This is not the best of times for the Nigerian film industry, popularly called Nollywood, as there has been a harvest of deaths.
Just as stakeholders are trying to live with the reality of the painful exit of veteran actor, Sam Loco Efe, Nollywood has again been shaken to its foundations with the shocking demise of two key players: Gogo Ombo Gogo and Ndubuisi Okoh, in a spate of two days.
The death of versatile Bayelsa-born actor, Gogo Ombo Gogo, occurred on Sunday, 22nd July, 2012. The cause of his death is yet to be ascertained, but sources revealed that he was diabetic.
Nico News learnt that his last outing was a forth-night ago in an event where Pastor Wole Oladiyun of Christian Living Spring Apostolic Ministry (CLAM), had a prayer session for actors and actresses in Nigeria, for God to continue to guide the Nigerian celebrities, especially the stars in the Nigerian Film Industry, so that they will not witness untimely death.
Ombo, a product of the famous The Crab, that is, the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Port Harcourt, had featured in numerous films with other popular artists, which include, Dwelling In Bondage, where Mike Ezuruonye and Ini Edo, acted, and Ti Oluwa Nile, a film directed by ace director, Tunde Kelani.
The experienced actor will be missed by his numerous Nigerian fans in Yoruba and English movies, where he showcased his bundle of talent.
Ndubuisi Okoh, on the other hand, was one of the founding fathers of Nollywood, and he is said to have lost a long battle with life on Monday, 24th July, 2012, from partial stroke, which occurred in 2006.
Ndu, as he was popularly called, a Theatre Arts graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, former University of Ife, who was a former Producer/Director at Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, Zone B Headquarters Aba, until his death, made a mark in Nollywood as a Director, Production Designer and Artistic Director, as well as a Screen Writer.
His career as a Director saw him directing more than 50 films, both in Igbo and English, which include, Missing Mask, Coat of Many Colours, Ngene, Christianity 1 & 2, Identity 1 & 2, Mysterious, Crazy Millionaire 1 & 2, Young Millionaire 1 & 2, Secret Courage 1 & 2, Hit and Run 1 & 2, Corner Stone, Not Your Wealth 1 & 2, Power of Promise 1 & 2, Innocent Tears 1 & 3, Lost Kingdom 1 to 3, Burial Business 1 & 2, Jealousy 1 & 2, Master 1 & 2, Mama I will Die 1 & 2, Together Forever 1 & 2, Laraba 1 &2, King Jaja of Opobo 1, among others.
Major stars like Olu Jacobs, James Iroha, Chika Okpala, Pete Edochie, Columbus Irisoanga, Joke Silva, Saint Obi, Ejike Asiegbu, Bob-Manuel Udokwu, Monaliza Chinda, Francis Duru, Julius Agwu, Sam Loco, Nkem Owoh, Clarion Chukwurah, Charles Okafor, Clems Ohameze, Genevieve Nnaji, Rita Dominic, Basorge Tariah Jnr., among others, have featured in the productions he directed both in NTA and the film industry.
His immense contributions towards producing the best actors, actresses, screen and script writers, lighting designers, make-up and costume artists, and so on, in Nollywood, will always be remembered.
When he was in NTA, he instituted a post-mortem forum for producers and directors for the preview and criticism of all drama programmes aired within the week, in which Certificates of Excellence were given to producers and directors, as it brought competition and improved programme content, technical and artistic standard in the Drama Unit of NTA Benin.
During his NTA Aba years, Ndu embarked on a massive talent hunt and training of talents, instituted a programme, where he trained young producers/directors within the Programmes Department, and provided training grounds for script writing and review within the department, even as he developed new programme ideas for Drama, Light Entertainment and Youth Units.
The climax of his television career was when he successfully directed films that gave NTA Aba awards in the Annual NTA TELEFEST entries, for three years.
For his invaluable contributions to the film industry, he was conferred with the Nollywood Outstanding Personality Award (NOPA), alongside personalities like Joke Silva, Sam Loco, Nkem Owoh, Clarion Chukwurah, Isa Abubakar, Ekenna Udo-Igwe, Zik-Zulu Okafor, Ifeanyi Okafor, Okechukwu Ogunjiofor, Chux Mordi, Blessing Rose, and Sanni Muazu, among others.
Reacting to the tragedies, the Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, said these are deaths, too many, in Nollywood, adding that both theatre veterans were brothers and friends to him, whose demise would create a vacuum in his life.
He lamented that Ndubuisi’s long battle for survival had been tortuous, but that he is consoled by the fact that he had left indelible marks in the annals of Nollywood, which cannot be obliterated.