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AMAA has nothing to offer Nigeria –Ugbomah

By Abimbola Adelakun
Eddie Ugbomah
Eddie Ugbomah

A pioneer of the Nigerian film industry, Chief Eddie Ugbomah, has advised Nigerians not to expect anything positive from the African Movie Academy Awards. He said it was a mere gathering where people only eat, drink and talk with nothing coming out of it.

Speaking in Lagos on Friday, he took a swipe at the various film festivals being organised in different parts of the country, which have contributed nothing to the industry.

Denouncing the lack of coordination that has affected the various festivals, he said a collaborative effort would have resulted in a stronger synergy for the benefit of all concerned, rather than the duplication of efforts.

According to him, ”The organisers are in South Africa now, begging South Africans to attend the awards. It is a shame because they never beg us to attend theirs. Last year, 250 Nigerians applied for visas to go for the South African movie awards, but they gave only 100 people. Now, we have gone to beg them to attend our awards. It is shameful.”

He said, so far, about nine American actors had been brought to Nigeria on the platform of AMAA without seeking their assistance to improve the industry.

”They should have been made to do something for Nigeria. We keep bringing in foreign artistes, when are we going to take our own artistes abroad to promote them? The world is waiting for Nigeria,” he said.

Speaking on the Inspector-General of Police threat to vet movie scripts before he advised movie producers to ignore the call, saying that the police have not given the industry the needed support to warrant their being portrayed in good light.

He said, ”How do you expect me to show anything positive about the police in my film when they never give support? Write to them, tell them you want their assistance towards shooting a film and they will tell you to go and use dummy materials. If they give the necessary assistance, wouldn't they have been able to put some things straight? Teco Benson wanted to shoot a film with helicopters, they told him to pay N400,000 for a day. Tell me, how can he put them in a good light in his film that way?”

He said that after about 60 years of Cannes Film celebration, Nigeria had not entered into it once, a development he attributed to inferiority complex among Nigerian film producers.

In his words, ”What they don't know is that if you fail this year, you pick up yourself and do better next year but if you don't even make an effort at all, then that is where the problem is. This year, four Nigerian films are going in for the festival largely due to the efforts of Chief Adrian Igbinigie. They are Mirror of Beauty, Black Gold, Mission to Nowhere and Desert Warriors.”

He said that the country deserved a standard film village, where ideas and storylines could materialise into films without much stress. He pointed out that what currently obtained in the country was simply studios.

He said, ”A film village by virtue of its name is a village, where you walk in with an idea and walk out with a completed work in your hands. Even the TINAPA project is nothing. They just brought in equipment from abroad to inaugurate the place and impress Obasanjo. They returned the equipment after the inauguration .”

On piracy, he said it was a very complicated issue because even upcoming artistes sometimes gave their own CDs to the pirates to take advantage of their distribution network in order to give them instant popularity.

The Vice-President of the Association of Movie Producers, Mr Andy Williams, said lack of coordination in the industry was a big problem. He said as long as it remained, pirates would continue to take advantage of the chaos.

He regretted that the government did not recognise the potential in the industry until it was put on DSTV by a South African company.

”We have come so far in spite of the Nigerian government,” he said.