June 20, 2009

Actors Guilds of Nigeria ON FIRE

*BOT kicks Ejike Asiegbu out of office

By Ogbonna Amadi & Benjamin Njoku
As you are reading this  report, the Actors Guilds of Nigeria, AGN, is on fire. Reason, Board of Trustees of the body led by its chairman, Prince  Ifeanyi Dike, on Monday, kicked the embattled president of the association, Ejike Asiegbu, out of office, saying he is “illegally occupying” the seat of the president of AGN, despite the fact that the two tenures he was allowed by the guild’s constitution had long elapsed.

But in a swift reaction, the embattled president who appeared unruffled, dismissed the threat, describing the originators as ‘desperados’.

“Let them come and take it if they so desire the seat. I’m not bothered either.  They are desperados. I don’t have time to go to court. I am not even losing my sleep because of the threat.

Asiegbu ...BOOTED OUT?

Asiegbu ...BOOTED OUT?

“All of them are in soup. If they have appointed people to take over from me, let the people come and assume office. I am waiting for them. Let them come and take over. This is neither the first nor the second time they are  attempting to unseat me to no avail,”Asiegbu fumed when Showtime Celebrity contacted him.

Also, venting his anger, former president of the body, actor, Zack Orji, in his reaction, described the board’s decision as being hasty. He blamed the board for its inability to  exhaust all available opinions before moving to kick the president out of office.

However, in spite of Asiegbu’s unperturbed attitude, and Zack Orji’s position on the matter,  a caretaker committee to be headed by actor Kanayo O. Kanayo and Mr. Bimbo Manuel as the Vice-President was on Monday constituted by the board to pilot the affairs of the guild for the next six  months tenure with option of renewal.

Following this development, the embattled president of AGN stands suspended from the body together with his national executives.

At its extra-ordinary meeting,   held on the same Monday at the guild’s head office in Surulere, Lagos, where the suspension was announced,  members of the board in attendance, directed Kanayo to assume office with immediate effect.

The conspirators  cited Asiegbu’s inability to conduct an election to usher in a new administration to pilot the affairs of the body, as part of the reason he was sacked from office.

In a resolution signed by three out of five members of the board, including Prince Ifeanyi Dike, Mr. Emmanuel Oguguah and Mr. Murphy Stephen, dated 15th of June, 10-points agreement were adopted.

Some of the adopted points read as follows: “Considering the fact that the tenure of the present president of the guild, Mr. Ejike Asiegbu, has expired and he has failed, refused or neglected to conduct an election to usher in a new administration to lead our noble guild;

“Acknowledging the position of the registered board of trustees as the custodians of the constitution of the guild;

“Accepting the fact that a proactive measure must be taken by the board of trustees to restore confidence in the guild by appointing a care-taker committee to run and oversee the affairs of the guild;  “The board of trustees hereby resolves as follows…:”

According the resolution, other members of the care-taker committee would be appointed in consultation with the board of trustees.

“During the six months tenure, major decision of the care-taker committee of the guild should be in consultation with the board of trustees.

“The new care-taker committee must work to build alliance, peace and unity amongst all interest groups and fractions within the guild in addition to working  assiduously to reposition the guild to achieve its previous glory.

“The committee must audit the accounts and properties of the guild and render a proper documentation of all registered members of the guild. It must, as a matter of urgency, take immediate possession of the properties of the guild.

These appointments take immediate effect, even as the de-facto president, Mr Ejike Asiegbu, and his entire national administration, are hereby suspended for reasons which are obvious.”

Ejike’s tenure of controversy

It would be recalled however that before now, crises had been rocking the actor’s guild over what the members described as Asiegbu’s sit-tight syndrome.

Early this year, the bulky actor was dragged to the Federal High Court at Oyekan Abayomi Waterfront, Ikoyi, by some aggrieved members of the guild to answer questions on his insistence on “illegally occupying” the seat of the president of AGN, despite the fact that the two tenure he was allowed by the guild’s constitution, had long elapsed.

Reports had it that the outing at the court was just to open the case, which is expected to generate enough fireworks to bring back real action to the apparent lull that had strangulated Nollywood for a while.

Unrelenting in their  bid to unseat Asiegbu as president, in 2007, a group of state chairmen, led by Lagos State head, Remy Ohajianya, attempted to impeach the embattled president  while he was away in France, where he went to attend the annual film festival, in Cannes.

In what he described as a counter attack, Asiegbu gathered his forces to stall the move of the Lagos State chairman. He was reported to have cancelled meeting of the Conference of Chairmen conveyed by Ohajianya, which to many, did not deter the actors who appeared bent on removing the national president.

Overtime, while Asiegbu’s administration lasted, accusations and counter-accusations had trailed the affairs of the actors’ body. At one time, Asiegbu was allegedly to be high-handedness. He was also accused of mismanagement of the guild’s funds.

Ejike and the Zimbabwean fraud connection

The latest power tussle, Showtime Celebrity gathered, is not unconnected with an unclear transaction, which Asiegbu was alleged to have made, using the name of the body with some marketers of Nigerian movies in Zimbabwe.

Top Nollywood stars react

While mixed feelings have continued to trail the crisis as it deepens, we bring to you reactions of some top actors and stakeholders in the industry.

BOT’s decision too hasty — Zack Orji
BOT’s decision was too hasty.

They did not exhaust all available options before taking that decision. I have given my candid opinion to the BOT chairman, Prince Ifeanyi Dike.

The role of BOT is simply advisory and I can’t remember anywhere in the constitution which empowers the board to take such action. Some few years ago, I was invited as a stakeholder to be part of a team to mediate between Ejike Asiegbu and BOT’s crisis, where an MOU was signed stating BOT’s role.

And I also remember that BOT’s role was strictly spelt out in the MOU as advisory. They were also warned not to meddle in the affairs of AGN.