Grand House reception is no commercial affair, says Guv’nor Olumese
Niteshift Coliseum’s Guv’nor Ken Caleb Olumese has described as unfounded the reports making the rounds that his outfit demanded eight million naira gratification from Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole to be featured on the Grand House Reception (GHR). The governor eventually failed to attend. Olumese, who was reacting to a newspaper publication on the failed reception, said there was no time the issue of money was raised or discussed in any of the correspondences exchanged between the club and Edo State government on the planned reception. He stressed that GHR is never a commercial affair.
On the other hand, Edo government have reacted, saying the nonappearance of the governor was not to spite the organiser of GHR but that the governor had a some urgent issues to attend to at the time. The statement was made by the Special Adviser to the governor on Media, Mr. Tony Iyare who spoke with The Nation on behalf of Edo State governor.
On October 11, Oshiomhole was expected to be the guest at the GHR of Niteshift Coliseum, but he declined to honour the reception that was shifted to date on his request. Olumese said he had sent a letter to the governor asking what informed his last minute non-appearance but there has been no response from him.
The failed Grand House Reception will for long remain indelible in the annals of Africa’s number one nite club. It was the first time since the inception of GHR, the flagship programme of the club, that a special guest would refuse to honour the event thus sending patrons, guests and members of the public home disappointed.
Reacting to this, Iyare said: "As you know Olumese is a prominent son of Edo State and owner of one the most prestigious nite clubs in the country. The non-attendance of the governor was not an attempt to shun Olumese. You must know Governor Oshiomhole is very busy. He had some pressing state issues to attend to."
Olumese, who recalled that the GHR has been held in honour of 76 dignitaries including Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan, Justice Chuwudifu Oputa and Alhaji Balarabe Musa, said though hurt, he was not bothered because one could not satisfy everybody.
He explained: "There is always a protocol for invitation. I went to Benin and the governor received me and accepted the invitation. From there we started preparation. Two weeks to the event, he wrote to shift the reception to October 11, and never asked for the cost of the inconveniences as a result of the shift.
"But on October 9, an official from the Edo State liaison office in Lagos came to request for 15 additional invitation cards, which I obliged him. Everything was set and intact, only to be told by a friend that the governor would not make the reception. I have written, asking what happened; but up till now, there is no word from him. I have also called him on phone and sent sms, still no response. If we have done anything wrong, we are sorry that is how we are. But at his level, he should have gotten back to us," he said.
The Edo State-born entertain guru wondered why the GHR invitation assumed another dimension such that people were sending sms messages about the non-appearance of Oshiomhole at the reception from their mobile phones and crediting there to the coliseum. "I am not a politician, so why are people tainting this matter to this level? By 3.45 pm on Sunday, October 11, I got a message on my mobile phone from a friend that the governor would not attend the reception. And it was purported to originate from the coliseum. So, you can smell rat in the whole matter, which makes it look like a deliberate plan to smear my name," he said. But he assured the public that the club’s activities for the last quarter of the year are on course.
On this, Iyare said: "I cannot respond to rumour. Accusations as these would do anybody any good. I have told you the governor had some pressing state issues to attend to. Do you expect the governor to go clubbing when there are issues of state to attend to?"
On the impact of the global economic meltdown on show business, Olumese said the coliseum is managing the situation like any other corporate body. He said the club is making the best of the situation and helping to salvage the economy by hanging on there. He however noted that in depression, entertainment gets the first blow, because the basic needs of life would take the front burner. "The recession is global, but the Nigerian case before now has been unstable. Power generation, especially, is added overhead cost," he said.
Film making is beyond bread and butter
By Ozolua Uhakheme
UK-based Nigerian film maker, actor and artistic director of Ritual Theatre Arts in Education, Mr. Rufus Orisayomi, has described the Nigerian film industry as a vital sector capable of revamping the nation’s ailing economy life if properly packaged for the global market. He said there are abundant opportunities in the sector that could be used to launder the nation’s image without unnecessarily highlighting those seemingly negative aspects of the people’s ways of life.
Orisayomi, who was among the pioneer artistes at the famous Ori Olokun art experiment at the then University of Ife, Ile-Ife, enjoined committed Nigerian investors to look beyond instant rewards and rescue the sector for real development because the government, according to him, does not have the political will, commitment and sincerity to turn the sector around.
"If we must do it right, we must go through all the necessary processes. Also, we should as a matter of duty give glory and honour to our fatherland in the story lines of our films. In fact, to be a film maker is beyond bread and butter affair. Investors should rescue the sector because there is no government input for now. What we can use film to achieve is more than what we can say about ourselves to the world," he said, adding that a quality film could be screened simultaneously in 15 viewing centres across the country for profit.
The Bradford College and Middlesex Polytechnic, UK- trained film maker decried people’s apathy towards vanishing arts; saying religion has continued to keep many Nigerians away from their roots. He observed that preservation of works of art is unfortunately non-existent, except through the intervention of foreign agencies like UNESCO.
He said instead of leaving the preservation of the nation’s heritage in the hands of foreign agencies, individuals should show interest through setting up of archives. This, he said, had became relevant as most youths now find virtues and norms useful to learn from. "Many young ones are now picking the virtues of some of our sages like Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikiwe, who unfortunately they do not know. But it will make better impact if they have visuals to back the literature they can get. Unfortunately, the negative aspect of our culture is what we always showcase in movies. And this brings the nation to disrepute. Instead of dwelling on the negative side of our life, why not concentrate on creating rich archives for our heritage?" he wondered.
Orisayomi identified apathy and religious influences as challenges confronting appreciation and archiving of the country’s heritage.
The film maker, who has worked with Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka since the 70s as a teacher at the University of Ife, then at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and University of Benin, observed that youngsters across the world are becoming less interested in their culture and as such must be given an educational package that is adapted to the format that would sustain their interest. Only through this approach, he added, would Nigerian kids especially be interested in the nation’s heritage.
According to him, the size of his archive is richer than what German historian Uli Biere has in Osogbo. ‘What I have in my collection are enough materials to solve Nigeria’s problems.’ How? "With what I have in my collection, Nigeria can train its citizens well that they will be independent – minded and equipped to face the challenges of the society. In fact, the dichotomy between ethnic groups will be broken," he stressed.
To him, the establishing of Ritual Theatre Art in Education in London was aimed at promoting African arts in universities in the UK, using film as a medium, because many Africans in the Diaspora are in dire need of accurate information and materials about their roots.
Interestingly, Orisayomi is not unmindful of the need to contribute his quota to the promotion of his heritage on the home front. Currently, he is one of the resource persons in the hosting of the Black Heritage Festival in Badagry in April 2010 by the Lagos State government. He is also considering areas of collaboration with the newly opened UNESCO’s Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding in Osogbo, Osun State. A documentary on the relationship between traditional rulers and the government is one of his on-going projects.
But in the UK, his recent programme is a 15-minute documentary on Thirty years of African Dance in UK, featuring Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana among other African countries