The Director of Communications for the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Kate Henshaw, on Friday, has reacted to accusations that the guild abandoned actor John Okafor, widely known as Mr Ibu, amid health struggles.
Voiceofnaija.ng, on Wednesday, reported how the 62-year-old “Police Recruit” star opened up about his battle with “a strange and dangerous illness”, explaining that his doctors have recommended the amputation of his legs.
However, Mr Ibu’s health condition has raised several concerns.
While Nollywood actors have rallied around their ailing colleagues, some Nigerians have raised concerns about the numerous cases of Nollywood veterans seeking financial assistance.
Reno Omokri, Uche Maduagwu and Martins-Vincent Otse, also known as VeryDarkMan, have criticised the AGN and other Nollywood actors for not coming to the actor’s aid.
Nollywood actor cum lawyer Kanayo O Kanayo slammed critics for their ‘insensitive remarks’. He warned them to refrain from using Mr Ibu’s health situation as a platform to find relevance or trends.
However, on Friday, in a video posted on the guild’s Instagram page, Kate Henshaw, the AGN’s director of communications, made a compelling statement concerning the health struggles of the veteran actor.
She also assured the public and their members that the guild has always been steadfast in its commitment to supporting those in need, particularly when it comes to health issues.
Henshaw emphasised that their aid was extended to Mr Ibu even before he disclosed his health condition, with the full consent and knowledge of his immediate family.
Contrary to rumours, the AGN vehemently denied any allegations of neglecting their ailing member, Mr Ibu, who took to Instagram this week to make a heartfelt plea for financial assistance.
In a brief statement, Henshaw stated that the Guild needed to clarify its stance amidst the health issues of Mr Ibu.
She said, “It is necessary to set the records straight over the public outcry about the AGN abandoning Mr Ibu. The Guild has never abandoned any of its members, especially those with health interventions. We’ve been at the forefront of providing necessary support for Mr Ibu even before his health condition was made public. And this was done with full knowledge of his immediate family.”
“We’ve had to task members privately to help assist with our intervention for his health issues. But it would be wrong to make it public knowledge of any form of assistance we provide to our members in need.”
The Nollywood actress also noted that the guild has a Healthcare/Welfare plan for all its members, which they could all key into.
She said: “Ordinarily, we wouldn’t have blinked an eye about this Mr Ibu issue, but it has become imperative we do, going by some of the vituperations online by netizens.
“We have an HMO plan with over 600 hospitals nationwide secured by the Guild’s President, Emeka Rollas. This is to help our members access qualitative medications and healthcare at N1,600 per month or 22,200 annually.”
She also announced the existence of a trust fund designed to assist actors facing diverse health challenges, as well as the family members of those who have suffered losses.
She added, “We have also established a trust fund to support the sick, incapacitated, and bereaved family members, overseen by Joke Silva.
“The funds within the trust are contributions from fellow guild members, and there is a dedicated committee responsible for disbursing these funds when needed, either to our members or their families.”
Mr Ibu sought financial assistance a day after he turned 62 at an undisclosed hospital in Lagos.