Though it was not the first time Nollywood practitioners would gather for an event of such magnitude, but this was particularly different. Veterans in the industry converged in Abuja for a press conference on an inspiring violence-based story entitled ‘I Believe’ which is about the journey of freedom for Ofure, a 35-year old woman, in an abusive and suppressive marriage, which stripped her of every self-esteem. It features National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) ambassadors like actor- turned attorney, Kenneth Okonkwo, Chika Okpala aka Chief Zebrudaya, celebrated Kannywood actor and singer Sani Danja, notable actors, Desmond Eliott and Francis Duru, Kannywood actress Ramat Hassan and popular actress, Patience Ozokwor, a s well as frontline movie marketer and producers and directors, Okey Ezugwu, Dr Onyeka Iwuchukwu, Ikechkwu Onyeka, among others.
The movie revolves around Ofure and her interaction with various men and women as she embarks on an emotional journey to free herself from slavery that her marriage has become. She discovers that these men and women are pursuing their life dreams amidst social and family challenges like she has. She soon discovers that the only weapon they all need in their battle for their dream to come through is higher education.
Speaking at the press conference in Abuja , the actors who cut across age and also double as students and NOUN ambassadors expressed appreciation to the management of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) and the former VC, Prof. Vincent Tenebe for giving them the opportunity to do something different and educative for Nigerians.
Tenebe who also featured in the movie commended the ambassadorial roles of Nollywood actors generally in the image laundering of the country and promotion of unity among Nigerians at home in the Diaspora.
He expressed appreciation to members of the association for making themselves available to be utilised for the service of the country in general, adding such gesture was the greatest sacrifice anyone could offer to make Nigeria great.
He said, “We are happy that we have Nigerians who are dedicated and offered themselves for development of this country without shifting blames to the government, the parents or traditional rulers as the case may be”.
He revealed that some of the scenes of the movie were shot without the actors even knowing there were cameras around which made it very real, adding they didn’t pay the cast and crews anything for the movie because they saw it as their civic responsibility in addressing the issue of illiteracy in the country.
Chief Zebrudaya who is also part of the institution and NOUN ambassador said no knowledge is wasted as he urged Nigerians to try NOUN because it is the easiest way of getting educated and also achieving their goals.
Ozokwor said her role in the movie was like the normal role she plays, with the difference being the education content. I Believe’ is more educational, she pointed out and urged the media to help in spreading the message about the uniqueness of the institution. The actress said the public must be made to know the benefit of not waiting for a full time university education to be educated. If as movies stars, they can make out time from their busy schedule to pursue their education, many people should be encouraged to do the same.
Nollywood actor- turned- politician, Desmond Elliott said he was happy to be an ambassador of the institution and expressed appreciation to the VC and the entire management of the NOUN for education Nigerians at their own terms and leisure.
“I’m happy to be part of the university and have been part of the institution since inception. Having lived overseas I see a lot of distance learning opportunities. Of all the ambassadorial position I have been called upon to do in the country, this is probably the one I want to show my kids and wife and I am proud of it,” he said.
Sani Danja urged that the movie be translated into various languages so it could get to those who could not understand English. Ramat Hassan, on her part, called on northerners to embrace education with the help of NOUN. She said the era of husbands stopping their wives from going to school because they are full time housewives was over with the options and choices available at NOUN.
Kenneth Okonkwo said while entertaining, the movie’s intended message was to educate and also inform. He explained that the talk about the movie getting to the public was not for financial benefit but for it to reach the last man in the village so people could understand that the movie was made for them.
The producer Okey Ezugwu disclosed that more than 60 cast and crew were involved in the production of ‘I Believe.”