AMAA Going! Going! … | Independent Newspapers Limited
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AMAA Going! Going! …

Posted: May 23, 2015 at 1:38 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Since 2005 when Miss Peace Anyam-Osigiwe came up with African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) that recognises and rewards nothing but excellence in the continent’s movie

Peace Anyam-Osigwe

Peace Anyam-Osigwe

industry, it has always held in Yenogoa, the small but oil rich capital of Bayelsa State. Except for  2008 and 2012 when it was held in Abuja and Lagos respectively, AMAA, has contributed positively to the development and showcasing of the state’s tourism potential to the world. This, AMAA, which styles itself as Africa’s Oscars, has done by bringing celebrities and international movie makers, too much to be mentioned in this piece, and who ordinarily would not have visited Bayelsa State that prides itself as Glory of All Lands. On the two occasions it was held outside the state, it was hurriedly moved out due to the negative activities of militants who then were the lords of the creeks.

Today, the story of AMAA cannot be told without mentioning President Goodluck Jonathan, whose tenure as president of Nigeria ends next Friday, and the former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha copiously for their support in helping to bring to fruition the dream of Anyam-Osigiwe. But with the rejection of Jonathan at the poll, the future of AMAA, going forward, is not certain going by what is playing out. First, it failed to hold in April, which has been its traditional month because of the general elections. Secondly it has also been revealed to Saturday Independen that if ever it will hold it will be in the rainy month of June and certainly not in Yenogoa.

However, despite its numerous challenges and huge competitions, AMAA remains the most respected movie award on the African continent. It is also is the most recognised by film bodies across the world when it comes to African film rating and awards. It has, equally in the past months suffered some set-backs that might affect its continued existence. It involves two critical deaths and the change that has taken place in Nigeria’s political terrain.

The first major tragedy was the death of Michael Anyam-Osigwe, one of the sons of foremost businessman and politician, Chief Emmanuel Anyam-Osigwe. He was also the elder brother of the founder of AMAA, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe.

According to reports, armed robbers shot him on Saturday November 29, 2014 on the ever-busy Ore-Benin Expressway, near Okada and he died later in the hospital. Michael was instrumental to the founding and sustenance of AMAA. He also tried to propagate the message of the awards and the African movie industry by facilitating the hosting of the award’s nominees’ party in different African countries.

The second tragedy is the defeated suffered by President, Goodluck Jonathan at the March 28 presidential election. You may ask what does that have to do with movie awards and AMAA. If you do not know the history of AMAA, you may not know how instrumental President Jonathan has been to the lofty heights AMAA has attained today. Founded in 2005, the award which some critics have dubbed “a Bayelsa State event” on account of the fact that it has held almost year in, year out in Yenogoa. Even when it held in Abuja and Lagos, Bayelsa State government was the major sponsor of the event. President Jonathan who started out in his political journey as the deputy governor and later governor of the state had been a big supporter of the award. Even when he eventually became president through the ‘doctrine of necessity’, he continued to support the awards. To show how deep his support was, he even gave a speech via telephone at the 2013 edition of AMAA, which Saturday Independent learnt would not have held but for his matching orders to the Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, to pick the bill for hosting the event which the state government had refused to host on grounds of paucity of funds.

The last tragedy that befell AMAA was the death of the Special Adviser to the President on Research, Strategy and Documentation, Oronto Douglas. The death was not only a shock to AMAA but Nollywood as a whole. He was a great supporter from his days as the commissioner of information in Bayelsa State and was instrumental to the recognition of Nollywood by government. He actually mid-wife AMAA when the first democratically elected Governor of Bayelsa State, Depriye Alameyesiegha, told him to work on the AMAA proposal when it was submitted by its founder, Anyiam-Osigwe.

“For 11 years now, we (AMAA) have maintained our relationship with this worthy son of Nigeria and environmentalist. The birth of AMAA also marked the beginning of his association with Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry that Mr. Douglas has partnered and worked with till date. AMAA and Nollywood will sorely miss him and President Goodluck Jonathan will also miss one of his trusted aides. We wish his family, friends and close associates the fortitude and grace to bear this irreparable loss,” Tope Ajayi, a media consultant to AMAA who is now an unrepentant supporter of All Progressives Congress (APC) and the President-elect, General Mohammadu Buhari, said in a press release he issued on the death of Douglas.

All these tragedies observers said are a big blow to the organisers of the event and might mean a lot of setback when it comes to funding future editions of the event. In recent times, the organisers have tried to raise fund from the corporate world and that has not been working out well; even at that, the few captains of industries that have supported the event did it as result of the intervention of people like Douglas and the President himself and so, going it alone now may prove difficult.

Except for United Bank for Africa (UBA), which sponsored the awards for five years, no other corporate entity has done business with the award for such number of years.

However, that is not the only problem facing AMAA. There are stiff competitions that are threatening to take the number one spot the award has occupied. The African Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards (AMVCA), for example has in its three years of existence grown to be one of the biggest movie awards on the continent. And it keeps gaining momentum year after year. Even Kunle Afolayan, one of Nigeria’s top moviemakers, attested to the popularity of AMVCA when he described it as the biggest awards in Africa.

Despite all these challenges, those who are close its founder insists that she always finds a way of coming out on top. They quickly pointed to the fact that despite sponsorship challenges over the years, she has been able to position the award to where it is today. Though, much has not been said about the 2015 edition of the awards, sources say that there is a lot of planning going on but that the awards may eventually be leaving Bayelsa once more this year. Where it will move to remains a secret that is known only to the organisers.

“AMAA will hold this year. That’s for sure. The process of pre-selection and selection is on as I type and we have gone six weeks into it already. We only broke the process when Oronto (Douglas), one of the pillars of AMAA was going to be buried. So it will hold and between us, it’s nominations that will hold in June while as always, the award will hold a months after. We had envisaged we will finish the screening by mid May but the distraction in the polity of the host country has not allowed us to be faithful to our plans. But there will be an official position on it,” Mr. Shaibu Hussien, one of the award jury said.

Aside the reasons adduced by Mr. Hussien, there is also the fear that some people who have been playing vital roles as far as the award ceremony is concerned are too involved in the change that has swept across Nigeria’s political terrain and may be too busy to be involved in AMAA this year.