DESPITE Thursday, January 30, 2014 ruling by Federal High Court, Ibadan, Oyo State declaring Comrade Victor Asaolu, the authentic president of the Association of Nigeria Theatre Art Practitioners (ANTP), his opponent, star actor Dele Odule is still maintaining that the election that produced Asaolu was a charade. He, however, justified the formation of Theatre Art and Movie Practitioners Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN), a parallel body to the Association of Nigeria Theatre Art Practitioners (ANTP).
The Oru, Ogun State born film maker opened up on these and much more when ENCOMIUM Weekly had a phone interview with him on Sunday, February 16, 2014.
How true is it that you’re not contented with the court judgement of Thursday, January 30, 2014?
That’s very true. It will be difficult for me to get along with that kind of judgement. Like I told you, there is law and there is justice. They are two different things. The judge might have looked at the matter from the perception of law because I am not a lawyer and I don’t understand what legal perception means but I don’t think the judgement is justified. My stand is still that there was no election. Then, how can anybody uphold an election that was not held? I have my points and I still stand on them. The election that was conducted in Ilorin, Kwara State, is a kangaroo one because all the delegates that were supposed to take part in the election were not there. The conduct of the election was absolutely against the constitution of the association. For the first time, if truly the Board of Trustees of ANTP actually banned the election held in Ibadan, Oyo State, did the newly constituted electoral committee follow the existing procedure or did they start another procedure of theirs afresh? If they had followed the existing one, they should have announced the date of the new election they claimed they conducted so that other contestants could be prepared and not only Asaolu. And if it was a fresh one, when was the manifesto night? How many people did they sell forms to and how much was each form? Then, can they show the public a copy of the form? Also, I will want Asaolu to present the list of other members of the executive that contested with him, starting from his deputy, secretary, welfare and so on. Where are they? Or is he the only one forming the executive council of the association? He should please, publish the names of other members of the executive.
After all, he couldn’t have contested alone? Then, the judge said in her ruling that where the election was supposed to be held initially was Kwara State Council of Arts and Culture, but on seeing the court injunction restraining them from holding the election pasted on the wall, they moved to another place. Now, why did they shift the goal post to Decadim Hotel, also in Ilorin? They were now saying they received a threat letter. In the court, they said the injunction order was not properly served. They said they shifted the venue of the election to Decadim because of the purported threat letter they received from some people. Then, who are these people they’re talking about? Who wrote and signed the letter? Why did they have to shift the venue of the election because of any threat letter? Why didn’t they seek police protection and go ahead with the election? Or were they saying Decadim was a hidden place that those that allegedly sent the purported letter couldn’t come and carry out their plan or attack?
Those are the reasons I can’t conform with the judgement. But like I said, I am not a lawyer nor judge.
But Asaolu said he has been talking with you…
(Cuts in) Yes, but I have told him I am not fighting him to become ANTP president but I am fighting for justice, morality and integrity.
There is this rumour that you have pulled out of ANTP because of the issue. How true is it?
No, I still remain a bonafide member of ANTP but now I also belong to another association called TAMPAN, that is Theatre Art and Movie Practitioners Association of Nigeria. The law of the country permits me to join as many associations as I want so far they are relevant to my profession and inasmuch that they will also add value to my life. I am still saying it, I am still a member of ANTP, a member that has contributed a lot to the development of the association.
Was TAMPAN formed by you?
No, but those who are also aggrieved with the judgement of January 30, 2014. They believe they should move forward. They believe this litigation of a thing can hold them backward, that’s why they pulled out of ANTP and formed TAMPAN. Definitely, we need to move forward, we can’t afford to be on the same spot. It was during this crisis that we lost one of our legends, Chief Akin Ogungbe. I was a very big player in giving him a befitting burial. When we wrote a letter to Ogun State government about the burial, it was these Asaolu and his followers that wrote a counter letter that they were the authentic ANTP executive, that they shouldn’t listen to us. But if not that Ogun State government knew who are really practicing and those that could genuinely handle the burial, they could have marred everything.
Will ANTP and TAMPAN have a common border?
No, never. There is no way ANTP and TAMPAN can work together. For what purpose? TAMPAN is an association that will see to the welfare of its members. Same way we have others, including SONTA, NANTAP, AGN and many more. But if by tomorrow the government says there should be a body that will be overseeing all these associations, then they will all meet there.
Who are the TAMPAN executive members?
Now, we only have caretaker committee at the national, state and local levels that will be running the association pending the time the elections will be held.
Are you a member of the committee?
I am not because I am not a position seeker.
But some people will see you not being in the committee as a way of preparing ground to contest as the president of the association…
(Cuts in) Not like that at all. I am not desperate to lead. Those in the committee are also eligible to contest if they wish, it’s only that they will have to resign from the committee before they can contest.
Are you still contemplating going to Appeal Court over the judgement of January 30, 2014?
We have people who are ANTP members and also TAMPAN members that are not pleased with the judgement, they are still heading for Appeal Court. I am not because Asaolu has never joined me in the suit. And I know he can’t do that because he wouldn’t want to dare me. I have read it in some papers and magazines that he floored me. I have also heard it but that’s not true. I have not in any way been joined in the matter. The matter I had with him then is still pending. He was charged for contempt of court in Ilorin alongside Chief Jimoh Aliu, Lere Paimo and Kamoru Aremu, who was their purported electoral chairman.
That means the battle has not ended between you and Asaolu?
For where? We’re still fighting on. I overheard him boasting that he will deal with Jide Kosoko and others. What he doesn’t know is that our association is being run philanthropically because we have few people that are very loyal and committed to the association and are always ready to put their money down to advance the course of the association. I am a very big player of such. Jide Kosoko, Oga Bello, Rasaq Adewale (Sokoti) and some other young guys and girls among us are also ready to sacrifice their personal interest for the development of the association. Asaolu is now saying that Jide Kosoko should hand over the property of the association in his possession, he should hand over other property including office and 18-seater bus. I don’t know if the association has any equipment. Even Asaolu that’s talking up and down, ask him to produce his financial record in the association in the last ten years. And I can tell you a lot of things I have done for the association. So, let’s know how is more committed to the association out of the two of us. In 1995, when I was the Vice President to Chief Jimoh Aliu, Asaolu was the secretary then. When we wanted to register ANTP, I was the one who paid N15,000 for the registration. Also, we had a typist who we owed three months salary, I single handedly paid her. I remember, I paid her with my Wema Bank cheque. The lady is still alive. She also worked with Awada Kerikeri Organisation after quitting ANTP job. I have never been a signatory to ANTP account even when I was the secretary, Ogun State chapter of the association, late Akin Ogungbe was our chairman, the record is still there. That was 1982. Let Asaolu come out with his own record. He has nothing to show. That’s why people are bitter because they know he only wants to reap where he didn’t sow.
– TADE ASIFAT