By Benjamin Njoku
The prolonged crisis rocking the Actors Guild of Nigeria, AGN, may finally be coming to an end if the recent moves by some concerned stakeholders in the industry are anything that would help to restore peace in the troubled guild.
For the past 12 years, the guild has been embroiled in leadership tussle, culminating in the sacking of its National President, Ibinabo Fiberesima last year by the court, following a lawsuit filed against her re-election by one actor, St. Maradona Mikevine. The actor was the National Treasurer in the election that produced another popular actor, Emeka Ike, as AGN president. Mikevine, in his suit, argued that the election that brought Ibinabo into office was conducted in the face of a subsisting court order restraining the conduct of AGN election.
The popular actor also, urged the court to determine whether it was proper for an election to be conducted in the face of an order to the contrary, and whether anyone could parade himself or herself as AGN executive based on an election conducted against a court order. The suit that brought about the initial order was filed by Emeka Ike.
However, before St. Maradona Mikevine came into the picture, Emeka Ike had been battling for the leadership position of the guild since 2005, after the tenure of Ejike Asiegbu, as the former National President of the guild expired. Then Asiegbu had refused to vacate the seat or conduct a fresh election, forcing the BoT headed by Prince Ifeanyi Dike to suspend him and appointed veteran actor, Kanayo. O. Kanayo as the Interim President of the guild.
Meanwhile, when Ejike realized that KOK was planning to organize an election, he quickly went to Port Harcourt and conducted an election that produced Segun Arinze as the new President. While KOK also went ahead with a parallel election through which Emeka Ike became factional President.
The drama, however, took a drastic twist when Segun Arinze surrendered his mandate to the BOT, saying that he wanted peace to reign. Consequent upon this, the guild decided to form a government of national unity headed by Arinze. But Emeka Ike, KOK and some other members did not support the decision.
As the fire raged on, Segun Arinze brought Ibinabo Fiberesima into the picture, as she was elected as the first female President of the guild in 2012, amidst stiff opposition that she was an ex-convict and a woman.
Since then, the guild has never known any peace at the national level. Twelve years down the line, AGN has been at a crossroad. Rivalries, money laundering, back-biting and feuds have been the order of the day. Sadly, the last effort by actor Steve Eboh-led Caretaker Committee better known as ‘AGN stakeholders’ to restore peace to the troubled guild hit brick walls. But the good news is that some concerned stakeholders have taken it upon themselves again to end the feuds. They are currently holding secret meetings with the warring factions of AGN with a view to restoring peace to the troubled association.
‘AGN crisis is fuelled by those who are benefitting from it’
Last Friday night, the stakeholders met with Emeka Ike and his team. The meeting, which they described as ‘a pointer to ending the crisis rocking the guild’ lasted for hours at Marble Brand Hotel, in Ikeja,Lagos. It had AGN’s BoT Chairman, Prince Ifeanyi Dike in attendance as well as Sunny Mcdon(BoT member), Okey Bakassi, the owner of Marble Brand Hotel and Frank Dallas who sacked by Ibinabo for offences ranging from anti-guild activities and insubordination. Also,in attendance from Emeka Ike’s camp were his National Secretary, Femi Durojaiye, the treasurer and the man at the centre of the storm, St. Maradona Mikevin.
Speaking with HVP, after the meeting, which ended around 2.30 am, Emeka Ike said, he’s ready to give peace a chance, describing the meeting as ‘ a pointer that there is a way forward for the guild.’
“That we sat to talk about the progress of AGN, is a good pointer that peace is in sight. We talked, ate and drank together is a sign of peace. The direction is achieving peace. Though Ibinabo was not here, her boss, Ifeanyi Dike, Sunny McDon, Okey Bakassi represented her interest.”
“We will be meeting again to fine tune things. The crisis in the guild is being fueled by those who are benefitting from it. They have sustained this battle for so long. But we thank God that at the end of the day, we are ready to sheathe our swords and let go of our egos and our positions to save the soul of AGN. According to Prince Ifeanyi Dike, the essence of the meeting is to chart a new direction for the guild. Revealing that they have asked Emeka Ike to itemize his demands as he would present the same to the larger house, the AGN BoT chairman, however, called on all warring factions to sheathe their swords, urging them to join hands in moving the guild forward once again. Meanwhile, HVP gathered that a national summit of AGN is scheduled to hold on Monday, August 21, at The Oaklands amusement park, Enugu. Part of the agenda of the summit, according to an insider is how to chart a new direction for the association.
It is believed that with these laudable moves, the once vibrant Actors Guild of Nigeria will bounce back to regain its lost glory, occasioned by many years of leadership tussle and politicking.