I don’t need AGN’s presidency to be relevant – Clarion Chukwurah

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Clarion-1Veteran actress Clarion Chukwurah has been in the news lately over her disagreement with the current president of the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN) Ibinabo Fiberesima. In an interview with MORAKINYO OLUGBIJI, Chukwurah who won the award for Best Actress of 2014 at the just concluded AMAA ceremony in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, explains the issues with Fiberesima

Is it true that you were paid N10 million for your role in “Apaye” which just won you AMAA’s Best Actress of 2014?
I didn’t collect N10 million for “Apaye,” but I was well paid for the role.

You’ll be 50 years old in July. How would you be celebrating?
I’ll be hosted by friends in Atlanta and Chicago. Plans are already being made. But when I return there will be so much to celebrate here in Nigeria too.

Even at 50 you still look great. What does style mean to you?
Your style is your style. It is who you are. Who you are determines what your sense of fashion is and your personality.
What is it with you and AGN’s president, Ibinabo Fiberesima?
I’ve said everything that needs to be said about Ibinabo and why she must, as a matter of urgency, resign now. A criminal, an ex-convict is not fit to lead AGN. It’s against the AGN constitution. It’s clearly stated there. She still has so many questions to answer over the killing of one Dr. Suraj Giwa whom she wasted through reckless driving returning from a night club. Even the AGN conference of Chairmen in Nigeria have agreed that tolerating and concealing convict Ibinabo Fiberesima and her cohorts as they parade themselves as custodians of the AGN, make us culpable of housing criminals and helping them to pervert justice. She has not been able to make any tangible achievement since she illegally assumed office other than go about to beg for money from the hands of politicians for her personal pocket. It’s just unfortunate that every attempt to get this industry on the right track has been thwarted by criminal who don’t have regard for the laws of the land. Not only me, but all relevant stakeholders are saying no to Ibinabo because we can no longer watch AGN which we have laboured for all these years both intellectually, physically and financially collapse under Ibinabo just like PMAN collapsed.

Some people are saying that going to meet Goodluck Jonathan was a good step forward for the guild. What do you think?
First of all, we’ve reached out to the presidency to disregard Ibinabo as AGN’s president before, which was shunned. We made it clear to everyone that her being in that position is unlawful. You should know that Jonathan’s approval of her visit means that he has stepped into the affairs of the guild which is a good thing, except that Jonathan stepped in in a negative way by welcoming a criminal – a fugitive of justice. The guild needs an explanation. Does that mean the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria no longer has regards for the nation’s rule of law that he is now abhoring a convict? Ibinabo ran away from her criminal conviction and with the same brazen disregard led the AGN BOT and her so-called executives to go against two court orders. So what message is Nigeria sending to the world?

She also said you are against her because you want to be relevant?
I don’t need AGN’s presidency to be relevant. I’ve been a professional actress for 35 years. I’ve been active. As we speak I still get bombarded with roles; I’m still in demand. Where was she when I started? How many movies has she acted in? Can you mention five of her movies? I think Ibinabo is the one who needs relevance because I’m already relevant. Even my own son Clarence is relevant all over Africa, that’s my product for crying out loud. I also know the number of people whom I have groomed to become successful in this industry. What has Ibinabo contributed?

If you become AGN president today, what would you do differently?
The point of my dissatisfaction with Ibinabo is not particularly to become the AGN’s president. I’ve only been prompted by all stakeholders to step in knowing fully my involvement in the formation of the guild years back. If someone else who is eligible shows up, I will give my full support. I’m only trying to bring dignity back into the guild. However, if I become the president, like I have said before I would not be going to ask for money, but rather I would be calling on the private sector to fulfil their obligation to the act as spelt out in the constitution. Also if I’m the AGN’s president, there will be nothing like Kannywood or ANTP. The Nigerian artiste community ought to be one in an era when we are all preaching unity. It is the discrimination that has existed in AGN all the years that made actors in other regions and tribe to see the AGN as an all Igbo affair so they went to set up their own movie body. Everybody should be equal and carried along. We need to be one. That’s how we can achieve growth for the Nigerian movie industry.

What’s your final take on this issue?
AGN cannot be led and will not be led by a convict, especially an unrepentant one like Ibinabo. Ibinabo’s image is bad for AGN and negates our integrity. We won’t fold our arms to watch. My disagreement with her is not personal. It’s not about me, but it’s about the relevant stakeholders in AGN who want sanity back into the guild.
What’s your opinion about the ongoing insurgency in the country?
For Boko Haram to go on for so long in the country shows how weak our government and the nation’s security is. I was in Kenya during the Westgate Mall bombing and the action of the Kenyan’s president and the country’s intelligence marvelled me. Intelligence was used to determine where the assailants came from and they found out they came from Somalia. They invaded Somalia. The UN secretary general even supported the move irrespective of UN agreements. Desperate situations require desperate solutions. It’s so sad that innocent kids are stolen away into the forest by Boko Haram and many weeks after nothing could be done by our government. It’s a shame.

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