by Anike Jacobs
The ongoing controversy revolving around the Best of Nollywood (BON)’ awards which held on Thursday, 16 October, is far from over as Nollywood practitioners share with us their side of the story.
The practitioners are not only angry with host Governor Rotimi Amaechi for calling them products of circumstances, adding that many of them are in the acting scene because they couldn’t find other jobs, but they are also unhappy at the ‘mismanagement’ of the event.
Movie producer Elvis Chuks, who spoke to YNaija said; “The first issue is that they bought economy tickets for all the celebrities expecting us to sit with people who are our fans in economy class, how else can you belittle actors. We got to Port Harcourt, and they brought a luxury bus to carry us, imagine. When we got to the hotel they wanted us to stay in, the hotel was nothing to write home about, a hotel that still uses key and padlock in this 2014 age we are in.”
“When we got to the Government House, they asked us to alight at the gate and walk to the venue; everybody there walked to the venue, when we got to the hall, not a drop of water was on the table for everyone including Mama G, Liz Benson, Kenneth Okonkwo, Bob Manuel and others. As if that was not enough, the governor on mounting the stage was ‘Nollywood is a product of Necessity.’ Dickson Iroegbu, who works with the presidency sat beside me and he shouted ‘Jesus.’ We were all shocked. He didn’t stop there, he further said we are in the industry because we have no jobs. Come on, we worked hard to get to where we are and there is dignity in labour, he has no right to shame us like that,” Chuks added.
Confirming Chuks’ account, veteran actress, Patience Ozokwor popularly known as Mama G exclusively told us; “It is true, Rotimi Amaechi said it, he mocked Nollywood. I was there. That’s how he feels like us. It wasn’t just Amaechi, the whole event itself was a flop. It’s not a pleasant event at all and we were not entertained at the event and we really walked. The organizers said they don’t serve drinks and food at such events but we were seated for hours and we were not even given water.”
“One of my colleagues needed water, he was almost dehydrating. I have no issues against whoever said what but they should have given us at least water. It was okay, at least we know what Rotimi thinks of the so-called Nollywood he claims he is hosting, we are forging ahead, it was an experience but we are moving on.”
Another Nollywood practitioner, Dickson Iroegbu said, “It was called the Best of Nollywood (BON) 2014 awards, a night set aside to celebrate the truly made in Nigeria global brand but alas; it was actually a satirical arrangement ridiculously crafted by Rotimi Amaechi. I was there when he mounted the stage to insult us to our faces. I was there when he declared he joined politics just to enrich his pocket; and that the much roguish wealth he’s acquired is enough to guarantee a minimum of five hundred thousand naira favorite delicious pot of soup from his wife’s kitchen monthly. I was there!”
“It was an embarrassment to me as a Nollywood practitioner. Rotimi disgraced himself because he declared there on stage that he joined politics to make money. We are not into shady business, we worked to achieve all we have achieved in Nollywood. The event wasn’t pleasant, it had no content, there were no razz mattazz associated with shows like this. I feel everything was done to rubbish Nollywood. That Governor Rotimi is angry with GEJ doesn’t mean he rubbish us for associating with GEJ, moreover GEJ empowers us. We were not well treated at all. Bob Manuel, Okey Bakassi, Kenneth Okonkwo, Fred and Ruke Amaka can bear me witness.”
Movie producer, Emem Isong, who was one of the awardees, chose to sit on the fence. She said, “I don’t want to involve myself in these controversy, I went and I am back and I was Okay and comfortable”
Veteran actress Liz Benson cum evangelist, who was won of those given an honorary/special recognition award had this to say: “Well, we should not feel insulted by what he said. The Bible says whatever your hand findeth to do, do it well. It is not about what people what to say, don’t look at what men say, but what you know and what God says, whatever your hand findeth doing, do it well. It is the grace of God that has me brought me far”
Reacting to the report, the organizer of BON, Seun Oloketuyi sent a press release where he debunked the claims saying thus, “Elvis Chuks is supposed to be my friend. He was one of the few Nollywood guys who sent me a birthday present this year. You can therefore imagine my shock…My friend also complained of not getting food and drink at the event. Yes, because we were not having an owambe. Lunch and dinner were provided buffet-style at the various hotels. Besides, I have never seen an international awards show where food is served. I pity Elvis really because BON Awards is an idea inspired by God and no amount of negative campaign can bring it down.”