Nigeria has lost one of its greatest filmmakers and storyteller, Eddie Ugbomah, to the cold hand of death after months of battles from an undisclosed ailment that left him in penury and unable to pay for his medical bills.
The veteran filmmaker reportedly died on Saturday afternoon, after help came his way with friends and well-wishers putting up the Chief Eddie Ugbomah Medical Fund through he was scheduled to go for surgery on Monday.
According to Television Continental (TVC), the development was confirmed by the Chairman of the Chief Eddie Ugbomah Medical Fund Committee, and Director General of the Nigerian Films and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) Adedayo Thomas.
Ugbomah has directed and produced films such as the Rise and Fall of Oyenusi in 1979, The Boy is Good and Apalara, a film about the life and murder of Alfa Apalara in Oko Awo, Lagos.
Ugbomah is a native of Village Ashaka area Aboh in Ndokwa East Local Government of Delta State, Local Government but grew up in the Obalende and Lafiaji area of Lagos. He was educated at St Matthias, Lafiaji, Lagos and City College school.
He traveled to London for his college education and attended various colleges studying journalism, drama and later film. After studies, he worked with BBC and also played minor roles in Dr.No, Guns at Batasi and Sharpeville Massacre.
He was a member of an Afro-Caribbean drama group and directed some of the group’s plays such as; This is Our Chance, play staged at the Stoke Newington Theatre Hall.
He returned to Nigeria in 1975 and was involved in concert promotion before starting Edifosa, a film production company.
Ugbomah’s film usually tackles contemporary social and political issues. In 1979, he produced Dr Oyenusi, the film’s plot taken from the headlines is about a notorious robber, Ishola Oyenusi who terrorized Lagosians in the early 1970s.
The film also delved into the menace of armed robbery in Nigeria. Oyenusi featured Ugbomah as the lead actor. Ugbomah’s next film, The Mask, released in 1979.
The film’s material is based on looting of Africa’s artefacts by colonisers and the quest to return those artifacts back home.
In the Mask, the protagonist Obi, played by Ugbomah tries to sneak into the British Museum to steal the Benin ivory mask and return it to Nigeria. Some critics likened the character of Obi to James Bond.
Ugbomah’s career flourished into the early 1980s producing such films as Oil Doom, Bolus ’80 and The Boy is Good. Most of his films were shot in 16mm with the exception of The Mask. Later in his career Ugbomah turned to Yoruba video films.
In 1988, he was appointed chairman of the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC).