By Ayomide Oriade
The chain of activities marking Nollywood @20 celebrations crystallized in a most memorable event on Wednesday, November 27th, at the prestigious intercontinental Hotel Lagos, where the movers and shakers of the movie industry gathered to celebrate the Nollywood Awards Night. The night would live long in the memory most movie practitioners, as distinctive talents, legends and innovators in the industry were awarded by their colleagues in recognition of their contributions to the growth of the third largest movie industry in the world. The occasion was also graced by a legion of foreign diplomats from US, Ghana, UK, Canada and so on. Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Ita Umoh Udo represented Governor Godswill Akpabio, Mrs. Ranti Alebiosu, Senior Special assistant to the Lagos State Governor on Tourism represented Governor Fashola, Ace comedian Ali Baba led his army of Comedians which included Gbenga Adeyinka, Okey Bakassi, Julius Agu and many others.
Setting the ball rolling for the night, Nollywood president, Zik Zulu Okafor stated that Nollywood has walked through freezing valleys and trying hills, adding that the reputation of Nollywood today is a result of talent and resilience of practitioners in the industry. “It has been difficult for us, we have been bent by challenges but we refused to break. For Nollywood, as we turn 20, it can only get better and I am glad that the change has started.”
Zik Zulu used the occasion to pay tribute to President Goodluck Jonathan for his immense support for Nollywood. “I would like to thank President Goodluck Jonathan who has shown confidence in Nollywood. In our first encounter with him, he gave Nollywood 200 million Dollars loan, when he saw that we were still struggling to meet the collateral demands of the banks; he came back and gave 3 billion Naira,” he said.
He also thanked host Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, stating that without the governor’s support, the Nollywood @ 20 projects was not possible. Zik also gave a special recognition to the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio for his transformation agenda for Nollywood which has seen him donate 50 million Naira to the industry as well as transforming the lives of Nollywood practitioners from his state.
In the first award category of the night, Chief Eddy Ogboma, High Chief Zeb Ejiro, Chief Osi Afasi Okeke, and Prince Jide Kosoko were given awards as Legends of Nollywood. Awards of Veteran on the night were presented to, Larry Williams, Pete Edoche, Franca Brown, Idowu Philips, Kingsley Ogoro, Obi Maduboku, Joe Jondu, Chiko Ejiro, Cosmas Ndulue, Kasumu Yaro, Mahmud Ali Balogun, Emeka Ossai, Obi Osotule and Ifeanyi Dike.
Also awarded for their Extraordinary Service to Nollywood are, Doctor Omar Farouk, Ralph Nwadike, Tunji Bamishigbin, Abiodun Olanrewaju, Ekpeyong Bassey, Yinka Quadri, and Sunny Mark Don. Others are Kate Henshaw, Lanre Hassan, Tunde Kilani, Tunde Alabi, Taiwo Hassan, Don Pedro Obaseki, Francis Onwochei, Azuh Arinze.
Awards also went to Joke Silva, Olu Jacobs, Teko Besson, Tade Ogidan, Emem Isong, Fred Amata, Kanayo O Kanayo, Adebayo Salami, Sani Mu’Azu, Chidi Nwokebia, Lancelot Odua Imasuen, and Oke Ogunjiorfor, Opa Williams and Abiola Atanda. Speaking on behalf of this group Awardees, Olu Jacobs thanked the organizers for recognising their effort in the industry adding that the awards will be greatly cherished for the fact that it came from fellow practitioners.
Femi Odugbemi, Ibinabo Fiberesima, Greg Odutayo, Tunde Oloyede, Fidelis Duker, Emma Isikaku, Nobert Ajaegbo, Bond Emeruwa and Ema Ogugwa bagged awards for their contributions to the development of Nollywood, While NTA, NCC, AIT, Africa Magic, French Embassy Nigeria, Pharmatex, University of Lagos, and Henry Chibuike Mathias received Awards from Nollywood for being Outstanding Partners of the industry. Awards for the Unsung Hero of Nollywood went to Fidelis Eweta, Mike Nliam and Jonathan Gbemuto. Awarded for their Outstanding Talents and Contribution to Nollywood, were Ali Nuhu, Segun Arinze, Funke Akindele, Patience Ozonkwo, Desmond Eliot, Stephanie Linus, Dagogo Daminus, Iyen Obaseki, Muhammed Abdullahi, and Ngozi Kebako.
The high point of the night was the presentation of the Grand Award to President Goodluck Jonathan, who was referred to as the father of Nollywood for his contribution, confidence and faith in Nollywood. This was followed by a special award as the Uncommon transformer of Nollywood given to the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio for his tremendous support for Nollywood. Lagos state Governor, Babatunde Fashola was also honored with an award as the Illuminator Par Excellence of Nollywood for his unyielding support to Nollywood.