The Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood, is basking in the euphoria of success and those that are making it what it is are either neglected in their time of penury or are being watched until they are no more, only for cheap condolences to be sent to their families that they were great actors. ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM, writes on some of these embattled star actors.
The words veteran, 'A List', are used to symbolise those 'in the know' of the movie industry.
While some are still working hard to build up the industry and the art, others are now going through hell because of one difficulty or the other.
Reports of veteran Nollywood actors and actresses make the rounds all over the country and on different media and social networks about men are women who died in the business poor and some are still alive but as invalids because of some challenges, which their associations failed to take.
When the news of popular and Nollywood's unique voice, actor Enbeli Elebuwa who was hit by a devastating stroke last year, made rounds of his current predicament which according to him, 'is improving and will join his teeming fans soon,' people thought it must be an unknown actor.
The actor who hails from Utagba-Uno in Ndokwa West local government area of Delta State, said he owes a debt of gratitude to the Delta State government which has been taking care of him since the debilitating illness started in November 2011.
One then wonders, where is the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN)? What is the need of becoming a member? Are these people not members? Why are they not taken care of?
This is a sad one as many of them have been left hanging in the air. Can anyone in the Guild boast about having done enough for the members?
The Nigeria movie industry is the second largest in the world and the people making it what it is are neglected in their times of need.
What then is it? Is it just the fame, the fortune or the fall?
Like in the sports sector, many entertainers have helped in building and contributing to the very name we are enjoying in this country only for them to be forgotten at the time of need.
Delta State government moved Enebeli Elebuwa to Abuja last June, en-route Indian after suffering massive stroke early last year.
"Honestly, I am overwhelmed by the support and encouragement of Delta State to my plight", he said. "But for the State's intervention, I really don't know what would have happened to me", he added, stressing that the State governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan should be praised for his efforts in saving the life of a fellow Deltan.
"The State flew me to an Indian facility in Abuja in June this year when my condition was deteriorating in Lagos", he disclosed.
He said that was where for the first time he was able to stand unaided for three minutes after a two-month stay. "And when my condition could not improve beyond that point, the governor directed that I should be moved to India where I am currently receiving treatment and getting better by the day".
In another case of humiliation and disgust, Pearl Weekly Magazine and Teekaymo.blogsot.com , also reported that veteran Nollywood actress, Ngozi Nwosu, in the popular sitcom 'Fuji House of Commotion', is presently battling with a kidney related disease but that she has been neglected by her colleagues in the industry.
According to a source close to the ailing screen goddess and the Imo State-born script interpreter, she has been abandoned by her colleagues in the motion pictures industry in Nigeria.
It was also gathered that Ngozi is now at the mercy of her non-industry friends who have been responsible for her treatment in Badagry end of Cotonou, Benin Republic, where she is being treated in the traditional way due to the financial stress she is going trough. A thought provoking issue that might wring out tears from even the heartless.
Where is AGN? Do they have funds? What does the constitution say about members and non-members? Or is it lipservice about AGN?
While Nigerians are happy that Nollywood should be appreciated for its growth, other celebrities claim they don't have fund to help with her medical treatment in an Indian hospital, which made her to resort to herbal drugs in Cotonou.
According to Blessing Abraham, 'when news of famous personalities with problem due to lack of money arises, colleagues will never help until that person is no more. Then they will start shedding crocodile tears that are not necessary.
Another painful one is Pete Eneh who was recently reported to have lost a leg from an ailment that had been tormenting him for sometimes now. According to Teekaymo.blogspot.com, he was reported to have lost one of his legs through amputation due to infection in the leg. The actor, who has been in an Enugu hospital, has been down since last year when he had the injury in his leg.
His case deteriorated when he couldn't get proper medical attention for the injured leg. For the infection not to spread to other parts of his body, the doctors decided to amputate his leg to save his life.
Speaking with a Nollywood Director and Producer who is also a member of the Directors, Producers and Actors Guilds of Nigeria respectively, Osaretin Ogemudia, he stated that love is the major thing lacking in the industry.
Osas, as he is called emphasised that only when personal interest is driven away could there be oneness in Nollywood,
"Nollywood comprises directors, producers and actors guilds of Nigeria. And the actors you have mentioned belong to the Actors Guild. These men and women pay their dues and are neglected in the time of needs. The only time you see the guild standing up for them is when a producer owes them but aside that, there is no insurance scheme for them."
He also said the continued war for power of the hierarchy hampers a lot of progress.
"I thank God that Ibinabo, who is full of vision is working hard to unite and instill that love in the members. We in the producers guild are partnering with one insurance company and our members will only have to take their card when sick."
He said AGN members are only there to envy and blackmail themselves, instead of giving credence to what should be done like seeking for funds from fans and government to take care of ailing members.
"The funds meant for these people, the state chairmen use up for themselves. It is so painful that there is no love in the industry," he said.
Gospel artiste, Kenny Sam said, "That is a pure representation of how leaders from this part of the world have always treated their subject."
While another producer and movie director based in Lagos who has worked with numerous faces in the industry including the actors going through tough times said; "They should elect capable hands to manage their affairs".
As things go, it seems many are waiting for someone to be ill before they react and Kudos must be given to the Governor of Delta state for the gesture. This is also calling on various individuals to extend the hands of empathy to the challenged actors and actresses so that that exquisite countenance we see every day will continue appearing and not die of neglect.