Ugbomah, Ejiro, Paimo, Shehu make national honours list

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The four distinguished filmmakers listed for the 2005 National Honours have been lauded by the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) for having done well to deserve the honour. They include, Chief Eddie Ugbomah, Mr Brendan Shehu, Chief Lere Paimo and Mr. Zeb Ejiro.

A release signed by Mr. Emmanuel Okezie, head public Affair of the NFC, stated that these distinguished Nigerians, have, through their works, administrative acumen and perseverance carved a niche for the Nigerian cinema and thus express gratitude to the Federal Government for the gesture which express due recognition of the Nigerian Motion Picture practitioner.

Mr. Brendan Shehu had served as managing director of the NFC for 14 years, during which time the colour film processing laboratory and sound dubbing studious were installed in Jos. He has to his record, the direction of over 40 documentary films among which are: Drug Abuse, The soldier. Labour Creates wealth and a feather film entitled: “Kulba Na Barma (Blaming the Innocent). Recently, Mr Shehu won the distinguished stakeholders award at the 2nd Abuja International film Festival.

Chief Lere Paimo, a veteran actor whose active role in the Yoruba film industry transited the era of cinema to the present home video business, is also on the leadership of the Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (ANTP). A protage of late Duro Ladipo he has to his credit many stage plays and feature films such as Ogbori Elemosho, Agbekoya Ajaka Ekun and Ogun Lakaiye. He was in 1964 among the Duro Ladipo team that attended the Berlin Film Festival and the 1965 London Film Festival Chief Paimo set up his theatre group in 1973.

For Chief Eddie Ugbomah, a veteran filmmaker, he would always be remembered by such films as Dr Oyenusi Death of the Black President, The Mask, Tori Ade, Black Gold, America or I Die etc. Ugbomah was one time chairman, Board of Directors of Nigerian Film Corporation. He saw to the establishment of the colour film-processing Laboratory in Jos. Popular producer/director, Zeb Ejiro has made remarkable impact through television soaps and home videos. Trained by the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Ejiro has to his credit such unforgettable soaps like Ripples, Mega Fortune, Candle Light, Broad Street, Sweet and Sour etc, and many hit videos like Domitilla, The President Must Not Die, Tears in Harlem and Extreme Measures among others.

Speaking on what it feels like to receive the OON honour, Chief Eddie Ugboma says “It's an honour long deserved but feels great that it came in his lifetime while reflecting on his kind of movies.

“Most of my movies have been statement movies. Talk of the Death of The Black President; I had warned through my film in 1976 that crime does not pay. Look at it today then, I did oil doom in 1979, where are we today? I did The Boy is Good, Four-One-Nine where are we today? So, most of my films are geared towards a lot of research and they make a lot of statements.”

He said, Dr Oyenusi a film done on one of the most notorious armed robber in Nigeria was done out of personal experience and encounter with the criminal, but had to be backed up by personal researches carried out about the robber. He talks about his on-going effort at another movie which he tailored towards the Aba women riot.

“This is a 1929 story. How women fought for this nation. So, you see, I have put in so much. I thank the government for the honour. At least it is better late than never. I am happy they didn't wait till I die to give me post humous honours”. Chief Ugboma has been variously described as a radical and stubborn personality in the film industry. To what extent does he think that this position has benefited him. He made bold to say: “I am a father of fourteen children with nine graduates. I own my house in Lagos. I own my house in my town, Delta State. I own my flat in Washington DC. So I am very happy for what I achieved from the industry. Thank God that I have not used my name to cheat or steal money but I am a very happy man, so let's say my stubbornness or radicalism is paying off.”

In his response, Mr. Zeb Ejiro who equally claims that he was not surprised that he was so honored, described himself as a determined person and a go-getten. He recollected that many of his colleagues with whom he started the film business had fallen by the way side because of one problem or another.

“I believe that in every thing you do in life, you have the ups and the downs and each downs that you overcome is expected to shoot you up. I have done this for many years, I am not trying to blow my trumpet, but I will like to say that more actors have passed through my h ands than any producer in this country. I have more soap Opera on television than any other producers in this country. I have trained more directors and, recently, too, I have established a film school to train moviemakers. I have been around for so long. I have contributed, trained and imparted and I think all these put together suggest that some people somewhere are watching and have decided to honour me and I really appreciate it because, a lot of things that I used to do I can't do them no more and then this is putting more responsibilities on me because I have to work more”.

Does he think that the honour is long overdue? “I wouldn't say it is long overdue because I don't see myself as the best in the movie industry. But I can say that I am one of the best. There are still people out there.