of Actors Guilds of Nigeria, Lagos Chapter. I see myself as a leader and an administrator. I have not changed. I am the only person from the interim administration to enjoy two terms in office.
My first role
At the time I came into the movie industry, I was given minor roles. My first role was in the film entitled Rattle Snake. But Rattle Snake went a long way in projecting my image. My person and my character in the movie was spelt out in my role as Papa Peter. Another movie that helped my acting career was Isakabba and Ebube.
My whole life is dedicated to acting and administration of the movie industry. I have gone into different areas of endeavour. I started as a teacher, worked in the private sector; I even learnt spare parts business. Having been a part time actor when I was in the North, I told myself that I truly belong to the video sector and not spare parts business.
Basically, I went beyond secondary school. I don't want to speak much on that because, I don't want to sound as if I am bragging when I am aware that there are many people who are more educated yet they have not found their feet in the society asking me to speak about my educational attainment is of no use. I won't say anything about it until there is a need for it.
Nobody is financially comfortable in Nigeria now because government has not laid the structures that can make an average Nigerian comfortable. But in all these, I am not lagging behind. I'm giving glory and thanks to God who has made it possible for me to be able to feed my family and meet up with other needs. So, for this, I can say that I thank God immensely though I'm not a millionaire.
My suggestions are part of what we have started discussing with government. We thank God through the Minister for Information and National Orientation, Chief Chukwuemeka Chikelu, who have listened to us and have called series of meetings on the way forward for the movie industry in Nigeria.
Nigeria movie industry is rated third in the world. Government is now trying to make policies that could enhance the growth and development of movie making in Nigeria. The moment the policies are in place, it will now energize the system; reduce or cut down piracy in Nigeria. This is imperative so that investors can have a good profit on their investments and the actors too will receive better pay.
Ban on actors
Movie marketers have not banned actors, rather, they have withdrawn their patronage of the artistes. Actually the problem would have been addressed from the stable of the Actors Guild of Nigeria.
But at a meeting with some of them, it was found out that the people concerned are not financial members of the Lagos State AGN, which they claim. After the meeting, a letter was raised by me as regards the instructions given by the National President and Presisent Board of Trustees to them. Individual letters have been written individually and text messages sent asking them to come to the office and pick their letters. The letter was just to inform them about their financial commitments to the Guild.
Many of them have responded except Nkem Owoh who was said to have travelled out of the country before the letters were written. Among them, it was Stella Damascus who sent her late husband's driver to pick her letter and paid her own through the driver.
Someone like Omotola Jalade called me on phone and told me why she would not pay the arrears of association dues. According to her, "People will now see it that, if something or such a thing had not happened, she would not have paid her debt." Then I said okay, nobody will fight your fight. So, AGN cannot act on behalf of these people when they themselves are not fully committed to the day-to-day activities of the guild.
Appearance in movies
There is no basic reason for not appearing in many movies recently. It is just that people don't understand the trend of the movie industry. This job comes as a result of when you are chosen for a particular role and you can see that, there are so many people chasing a few jobs in the industry. It is only if the sky is your limit and your luck shines better than the other people, they will choose you for a role. Again, Lagos producers hardly give jobs. May be it is because I am a leader in Lagos. I was astonished when some directors and producers told me that if they give me a job now that I would not have the time to do it because I am an official of AGN.
Biggest problem in Nollywod
There is no unity, no understanding among the stakeholders. everybody wants to show that he/she is big. I have made myself available to every Tom, Dick and Harry. I run an open administration.
Having started as an official of the interim administration to the present, I have been able to identify the lapses of my administration in the first term owing to the unseriousness of some of the officials. I saw the interim period and my first term in office as an opprtunity to test run my administrative capabilities. I want to use this tenure to consolidate on the foundation we have started laying. Due to inability of the financial secretary to carry out his duty effectively in the past, we don't have such records and it doesn't tell good of any organisation that wants to prosper or grow. Since the current financial secretary came into office and start performing accordingly, the workload has reduced. We are looking forward to linking up with international bodies involved in film making.
Coping with indescent dressing
I am here to serve. I have mentioned it earlier that I run an open door administration. I just see everybody that comes here as coming to seek one information or the other. Some of those who come here half naked, I do scold. So, I am not carried away by the beautiful figures I see around here.
Given the opportunity, I will build houses for the poor. But if you are poor and at the same time dirty, you will not stay in my house because I hate filthiness. Poverty does not make someone dirty.
Actors never grow old
Actors never grow old. The show gets on more and more when you are older. That is why actors are not found among pensioners. You continue working as long as you are breathing and energetic enough to do that.