Chief Eddie Ugbomah
I am so proud that governor Akinwunmi Ambode personally spoke to me. He made my year and agreed to do his best by inviting me to join the Lagos at 50 celebration, in the historical part of the committee.”
This was how an elated Chief Eddie Ugbomah gushed over Ambode’s interest in the movie and music Halls of Fame he has created to preserve entertainment history in Nigeria. Since 2002, when Ugbomah set out to create the two Halls of Fame that contain the portraits and historical materials of icons of Nigerian entertainers, there have been efforts to mainstream them by bringing the archival materials from his Ilogbo-Eremi country home near Badagry to town for a wider public viewing and patronage. This has been without much success. But with Ambode’s interest, Nigeria’s Halls of Fame for entertainers would now see the light of day.
According to Ugbomah, who made the disclosure last week in Surulere, Lagos, “History has been dropped from our schools and there are no decent libraries or up-to-date Halls of Fame for any professional achievers in Nigeria. Luckily, on December 17, 2016, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State saw my interview in one of the dailies on my 76th birthday, a pioneer and power behind entertainment in Nigeria, talking about Ilogbo-Eremi, the first film location in Nigeria ever before it dispersed to locations in Enugu, Kano, Asaba, and Abuja.
“In it, I appealed to Ambode to salvage the Movie and Music Makers Halls of Fame that was legally registered since 2002. It has Chief Dokpesi, Late Rasheed Gbadamosi, Femi Lasode, Jimi Odumosu, Late Jimmy Atte, Brenda Shehu, Sadiq Balawa as members, Boad of Trustees, which I set up. As Lagos is gradually building up as a Tourist Centre in all aspects, the people’s governor, having read my appeal, promised to salvage the historical Movie and Music Halls of Fame that had been dismantle from the gallery due to rent issues and wrong location.”
Ugbomah stated ruefully that several appeals he made to federal or state ministers, commissioners of Information, culture and tourism fell on deaf ears, as none of these cultural officials “cared for a historical centre. None of the past governors ever cared. Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State and Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State made promises but never delivered.”
For the pioneer filmmaker, these are bad memories he would rather forget. He is, however, thankful for Ambode’s promised intervention to bring his 14-year old project, which he has borne alone at huge personal costs.
Ugbomah described himself as man, who has done a lot to serve Nigeria through Nigerianising the movies and music since 1966.“As the youngest entertainment promoter in the World,” he said, “I joined in pioneering the film Industry with others to drive away Indian, Chinese, and America films from the old cinemas. The Music and Movie Makers Halls of Fame is worth waiting for as there are plans to mount the 350 portraits of motion picture and Music people of those who are late, retired and alive. You will see portraits of Bobby Benson, Rex Lawson, Victor Olaiya, Roy Chicago, Orlando Martins, Hubert Ogunde, Francis Oladele and many others in a befitting gallery. The new museum will be built along Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.
“It takes only one dynamic, unbiased and distribalise man to correct a wrong situation. We have federal, glamorised galleries for coup plotters and wreckers of society in Nigeria. But this is not so in France, U.S., and Europe. If Nigeria wants to lead Africa, this is one of the ways to do so, by example. May God bless Ambode and Lagos State for this patriotic act.”