I dedicate my life achievement award to my children, says Ugbomah
As the Silverbird Group yearly awards come up next week, Sunday, April 24, 2016, one of three recipients in the entertainment category and pioneer filmmaker, Chief Eddie Ugbomah, has said he would dedicate his ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ to his children who are scattered all over the world and achieving success in their own fields. Other recipients this year are traditional African music maestros, King Sunny Ade and Sir Victor Uwaifo.
Ugbomah who spoke in a telephone conversation from his Ilogbo-Eremi residence on the outskirts of Lagos said his homeland has failed to accord him the recognition and honour he duly deserves as a cultural icon.
He has consistently expressed his sadness at how shabbily he has been treated in his fatherland given his immense achievements as a filmmaker, particularly in his home state, Delta and the state of his residence, Lagos. At a point, he declared himself ‘stateless,’ arguing that the two states he claims had paid little heed to his stature even when others with less sterling credentials were celebrated by their states.
A firm believer in the power of entertainment to transforming young lives, with 13 celluloid films to his credit, Ugbomah has made repeated appeals to both Lagos and Delta State governments to assist him establish a film village and an academy for the filmic art for the training of young talents.
In Lagos, he said the Yoruba regard him as a kobokobo, a non-native, while in his home state, Delta, his achievements count for nothing besides being grossly undervalued. Only the Federal Government, he argues, honoured him with an Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON), without the usual nomination from his state government but based on sheer recognition of his outstanding work as a filmmaker.
However, dedicating his Lifetime Achievement Award from Silverbird Group to his children would seem ironic. “I will dedicate the award to my children because Nigerian film industry is dead. I’ve given so much for my country and the country has abandoned me. It has cost me my children who have all abandoned me because they think I’m rich and they have refused to look after me at my old age. I’ve done so much for this country, but it has remained ungrateful to me. I cannot dedicate my award to Nollywood because it is a dead industry,” he said.
He added, “When Pete Edochie was given a national award, his state government gave him a car and a house. In fact, the last award he got from a newspaper group, his state governor accompanied him to receive it. But my own Delta State does not celebrate me. It’s not fair what my own state is doing to me. Right now, I’m negotiating with Lagos and Abuja for the film village project if Delta doesn’t take it. I’m ‘stateless;’ I’m not Yoruba or Delta as both places have refused to accord me the respect due me. If I was Yoruba or Igbo, I know the honour I would have been celebrated more. Yoruba call me kobokobo; in Delta what am I called? Where do I belong?
“I have been wooing Delta State to take the film village and arts academy there for many years now, but I’m not being encouraged. No word from them. From my own industry, it’s a kind of envy; they envy me. That is why they don’t celebrate me. Those who have achieved far less get celebrated by their own people. Only the Federal Government recognized me with OON; others get nominated, but not my own state. Yet I keep writing them about my projects and how they can support, but they don’t listen. So, this award is a vindication that the recognition they deny me comes to me anyway in spite of them. They should be proud they have a man like me to call theirs!”.Ugbomah will celebrate his 76th birthday next December and hopes to make it a big event.
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