Ralph Nwadike: Enter The New AMP ‘President And Producer-In-Chief’
HE has put in over 34 years as a motion picture practitioner. If Ralph Nwadike were a civil servant for instance, he would probably have risen to the position of director and should be embarking on pre-retirement leave now. If he was in the Army, he would probably, at least with his accomplishments, be retiring as a four star general. But fortunately and unfortunately, ‘Uncle Ralph’, as junior colleagues call him, is an icon in a profession where there is no retirement. People make films as long as they can breathe and Ralph is one person who says he will continue to be devoted to motion picture practice as long as his creator permits.
A veteran filmmaker and one of those in the professional class, Ralph is not one of those ‘soap box’ practitioners—those who want to be seen on television, heard on radio and read in prints, but it does not make him less an important figure in the Nigerian motion picture firmament. In fact, the history of the Nigerian motion picture industry, especially the transition from television production to production of movies on video, would not be complete without a mention of Ralph who is clearly an icon and a television production adherent.
Loved, admired and respected by many for his usual calm and cheerful disposition and his humility, Ralph it was, who alongside a few people such as Lola Fani Kayode, Zeb Ejiro and Amaka Igwe, made television programmes especially soaps and series worth watching in the 90s. Many will recall how tons and tons of viewers stayed at home on Sundays then to watch soaps like Fortune, Mega Fortune and Palace, which Ralph wrote and produced. This was long before Nollywood was born. So, even before the birth of Nollywood, Ralph had become a historic figure.
But that is even one part of the story about the writer, producer and director. The other story about him that is not so much in print is that most of today’s golden men and women of Nollywood owe their emergence onto the scene to Ralph Nwadike’s talent spotting abilities. Perhaps not many followers of the motion picture vocation in Nigeria know that it was it was Ralph who gave the deep actor Segun Arinze, and former President of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP) Paul Obazele their first major break on television. Also, it was Ralph that discovered Nigeria’s biggest female act Genevieve Nnaji. Similarly, It was Ralph that discovered industry raves such as Ibinabo Fiberisima, Regina Askia, Liz Benson, Ayo Adesanya, Foluke Daramola, Blessing Effiom Egbe, Dolly Onachukwu, Ramsey Nouah, Pat Attah, Emeka Ike, Ernest Obi, Femi Brainard, Funsho Adeolu, Jayke Aenan, Okey Bakasi and the late J.T Tom West.
From television, Ralph stormed Nollywood in the 90s too and there again he showed stuff. Nearly every movie he signed including Most Wanted, Contractors, Asylum, Magic Moment, Camouflage, Body of Vengeance, and Armageddon King turned out successful. In fact, Most Wanted, one of the 25 movies he has signed as a producer is reputed as the first home video to ‘sell over a million copies’. The movie featured Regina Askia, Ibinabo Fiberima, Ayo Adesanya, Genevieve Nnaji and Bisola Fadayomi in lead roles and it is still one of the very few all-female gangster movies that have been made in Nollywood, yet.
Said to be generous, kind and unpretentiously friendly, Ralph got the right icing on his career cake just this Monday when he was elected as President of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP). The filmmaker who earned credits as a script writer on some of Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) defunct series like The Village Headmaster, Second Chance, The Masquerade and Tele movies defeated the producer and writer, Lilian Amah-Aluko to emerge President in an election that was conducted at the AMP Secretariat on Monday December 7. Ralph is to succeed the producer and award-winning writer and journalist, Zik Zulu Okafor who has since served out his tenure.
An elated Ralph Nwadike took to social media minutes after the election to offer an acceptance speech. He said: ‘’Celebrate God with me. I am the new AMP President. Our God wrote a new story concerning my career. He made it possible for my fellow Producers to elect me their new President. It didn’t come easy. But He made all crocked paths straight. I am grateful for the new responsibilities the Creator of heaven and earth has placed in my hands. I want to appreciate my colleague, Lilian Ama-Aluko, who put up a brilliant fight. There is no winner and there is no vanquished. The race to the top of AMP ladder was between two committed producers who were determined to make Nollywood and our AMP a better industry we all can be proud of. To this, l say thank you Lillian. The night of the elections is here, tomorrow by God’s grace, a new dawn begins. To my campaign team headed by the indefatigable Famous Walter McRoy Otakponmwen, my out-going President Zik Zulu Okafor, my colleagues who voted for me and my executive team – Chinasa Joy Onyechere (Vice President) Forster Ojehonmon (Sec General) Grace Edwin Okon (Financial Sec) Blessing Effiom Egbe (Treasurer), Remi Ibilola Olatunji (PRO) Wisdom Nwankwo (Publicity Sec), I thank you all’’.
Congratulatory messages have not stopped pouring in for the new AMP President who many delegates to the AMP election described as ‘a bridge builder’, ‘a team player’, ‘the President that AMP needs at this time’ and the ‘change factor that AMP needs at this time’. But in a post-election chat with The Guardian, the new AMP boss said his immediate task would be to unite members and bring all aggrieved members of the AMP back to the fold. “We shall embark on reconciliation and resolution of disputes. I will lead a team that will work at bringing back all aggrieved AMP members to a common table to address their grievances and ensure full reconciliation. AMP has to be one big family,’’ he said.
Also, the new AMP boss promised to take AMP “to the corporate world” so that they can form a beneficial alliance. He also pledged that his executive would in the next two years establish a welfare fund for AMP members and that they will also revive the moribund AMP health insurance scheme through partnership with corporate organizations. According to him, the welfare fund will be disbursed to members as “welfare loan or emergency care loan” that will be given to members on a short-term basis to deal with emergencies. But more importantly, Nwadike hinted of plans to set up a production fund where members can source short-term loans to produce movies and soaps. ‘’AMP members need to start producing movies and soaps now!’’, he declared.
So is Nwadike willing to shut down production for the next two years for AMP duties? He is reminded that being an AMP president is almost like taking up a full-time job. ‘’I will still find time to crank the camera, but I will give more time to making AMP work. This is my life. I have been in production for 34 years now so if I don’t give it my time, who will? So I will manage my time and at the same time I don’t want to disappoint all those who reposed confidence in my ability to be the change that AMP needs and by the grace of God, I and my team won’t disappoint’
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