ON Thursday, January 30, 2014, Federal High Court, Ibadan, Oyo State declared Comrade Victor Asaolu authentic President of the Association of Nigerian Theatre Art Practitioners (ANTP). The pronouncement laid to rest the leadership crisis that had engulfed the association since 2010.
ENCOMIUM Weekly on Friday, February 7, 2014, had a phone interview with the new leader of the Yoruba sector of Nigerian movie industry and he spoke on his agenda for the association and much more…
On Thursday, January 30, 2014, you’re declared by the Federal High Court, Ibadan, Oyo State as the authentic ANTP president after about four years slugging it out with Dele Odule. How do you feel about this development?
I feel very much happy about it. I also thank God and the people that supported me all through the period the matter was in court, most especially the acting chairman, Board of Trustees, Chief Lere Paimo, Chief Jimoh Aliu and other members of the board. They all stood by me. I thank them for their steadfastness and courage for standing by the truth. I also appreciate all the members of the association who were in my support, especially those from Ekiti, Kwara, Ogun, Lagos and other states.
What would you say the protracted crisis has denied you in the association?
I only missed not mixing and interacting with the people from the other side. I would have loved to really move with them and interact freely as a member of one family. That exactly was what I was denied as a result of the crisis. But now, I give glory to God. I have started enjoying free movement within the association, and we’re talking freely with one another.
What are you now doing as a leader to ensure that everybody is back together as one big family?
I have been talking with them individually and collectively in order to bring everybody back on board. Very soon that will be achieved.
How did the members of the association react to your victory?
Peacefully, I must be honest. I have received well over 1,000 congratulatory text messages from my colleagues, especially from the people from the other end. I have also received from our people abroad, including UK, US, Canada, Germany, Indonesia and others. So, they have all accepted me as their leader.
Can you unveil your agenda for the association?
My agenda comprises my manifesto which I circulated during the campaign period. This includes making sure the industry develops technically and otherwise. I will also use my office to bring the up and coming artistes on board, and also ensure they are shot to limelight and much more.
What are you doing concerning the issue of piracy that has almost crippled the industry?
Definitely, I am going to do a lot concerning piracy. No doubt, it has eaten deep into the system. It has become the major problem that has not allowed my people to enjoy the fruits of their hard labour. To do this successfully, I will liaise with the federal, state and local governments and all the security agents. It’s by taking the issue serious that we can find a lasting solution to it. My government will also see to the issue of cable network television transmitting our works 24 hours uninterrupted without any financial gain whatsoever. The marketing aspect of our work will also be properly looked into to ensure maximum profit for our members. We are also going to celebrate both the living and dead legends, which will be done state by state, and with government support. The administration will also look after the widows and children of our late heroes. We will also try as much as possible to sanitise the industry in all ramifications in order to enhance respect and dignity of our members. We will equally try all we can to reclaim our lost glory. We’re also going to make ourselves available to work with the relevant agencies, copyright commission, Nigeria Film and Video Censors Board, Nigerian Film Corporation, Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria and others. All the television and radio stations will also be carried along. So, also the print media. By the special grace of God, my administration will introduce discipline in the association. We will also work together with other relevant associations within and outside the industry, home and abroad.
But we learnt majority of the youths are not on your side…
(Cuts in) That’s not true. It’s just a rumour. As the situation is now, I don’t have faction in the association anymore. We’re a professional body. There is nothing like caucus again. We are all one. I don’t even know of any youth or an elder that’s not in my support. I am the president and father of the association. As far as I am concerned, no youth or elder has come before me and said he or she is not for me.
What’s the latest between you and Dele Odule?
We have discussed and still discussing. We will continue to discuss.
But he said he would appeal the judgement, what’s your reaction to this?
I have told you, he is free to express his fundamental human right. But as far as the case was concerned, he wasn’t even in the matter. The matter was between the incorporated trustees of the association, Victor Asaolu, the elected president in representative capacity versus Kola Olaiya, Wole Fadipe and Prince Jide Kosoko. So, where did Dele Odule come in?
But he contested against you. The case in court had to do with the leadership tussle in the association…
(Cuts in) I think I have told you the truth. You people are the ones even misquoting Dele. He also knows he was not in the matter at all. That’s the interpretation of the whole thing.
We learnt some people are not convinced with the judgement, and based on that, they are threatening to pull out of the association. What’s your reaction to this?
Nobody has officially indicated that before me. It’s all rumour because if somebody is not a bastard, he won’t want to leave his father’s house for another man’s house because of a petty disagreement. If two brothers fight in their father’s house, there is nothing wrong in that because there is bound to be agreement and disagreement. They must settle their dispute amicably. We only went to court to get correct interpretation of our constitution and actions that we have taken so far since the crisis started. So far that has been done, there is nothing more than to sit down and fashion out a common agenda that will move the association forward.
– TADE ASIFAT