Junior Pope: AGN Blacklisting Adanma Luke In Bad Taste

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The reported decision by the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN) to blacklist Adanma Luke, in view of the recent mishap, is arguably in bad taste. The passing of Junior Pope and others is a major loss to the industry, but it goes without saying that the incident has negatively impacted Adanma, too. Everything she had put into that work is currently in ruins.

Does anyone need to emphasise the fact that she didn’t orchestrate this unfortunate occurrence? She hired the boat, but that does not mean she also compromised the safety of people she needed badly.

But above all arguments is the fact that we are first responsible for our safety and security at all times and in every situation. It therefore confounds logic that anyone would get on a boat without a safety jacket.

Let’s even admit for argument purposes that the producer tried to compromise in some areas to cut costs. Should anyone stoop to something that visibly threatens their existence? Getting on the boat without a jacket seems like a wilful attempt at suicide. Let’s say it the way it is. No excuses will suffice in the estimation of an objective consideration.

In 2008, I traveled to Sudan on the invitation of the Sudanese government. The essence of the trip was to come see the state of the country in spite of the war, which had peaked at the time. They wanted another perspective, albeit objective, to the reportage of the Western media. Therefore, we were to visit just the capital, Khartoum.

After three days in Khartoum, our hosts mooted the idea of visiting South Sudan, one of the war theatres, to corroborate their narrative, but I immediately declined with an emphatic no. They did everything to persuade me, but I refused to yield. They had to call my Lagos office, and my office made them undertake that I’d return to Nigeria safe. It was after this, and a call directly made to me from the office that I embarked on the trip.

Curiously, I was the only one who protested this decision. Journalists from other parts of the world had no problem with the idea. But I knew reporting wars required special training, which I didn’t have. Thus, wisdom dictated to me immediately the need to be circumspect.

Indeed, my experience in South Sudan wasn’t palatable, but I also saw clear effort on the part of my hosts to make sure we were safe. The sounds of sporadic gunshots couldn’t let me sleep all night. But they ensured our safety as promised.

Taking away from this, who gets on a boat without a safety jacket? Did they need the producer on the ground to enforce that before looking out for themselves? Interestingly, new evidence has shown that the crew members were actually provided with life jackets but dumped them to make videos for the “gram”.

Other decisions by the AGN to temporarily suspend filming in riverine areas, including honouring the deceased, are good. But to blacklist the producer by asking actors to stay away from her set is unfair and in bad taste. Methinks!

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