By Gbenga Bada
NIGERIAN-AMERICAN filmmaker Ose Oyamendan has teamed up with three-time Academy Award winner, Mark Jonathan Harris, for a documentary film about the June 12, 1993 election, ‘M.K.O. – Waiting for Mr. President.’
The partnership will see Harris bringing in his weight and valuable experience as the executive producer while Oyamendan takes on the role of the upcoming film’s director.
Harris leads an impressive crew that includes industry veteran and award-winning producer, Veronique Bernard and one of the world’s best documentary film editors, Monique Zavistovski. The film which has been in production for a few years is slated for release in 2022.
In May, ‘MKO: Waiting for Mr. President’ was formally unveiled at two of the biggest pitch forums in the film industry. It made its debut at the Hotdocs Forum in Toronto, Canada in early May and the Docs Barcelona pitching forum in Spain. At both forums, ‘MKO: Waiting for Mr. President’ was one of the most talked-about projects and is now one of the most anticipated films in the film industry in 2022.
Harris expressed his delight at working with Oyamendan saying, “Ose often takes on very deep and complicated stories. I have been pushing him for years to tell a great African story, something from his background. When he finally told me about this project, I was completely blown away. If it was fiction, it would be a blockbuster. As a true story, it’s many times bigger. I knew immediately that this is a story that has to be told. Ose is the best person I know who can do it justice and I will do all I can to help tell it.”
The documentary, according to a statement from Oyamendan, features all the key players in the saga that shook Nigeria to her roots.
“Some of the interviewees include General Ibrahim Babangida who annulled the election, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe who was Abiola’s running mate, Ambassador Tom Pickering who led the American delegation to the fatal meeting with Abiola, General Abdulsalam Abubakar who was the head of state at the time of Abiola’s death, Ambassador Walter Carrington, the American ambassador in Nigeria during the crisis, Professor Wole Soyinka, a key leader of the opposition to the military, Professor Humphrey Nwosu, the NEC chairman, Chief Arthur Nzeribe whose lawsuits undermined the election, members of Abiola’s family, retired military officers, politicians, diplomats, and foreign journalists,” the statement reads.
Ose draws on his experience working as a journalist at the time of the elections and crisis, and at Amnesty International USA at the height of the foreign battle for democracy in Nigeria to tell a story with unrivaled access. For the first time, the film reveals what happened in some of the darkest years in Nigeria’s history.