By Zik Zulu Okafor
Only recently he opened a 118 bedroom exotic hotel named Dantinajo Gold Resort. It was commissioned by Nigeria’s former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. It was in a quaint modest town, Oleh, in Isoko South Local Government Area, LGA, Delta State.
Now the hotel has become the Mecca of Nollywood superstars and practitioners of distinction. And every practitioner that visits leaves with both material and spiritual satisfaction. The big heart behind the resort gives financial. He gives advice. He gives hope. And he laces all with spiritual counseling.
This is Engineer Daniel Elozino Omoyibo. Breezy at sight and full of zest, Omoyibo is writing a new page in the unfolding tale of Nigeria’s motion picture industry.
Only a few weeks ago, he hosted a galaxy of Nollywood’s directors and actors as he was formally made Patron of the Directors Guild of Nigeria, DGN, under the leadership of its peerless National President, Fred Amata. The event turned out not only a checklist of Who is Who in Directing but a catalogue of star actors and perhaps cheer leaders. They include Fred Amata, Francis Onwochei, Hilda Dokubo, Eucharia Anunobi, Kanayo O. Kanayo, Ejike Asiegbu, Francis Duru, Patience Ozokwor, Zeb Ejiro, Mathias Obahiagbon, Chinedu Ikedieze, Abay Esho, Osita Okoli, Chico Ejiro and Andy Amenechi among others.
Beyond the enchanting rituals of patronship, perhaps the most enthralling news at the event was Omoyibo’s announcement of his plan to build a Film Village at Oleh. He had already acquired some massive acres of land stretching over three kilometers for this grand mission and he took some of his guests to the proposed site of what promises to be a delightful tourists’ haven.
In his words, “I want to leave a legacy in the movie industry because Nigerian movies taught me a lot of amazing things. I learnt so many lessons from the early Nollywood movies that I used to watch with my wife”.
He revealed watching those movies at a time that life was difficult and hope was almost epileptic. “I had become a business man then, but there were no contracts coming my way. So, from morning to night, me and my wife would sit in our small, quiet apartment and watch Nigerian movies. Those movies taught me to be patient, to keep hope alive and never to make money through evil ways because the joy will only be temporary and the end will be disastrous. The movies consistently taught us that no matter how long it might take, light would always defeat darkness and that an evil person will suffer and die in shame. Unfortunately my precious wife passed away after all our endurance, just when things started going well for us. It was painful. But I thank God that she was alive to witness our breakthrough and to enjoy at least a little bit of it.” He paused as change in his mood became palpable on those windows of his emotion-laden soul- his eyes. And his guests quickly rose in applause to cheer up a man whose entire life seems dedicated to the cause of the down-trodden, men and women confined to the lower end of the economic ladder and still grappling with the pangs of life.
Omoyibo, the Chief Executive of Damotech, an indigenous oil and gas firm, a glowing tribute to the efficacy of Nigerian Local Content Law, announced to the delight of his guests a huge financial support for their movie industry. And within minutes issued cheques to DGN executives towards plans for its 25th anniversary. The 51 year old father of three children and a business magnate with over eight companies under his corporate canopy also unleashed millions of naira to the Nollywood stars leaving them twinkling as they grinned from ear to ear. The man, now seen as an emblem of a new hope for Nollywood, had expended over N100 million in his first formal encounter with the doyens and stars of the motion picture industry.
But the buoyant and sprightly oil and gas mogul did more. He announced his plan to raise the bar of professionalism in Nollywood. To achieve this he says will require good training. Therefore he would finance young Deltans and Nigerians interested in movie production for quality training both in Nigeria and abroad. “I want them to be well trained to be able to tell our stories professionally and to be equipped technically so that our pictures are excellent and could compare with foreign movies. They may be short- term training programmes, but they will be intensive”, he said.
Omoyibo’s kind gesture towards Nollywood however is not surprising to those acquainted with his history. Indeed, he is a known passionate philanthropist. His Foundation, Damotech Foundation for the Less Privileged carries the pay-off, “Your pain is our concern”. This genuine concern is indeed demonstrated in the over 1,600 pupils that the Foundation paid their WAEC fees this year and 600 last year.
The Foundation has also given scholarship to over 300 students in both secondary and tertiary institutions. There is an empowerment programme to the tune of N100,000 for market women without any tribal discrimination as long as the market woman plies her trade within Isoko North and South LGAs. His car gifts to the men folk came in consignments of 50 and 100 cars.
Shockingly, while the enigmatic philanthropist was sharing these cars he bought none for himself except a motor bike. The height of his car gift to men came when the Delta state government under ex-Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan gave out Special Purpose Vehicles, SUV, Toyota Land Cruiser, V-6, to some traditional rulers in Delta state, but one important Royalty was snubbed. It was that of Oleh, his home town, His Royal Majesty, Anthony Williams, Onovughe Ovrawah, JP, FCI, Omogha 1, The Odio-Ologbo of Oleh Kingdom . In reaction, this revered scion of the soil, Omoyibo gave his king exactly the same car but one with a higher engine capacity- a V-8 super strength. He topped it up with a Pilot car to serve as Escort for his traditional ruler. The ovation, the story and appreciation that awesome gesture spurred, still remain familiar acoustics in almost every home in Oleh.
Still, his Foundation pays medical bills for the sick, in addition to a major housing programme that builds and hands over bungalows and duplexes to men, women, widows and families.
His Royal Majesty, Anthony Williams Ovrawah, in a flowing narrative gave a crystal account of how Omoyibo has touched lives in Oleh, how he footed his medical bills abroad and many community projects he had executed. For the people of Oleh, Engineer Omoyibo is putting their little town on a global map. The sheer size of his hotel, the expatriates it attracts and now the mega stars of Nollywood visiting, they say, are incredulous testaments to the silent wind of global fame blowing their town. They are proud of their eminent son whose image towers high and his influence transcending the bounds of Delta state and Nigeria to the rest of Africa.
In all, Engineer Daniel Omoyibo seems to be living up to his middle name – Elozino, for a tale is told of how his dear mother having had three boys before him was praying fervently for a girl during her fourth pregnancy. She was palpably disappointed when the baby turned out another boy. She was indeed depressed. But her husband, Daniel’s father, a man Daniel himself described as spiritually deep saw in the new baby boy, a ‘messiah’ to the family.
So he gave him the name, Elozino, which means “Light has come to our family”. And today that “Light” is indeed shinning, not only on Omoyibo’s family, town or state but also on Nigeria and surely Nollywood.