Nollywood seems set to begin the New Year on a quarrelsome note. No thanks to the ‘Nollywood Roundtable on Deregulation’ which held last week at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos under the theme: Understanding Deregulation. Sponsored by the Special Adviser to the President on Research and Documentation, Mr. Oronto Douglas, the roundtable was initiated by the Segun Arinze-led Actors Guild of Nigeria, AGN, with the motive to garner support from the movie industry as regards the removal of fuel subsidy. The roundtable, which took place two days before the subsidy was removed, came with a lavish buffet and also availed everyone invited to the venue with an honorarium.
Friday Flavour learnt Nollywood personalities like Zeb Ejiro, Chico Ejiro, Monalisa Chinda, Rita Dominic, Zik Zulu Okafor, Charles Novia, Ifeanyi Dike and Fidelis Duker, amongst others, graced the event which incidentally was widely reported as meaning ‘support to the fuel subsidy removal by Nollywood’. But in a contrary view, the Association of Nollywood Core Producers, ANCOP, in conjunction with some stakeholders in Nollywood rose against the move, urging members to discountenance the views expressed in support of the new policy. At a wellattended press briefing, the national president of ANCOP, Comrade Alex Eyengho said his group would work with the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Unions Congress to protest against the ‘anti-people policy’.
“Ordinarily, we would have ignored and perceived the decisions, innuendos and resolutions reached at the unfortunate event of December 30, 2011 as an inconsequential internal affair of a faction of the AGN but for the impression given to government, Nigerians and indeed the world that the untidy rendezvous and conclusion therein represented the position of Nollywood on the rather controversial issue of the fuel subsidy removal. How far can this be from the truth! Sadly, we also noted that because of fear of the unknown, Segun Arinze got armed security agents to forcefully remove from the venue of the event some notable Nollywood stakeholders perceived to have a track record of always sticking by the truth”, Eyengho said. He continued, “The fear stemmed from the fact that these well-informed Nollywood stakeholders may expose the real motive behind the so called ‘Nollywood Rountable’.
No consultation whatsoever was carried out with stakeholders in Nollywood prior to the event, yet it was tagged “Nollywood Roundtable on Deregulation”. It also showed that the organisers and attendees do not know the difference between deregulation and fuel subsidy removal. Most attendees were rail-roaded into the event without a clue about the many waters that had passed under the bridge between the sponsors and Segun Arinze. It is sad indeed”. However, Segun Arinze told Friday Flavour in a chat that the event was strictly an Actors Guild of Nigeria affair, which was organised to let members come to terms with what deregulation entails.
“You should know the politics in the industry. There was no SSS or police at the venue to turn people back so they would not speak against fuel subsidy”, he said. “The event was strictly an AGN affair and in fact, the only person who does not belong to the industry who happened to be there was Oronto Douglas who came to explain what deregulation entails to members of the guild. We wanted to know how the deregulation will benefit the ordinary Nigerians and how the funds realised would be invested. We never made any communiqué available to state our stand. We did not address any conference to state what our position was over the raging issue. It was an enlightenment programme for my members”. This view however contradicts an earlier stand which aired on a National news TV station immediately after the event stating that Nollywood was backing the removal of fuel subsidy. The events of the coming week would certainly be intriguing in the nation’s movie industry as these discordant tunes rent the air.