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APC will not abandon Zack Orji — Culture minister

Zack Orji, a veteran actor and a member of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, who recently underwent a brain surgery, will not be abandoned by the party, another actor, Saidi Balogun has said.

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In an interview with Saturday Beats, Balogun, who is also a member of the APC, and the assistant spokesperson of the Performing and Creative Art Directorate of the 422-man APC Presidential Campaign Council for the last elections, stated that the government was doing all it could to make sure that the actor got back on his feet.

He said, “We are doing what we can. The authorities concerned were there and they did not abandon him, they rose up to the occasion. Before we can even stretch our hands, they (party) are stretching all their body to make sure he is okay.

They will do the needful, because whatever we do, people are watching us. They are up to the task. If not, we would have heard a cry from the actor.

 

Reacting to people who criticise and Orji and other entertainers for supporting President Bola Tinubu in the run-up to the elections, Balogun said, “We get a lot of backlash. As a matter of fact, some producers no longer call us for work, because they belong to the opposition. But, before I came into the ‘war’, I was prepared. I only pray that what they are blasting me for would be fruitful to me and the people too.”

We did it for a purpose. I saw that this person (Tinubu) could help move the country forward.

Meanwhile, the First Lady, Remi Tinubu, and the wife of the vice president, Nana Shettima, visited the ailing actor at the National Hospital in Abuja on January 1, 2024.

The Minister of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa, also later visited Orji after he had been moved to a private hospital, where the actor eventually underwent the brain surgery on New Year’s Day.

In a statement signed by the minister’s Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Nneka Anibeze, Musawa called on Nigerians to support the ailing actor, describing him as a national asset and a friend to Nigerians.

He is one of the individuals who laid the foundation for Nollywood and the film industry in Nigeria, but he is now sick, and the least we can do as an administration is to give him all the necessary support through prayers and otherwise to ensure that we save his life.

The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, had also visited Orji when he was still at the National Hospital, and urged the doctors there to take good care of him.

Meanwhile, the hospital also claimed that the 64-year-old actor was moved from their facility against the wishes of the doctors.

A statement by the Chief Medical Director of the Hospital, Prof Mahmud Raji, read in part, “The attention of the National Hospital Abuja has been drawn to a publication insinuating that the apex hospital referred Orji to a private hospital in Abuja.

To set the record straight, the actor, who was brought in on New Year’s Eve and admitted to the intensive care unit, was stabilised by National Hospital and moved to the ENT ward.

Later in the day, he was transferred to the orthopaedic ward, where our surgeons began preparing him for surgery. However, the relatives of the patient signed a form, ‘Leaving Against Medical Advice’ on January 1, 2024.

Meanwhile, the President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, Emeka Rollas, claimed that he was not aware if Orji subscribed to the guild’s health insurance scheme. He said, “I have been speaking with him(Orji) since he got to the hospital, and reaching out to the governmental agency that needs to come to his aid, not in terms of finance alone, but also for moral support.

I do not know if he subscribed to the (health) scheme though. But, the person in charge of the HMO will check if he is up-to-date, and whichever hospital he chose when he signed up. There is a premium HMO, and an average one just for check-ups.”

Orji, who has been in the industry for decades, has featured in hundreds of movies as an actor and filmmaker.

However, he was lambasted by many in the build-up to the general elections in 2023, for his support of Tinubu, the then presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress.

He was subsequently appointed the Director of Performing Arts of the Presidential Campaign Council of the APC.

 

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