‘It’s a charade’ – Dele Odule kicks -Heads for Appeal Court
ON Thursday, January 30, 2014, Justice Bolaji Yusuf of the Federal High Court, Ibadan, Oyo State declared one of the contenders in the controversial elections of Association of Nigerian Theatre Art Practitioners (ANTP), Comrade Victor Asaolu as the duly elected president of the association.
The ruling tentatively laid to rest the about four-year leadership crisis between Asaolu and veteran actor cum film maker, Dele Odule.
Asaolu had gone to court to seek the permission to operate as the authentic leader of the association. This followed the controversies that trailed the Wednesday, September 22, 2010 election conducted by the association in Ilorin, Kwara State, which produced Asaolu the president. But the poll was boycotted by Odule, Jide Kosoko and their loyalists who strongly opposed the emergence of the Ilesa, Osun born activist cum theatre practitioner at the election.
Meanwhile, according to Asaolu, delegates from the seven eligible states including Ekiti, Oyo, Lagos, Ogun, Kwara, Ondo and Osun were all part of the September 22 election.
However, prior to that, there was also an inconclusive election which took place at Ace Hall, Yemetu, Ibadan, Oyo State on Wednesday, February 22, 2010.
The fact that the first election ended in crisis informed the second one held in Ilorin, Kwara State which was believed to have been stage managed by Asaolu faction of the association; hence the boycott by Odule’s loyalists.
Since that period, Jide Kosoko whose tenure expired in 2010 as the president of ANTP has been leading the group following a ‘status quo’ order by the court. But this didn’t go down well with Asaolu who has also been parading himself as the duly elected head of the organization. This has since been generating rancor in the association, especially between the two contenders. And all efforts by concerned individuals, including the former Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) boss, Segun Runsewe to reconcile the warring factions proved abortive as they both opted for legal settlement of the contention which almost consumed the Yoruba sector of the Nigerian movie industry.
But now that the court has given its verdict in favour of Asaolu, and ordered Kosoko to hand over the mace of the association to the former, whose election as the president of the association has been ratified. With this development, its logical to conclude that peace will soon begin to take its course in the Yoruba sector of the industry, only if Odule’s threat to head for the Appeal Court is jettisoned.
Reacting to the victory, Asaolu told ENCOMIUM Weekly in a chat on Friday, January 31, 2014, that he has been vindicated, pledging to embrace Odule and other aggrieved members of the association. “For somebody who won an election and a long term legal battle, and now, God has given me victory, I think I should be very happy.
“But to me, it’s no victor no vanquish thing. It’s a family matter. We’re all from the same profession, and we’re not politicians. I will welcome everybody. The fact is that when you become a king, every other person is your subject. And everybody should be treated equally.
“When two people fight for a position, one must definitely win. And for the person that has won, he must not see the other as a loser, but rather as a friend so that they can move the association forward.”
Asked if Dele Odule now decides to appeal the judgement, he said, “He is free to express his fundamental human right. But I believe when we get to the bridge, we shall know how to cross it.”
When ENCOMIUM Weekly got across to Odule on Friday, January 31, 2014, he also confirmed the development, but described it as a charade. “Yes, that’s exactly what the court said. But my stand is, one, the Asaolu’s prayer before the court is that he had conducted an election in Ilorin and that he won. Then, the court should uphold that election. Two, and Jide Kosoko should stop parading himself as president of the association because his tenure has expired. Then, three the electoral committee should hold another election.
“Now, the court said the election held by Asaolu was valid when almost 95 per cent of the supposed delegates didn’t take part including myself, Jide Kosoko and others. And I didn’t receive any notice of any election holding in Ilorin, Kwara State.
“I am not a lawyer nor a judge and I may not know any legal perception of any case. But one thing I know is that if you didn’t sleep in my house yesterday and the judge now said you did, so be it. If all those things I have said are not enough as evidence then I don’t know what legal procedure is all about.
“But one thing I can assure you of is that ANTP is a professional association, not political. You have the right to belong or not. So, those comfortable with the judgement will go along with it, and if they don’t they will challenge it because ANTP is an association that needs collective efforts to achieve what could be referred to as source of livelihood and professionalism. If the members of the association are comfortable with Asaolu who doesn’t know the nitty-gritty of the industry or the trade, if they think someone who is absolutely irrelevant in the industry should continue, so be it. The choice is theirs. But to me, that judgement will be appealed because I am not convinced by it. We’re going to court to appeal very soon. So, the end has not come yet. We are just starting.”
– TADE ASIFAT