REPORT OF THE CHAIRMAN OF ASHLEY NWOSU BURIAL COMMITTEE
June 16, 2011
The National President
Actors Guild of Nigeria
17 Ajao Road Surulere, Lagos
REPORT OF THE CHAIRMAN OF ASHLEY NWOSU BURIAL COMMITTEE
MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE:
1.ABUBAKAR S. YAKUBU - CHAIRMAN
2.DONALD OKOLI - SECRETARY
3.EMEKA ENYIOCHA - MEMBER
4.EMEKA RISING IBEH - MEMBER/LAGOS STATE CHAIRMAN
5.FRANK DALLAS - MEMBER
The committee was set up by the National President of Actors Guild of Nigeria, Mr. Segun Arinze, with the sole objective of organizing a befitting burial for the Late Ashley Nwosu.
TERMS OF REFERENCE
1.Liaise with the family of the Late Ashley Nwosu with a view to participate in his burial activities
2.Organize a befitting service of songs/candle light vigil in Lagos, his state chapter.
3.Ensure late Ashley Nwosu's family members attend the service of songs/candle light night
4.Mobilize members to attend his burial ceremony en mass
5.Work with state chapters concerned, i.e Lagos and Abia to ensure that Late Ashley be given a befitting burial.
6.Reach out to members to contribute generously towards the burial ceremony
The committee was supposed to be funded by the National body of AGN, but since fund was not available in the National account, we were made to rely on funds from Lagos state chapter, which was empowered to levy its members towards the burial ceremonies.
The National President gave the committee the sum of =N=50,000 (Fifty thousand Naira) to kick start the burial plans.
The fifty thousand naira was handed over to the Chairman, Lagos state chapter of AGN since the chapter was saddled with running the expenses. The money was used as deposit for the T-shirts.
No other fund was given to the committee for the burial activities.
The committee met only once within the three weeks of its life span with the following persons in attendance, Messrs. Abubakar Yakubu, Chairman, Emeka Rising Ibeh, Chairman Lagos chapter and Emeka Enyiocha, members respectively. The only issue discussed at the meeting was the approval of the amount of money to be paid as burial levy.
1.A List stars =N=5,000 and above
2.Others =N=1,000 minimum
I also met with Mr. Frank Dallas once at a separate time, but never met with the Secretary, Donald Okoli. I only got a report from the Lagos state chapter Chairman, Mr Emeka Rising Ibeh that Mr Okoli was helping the state chapter to collect money from members. During my meeting with Mr. Dallas, he took permission to be excused from our regular meetings as he was in a mourning period for late Ashley Nwosu who was his uncle; but pledged his support whenever needed. I was consistently sending out text messages to members for us to meet, even when the President summoned the committee for a final briefing before the service of songs night, no one turned up except the Chairman and the Lagos chapter chairman.
I was in constant contact with the Lagos State Chairman, Mr Ibeh to get updates on things that the chapter was funding for the Candle light Night. I also spoke extensively on the phone with Emeka Enyiocha on Wednesday, 8th june 2011 when he demanded to know how much was realized and the amount budgeted for late Ashley's family and widow. I told him that the committee had not received the financial report from Lagos Chapter authorized to collect the levy and the contributions. The discussion almost turned into an argument as I tried to make him understand the limitations of the powers of the committee in the disbursement of funds. I equally urged him to pay up his levy as the state chapter reported that he was yet to pay. We concluded that the committee would meet in Umuahia before the funeral ceremony.
The committee was not empowered by the National Executive Council to receive donations/levies from members and or the public towards the burial activities. Only Lagos State Chapter was authorized to receive levies and donations. In fact, there was no formal letter of appointment setting up the committee from the NEC up till date, but we functioned with the verbal pronouncement of the President in setting up the committee and with firm resolve to give late Ashley Nwosu a befitting burial. This abnormally was reported to the President and at some point I threatened to quit but he encouraged me to go on since the objective was to give late Ashley a well deserved burial.
SERVICE OF SONGS/CANDLE LIGHT NIGHT
To ensure a successful hosting of service of songs and candle light night, the committee wrote a passionate letter of invitation and plea for donations toward the event to all A-List stars. The letter was signed by the National President and Chairman Lagos state Chapter.
Also the committee wrote to the management of O'Jez Restaurant, National Stadium and requested to use their car park for the service of songs and with the help of the National President; the venue was given to us free of charge.
The committee received the following items for the service of songs night.
1.Two Canopies for the Band - Courtesy Lagos state Chapter
2.A large Banner of the deceased - Courtesy National President
3.Live band and P.A.S - Courtesy National President
4.Chairs - Courtesy O'Jez Restaurant
5.Bottled and pure water - Courtesy So safe Water
6.Meat pie - Courtesy Lagos state chapter
7.Candles - Courtesy Lagos state chapter
8.AGN Choir - Courtesy Lagos state chapter
9.T-Shirts - Courtesy Lagos state chapter
10.Program of Event - Courtesy Lagos state chapter
11.MC - Courtesy Lagos state chapter
12.Security - Courtesy Lagos state chapter
13.Pastor - Courtesy Lagos state chapter
14.Media coverage - Courtesy Lagos state chapter
15.Video Coverage - Kiss Event/National President
The service of songs and candle light night was held on the 2nd of June 2011, from 5pm – 9pm and was well attended by who is who in the motion picture industry aka Nollywood. Also the deceased immediate family, brothers, sisters, uncles and members of his clan were in attendance.
After the event, I asked the Chairman, Lagos state chapter to give the committee the total expenses for the service of songs and candle light night for our record, but he requested that we wait till the end of the burial activities to enable him compiles a comprehensive account. The committee could not meet after the Service of songs night as I travelled to Port Harcourt, Abia and Imo states respectively on official assignment. I returned on the 7th June, 2011 only to embark on another official trip to Abuja on the 8th June, 2011 before going for the burial on 10th June 2011.
To ensure massive participation of members in the final burial ceremony, the committee in conjunction with the National secretariat mobilized all the Chapters in the Eastern zone including Bayelsa and Rivers state chapters to attend the burial ceremony massively with their members in Umuahia. Of particular interest was the Bayelsa State chapter that promised and attended, the burial ceremony with 30 members including a dance troupe
FINAL BURIAL UMUAHIA, ABIA STATE, 10th – 11th June 2011
The National delegation was led by the National Secretary of AGN and included myself and some states chapter chairmen.We were picked up from Owerri airport by the Chairman of Abia State chapter and some of his Exco members on Friday 10/06/2011, at about 1.45pm. We drove to Umuahia town where we met a picked up Chidi Arouma before we headed to Late Ashley Nwosu's Village.
We arrived at the Late Nwosu's compound at about past 4pm and met with his siblings and other members of the family including wife and children.
While in the village, Igwe Ben came to meet us in the deceased compound and also joined us.
We were briefed of the burial plans by his elder brother who served as the head of the family. He informed us of the wake keep scheduled for 10pm -12midnight. He told us that (all night) wake keep was not allowed in Umuahia and its environs. He excused us from attending the Wake keep since we have travelled a long distance, showing pity to us, he advised that we should rest that night, we mounted our flex banner and inspected all facilities provided for the burial. The Head of the family also informed us that Mr. Ejike Asiegbu former President of AGN, had informed him of our coming.
We left the village at about 7 pm to secure hotel accommodation in a nearby town. As we are settling down in the hotel, the Bayelsan contingents arrived in their 30 setter bus. All efforts to get a discounted rate for them in the hotel proved abortive. They were led to another hotel where they got lower room rates by a Good Samaritan. The Abia Chairman and some of his Excos departed for Aba with their bus so there was no means of transportation for the committee members, National Excos and chairmen. I called Emeka Enyiocha severally that night but he never picked his call and did not return the call.
Saturday 11th June, we woke up at about 6.30am, when the Bayelsan contingents came to inform us that there were leaving for the Late Ashley's village to commiserate with the family for one hour before departing for Yenegoa that morning, because of traffic jam in Port Harcourt. We advised them to use Owerri road, which is shorter and traffic free. We also pleaded with them to wait, so that we can all go in convoy. Breakfast was provided for them by the committee. Ms Obot Etuk also came to meet us at the hotel about 7am.
Due to some logistic problems and hitches, we left the hotel at about past 12noon and arrived at the burial venue at 1pm in a convoy that included AGN Abia, Imo and Bayelsa states Execos, members, camera crew, National Exco representatives, Obot Etuk, Ibinabo Fiberisinma who met us on the road and others.
We disembarked from the bus and walked into the field where the funeral service was going on; we noticed free chairs under a canopy, as the canopy reserved for artistes was fully occupied, we were stopped midway to the free canopy by the Fmr President of AGN, Mr. Ejike Asiegbu, who informed us that it was reserved for the State Governor and his entourage. He persuaded us to go and find somewhere else to sit as we were already late for the event and the funeral service was already going on he, concluded.
Members of our entourage pleaded with him to allow the Representative of the National President and the States chairmen to sit there, while others will go and find where to sit or stand.
Messrs. Emeka Enyiocha and Steve Eboh joined Mr Asiegbu in asking us to leave the field. Tempers began to rise and parties started exchanging words. Finally we moved out of the field.
The National Secretary and the States chairmen went to stand under a tree while other members of the entourage dispersed into the crowd.
At that point, I went into the field to take photographs and assist in the funeral service.
Mr. Asiegbu came to register his disappointment in me and the National President, not to have deemed it fit to call him over Ashley's death knowing too well that he is close to the Govt.
I informed him that the National President, Segun Arinze called him on two occasions and he never picked his call and that he even sent a text message which was not acknowledged. He said he never saw anything on his phone. I tendered an apology for that.
The funeral ceremony went on smoothly from that point till the Governor eventually came and left.
It was during the vote of thanks that some of us heard that the Governor provided transport fare, accommodation, welfare, internal transport and security for artistes. I asked Messrs Eboh and Enyiocha why they did not inform us that Govt, provided all of the above for artistes.
Mr. Eboh said he never knew that I was in Umuahia for the burial while Enyiocha just kept mute.
After the funeral service, representatives of AGN National were requested to escort the corpse to the grave side for the final burial rites. We followed and witnessed his final journey into the grave amidst tears. It was an emotional moment for all.
After the burial, we waited for the presentation of gifts ceremony as it is with Igbo burial tradition, meanwhile our colleagues including Emeka Enyiocha, a member of the burial commitee left before we returned from the grave side without informing us of their destination. I called Mr. Enyiocha severally to join in the presentation of gifts but did not pick the calls.
Having waited for over thirty minutes for the family to decide on where the presentation would take place, rain started to drizzle. We quickly arranged the gift items and took them to the family house where it was presented to the representative of the family, Late Ashley's elder brother.
Meanwhile, the Chairman Lagos state Chapter kept $500 with me since Wednesday 8 June, 2011. He told me it was donated by Genevieve Nnaji to be given to Ashley's widow.
The Chairman could not make the presentation to her as the room was over crowded and she was emotionally down cast and also crying.
The chairman Lagos state chapter informed her that the State has a package for her and that it would be delivered to her in Lagos when she returns. She agreed and we departed the village in a heavy down pour. Please find attached photographs personally taken both at the funeral service and burial ceremony.
While I was in my hotel room in Asaba later that night, I was informed that Abia State Governor gave all the Artistes that attended the burial ceremony N4 million for their transport fare. He also hosted them to a state banquet in Govt., House Umuahia.
I arrived in Lagos only to start receiving calls from people including friends that we embezzled 600,000 naira contributed for Ashley's burial and that we did not even participate in all the burial activities.
I wish to state categorically, that I did not follow them to the mortuary and attend the lying in state because of my religious belief as a Muslim.
I also want to state again that as chairman of the burial Committee, I was not empowered to receive and or disburse funds for the late Ashley Nwosu's burial and until I receive the account details from the Chairman, Lagos Chapter, I cannot disclose how much was received and spent.
First and foremost, I would like to thank the President of Actors Guild of Nigeria, Mr. Segun Arinze for the opportunity given me to serve my Guild in this capacity against all odds.
There were abnormalities though, but he encouraged me greatly.
I will strongly advise that only committed members who are willing to serve the Guild should be given responsibilities in future.
Administrative procedures must be followed religiously to prevent loopholes or abnormalities in a constituted authority.
Finally, The Chairman Lagos state chapter, custodian of all the funds collected has assured me that all the monies received are intact and proper account would be given.
Long Live AGN!
Abubakar Sanusi Yakubu
Cc: Ag, Chairman & Secretary, Board of Trustees, AGN
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