Following the ban on public gatherings put in place due to the Coronavirus pandemic, some Nigerian entertainers speak with MOBOLA SADIQ and OLAJIDE SAMUEL about how it affects their jobs and their plans to ride out the ‘storm’.
Any actor who goes on set would be punished –Bolaji Amusan (Mr Latin)
As the president of the Theatre Arts and Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria, you have directed that members of the association should not go on location between March 27 and April 17. What will be done to those who flaunt those directives?
I believe that TAMPPAN members are law-abiding and nobody would dare go against what we have said. But peradventure anyone goes against our rules and regulations, the full wrath of the law will come down on such people. Actors such as Odunlade Adekola, Femi Adebayo, Adebayo Salami (Oga Bello), Jide Kosoko, Yinka Quadri are already abiding by our decisions and they are major stakeholders in the industry.
What is TAMPPAN doing to complement the efforts of the government in combating this scourge?
We have a lot of things to offer such as sensitisation. A number of key actors have also lent their voices to the Covid-19 pandemic. What we are doing is actually more than money. If we have the money and don’t enlighten ourselves, then the money would be wasted. We are informing people of the need to protect themselves.
What happens to people that get their daily bread from everyday filming activities?
Health is wealth. If one is a millionaire and one isn’t healthy, then one doesn’t have anything. If people have to stay at home for three weeks, that’s not the end of the world. If one is working every day and one is unfortunate to contract the disease, one would spend one’s hard-earned money on seeking treatment. So, it is better to protect oneself so as to live longer. If after three weeks, the pandemic subsides, we will continue our jobs. But if things turn out otherwise, we would extend the ‘break’.
It’s time for entertainers to serve as beacon of hope –Cobhams Asuquo
From your perspective, how has the coronavirus pandemic affected the entertainment industry?
A lot of things have ground to a halt and it has also affected other sectors. As unfortunate as it is, it is also an opportunity for entertainers to use their platforms to spread the right messages and encourage people to do what is right such as maintaining good hygiene and social distancing.
As much as it’s a sad situation, it’s a time that can show the strength and character of entertainers in being able to do more than just entertain people. I feel like we have to find something positive in the whole situation. It has presented an opportunity for entertainers to rise up and serve as a beacon of hope to build a better-informed world.
How has the pandemic affected your productivity?
I have had to close down my studio because we are trying to be safe and I’m also concerned about the safety of the people who work with me. If anyone is affected by this, it would affect productivity more. In the case that we must (work), we have to make do with technology. My team and I are working very closely with the United Nations Children’s Fund to inform people about the dangers of not adhering to instructions from informed authorities and we are doing this in a very safe way. For instance, I’m at home, having a good time and taking it easy. This is a good time to trust God.
Some people have said that the pandemic has a spiritual undertone. What’s you take on that?
For the sake of not misleading the people, anyone who speaks and involves God at this time must be sure that they heard from God clearly; otherwise they would be misleading the people. I believe that God is merciful. I also believe that everything that happens in the physical world is controlled spiritually. However, when people say come to church (at a time when public gatherings have been banned), I think it’s misleading and very unfair. I think it’s very disrespectful to the rule of law, government and constituted authorities. It doesn’t matter how high ranking such a religious authority is, I think it’s wrong to encourage people to disobey the law. That should be a sign for followers to know who they are following. I don’t think God does anything without showing love.
How do you feel that someone who is suspected to have the virus was at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards which you also attended?
I have done the first thing by self-isolating. I have remained in my own space and if the need arises that I should take a test, I’m not scared of doing that. If I notice any symptom, I would go out and do what I have to do. I work hard and also try to live a healthy life. The virus is not an automatic death sentence, so if it happens, I would submit myself for quarantine and take the necessary measures.
I’ve been affected physically, spiritually, financially –Harrysong
Are you on self-isolation?
I’m currently stranded in Port Harcourt because I could not fly back to Lagos. It’s not that I don’t have money but flights have been cancelled and the roads are also blocked.
As an entertainer, how has the pandemic and ban on public gatherings affected you?
It has affected me physically, spiritually, mentally and financially. A lot of events have been cancelled. I just signed a huge contract in Paris but I can’t travel there. All the shows that I was booked for have also been cancelled and I can’t make money. It’s been very trying for me and my family. Staff members are waiting to be paid and they can’t be paid because shows have been cancelled. My birthday is on March 28 but the Coronavirus is a big problem for me because I can’t do anything. March has always been my miracle month but this time, I can’t do anything.
I was at the AMVCA and I trended online because of my outfit to the event. I went for a test at a Lagos hospital and I don’t have the virus. I’m safe.
Do you think celebrities are doing enough by way of social responsibility?
Firstly, this doesn’t depend on celebrities. We are heavily taxed by the government, so it should take care of its citizens. Government has not provided good healthcare facilities and we are now all suffering the consequences. I have actually produced and given out sanitisers because of this pandemic. Countries are taking care of their citizens, so why is the Nigerian government not doing that? Whatever well-meaning citizens do should actually be an addition to what the government has done.
Lockdown will make better husbands, wives –Adeniyi Johnson
How has the ban on public gatherings affected you?
It has kept actors in their respective homes. It will make us better husbands and wives, and our children won’t have to interact with us from the screen.
Health is wealth, so it is important to adhere to the instructions given by government and relevant authorities. It’s not like we won’t shoot (movies) again or we can’t recover the money, we just have to keep ourselves safe first and other things will follow.
Being idle makes me sick –Bukunmi Oluwashina
How has the ban on public gatherings affected you?
I hate being idle, so staying in a place for a long time doing nothing makes me sick. But all thanks to God, I have a studio in my house, so I still get to make music. And being a writer, I would have a lot of time and space to be by myself and create good stories in my head.
The only sad part is I miss being in front of the camera. Usually, I’m always on set. But aside from that, I’m not a social person. I don’t go to clubs, visit friends, or allow friends come visiting, if it’s not work-related. I love being by myself when I’m not at work. So as far as I’m concerned, I’m used to isolation. Shooting movies is the only thing missing in the picture.
Some people have said that the partial lockdown is an extreme measure. What’s your take on that?
Nothing is too extreme or too much to give up for the purpose of being alive and healthy. On the other hand, what is extreme is still having public gatherings despite all that is happening.
We need to ask important questions –Bethel Njoku (Senator)
How is the partial lockdown affecting you?
The self-isolation process is obviously affecting entertainers. The nature of our job is people-oriented, so with this social distancing, we are disconnected. However, I believe it’s for the better because we now need to start asking questions about contracts that were awarded to build hospitals and laboratories but were not executed. Thank God that this time, everyone is affected.
Do you think entertainers are doing enough to enlighten their fans about the pandemic?
How exactly are entertainers supposed to do enough? Are they the ones to build hospitals, labs, reduce fuel price and restrict movement?
Entertainers can only do things within their reach, which I must say they are doing. They have shown support with their various posts online by keeping people aware.School closed? Get access to Complete Secondary School Education (JSS1-SS3) CLICK HERE!
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