By Ayo Adams
VETERAN Comedian, Babatunde Omidina known as Baba Suwe is a movie icon who has made indelible marks in the industry for over two decades. Consequently, his effortless ability to bring smiles to the faces of fans and movie enthusiasts, especially the Yoruba speaking audience has sealed his reputation as one of the best comic acts to grace the ever-expanding Nollywood industry.
He is currently said to be suffering from an undisclosed ailment and a video of him talking about his poor state of health and soliciting for help has gone viral.
Baba Suwe, native of Ikorodu Local government, Lagos Sate started his film career in 1972, featuring in and producing numerous movies such as Oluweri Magbojo, Laarinlodu, Obelomo, Elebolo including, Baba Jaye Jaye – one of his most popular flicks starring Funke Akindele, Femi Adebayo among others.
He has also acted alongside veterans such as Dele Odule, Bolaji Amusan, Toyin Adegbola, Sola Sobowale, Adebayo Salami, Madam Saje and a host of others.
Despite fame and dividends of limelight to his name, Baba Suwe witnessed one event that would turn his career around in 2011, when he found himself in the net of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency ( NDLEA) .
The 61-year old was arrested on assumption that he was in possession of hard drugs believed to be cocaine. While he was at the NDLEA’s for more than two weeks, he was subjected to public humiliation and at the end of it all, the court vindicated him, ordering that he be paid the sum of N25 million for his unlawful detention.
After his ordeal with the operatives of NDLEA, film enthusiasts anticipated a come back of Baba Suwe to the Nollywood scene, but this expectation didn’t live up to the hype. Producer, Yomi Fabiyi broke the news of the deteriorating health of the veteran in an Instagram post two years ago.
“On Baba Suwe, I am calling on all senior colleagues in the entertainment world especially those close to Baba Suwe because I don’t have everyone’s contact to please reachout to him ASAP (As Soon As Possible),’’ the actor wrote on his Instagram wall.
“The torture done on him by NDLEA is vastly damaging his health at an alarming rate.
“He told me he no longer feel comfortable since that episode. Baba Suwe is a widower, he can hardly walk properly as I speak, let alone go to film.” Fabiyi narrated.
However, Baba Suwe countered Fabiyi’s narration in same year, debunking news of ill health. “My health is perfectly fine, I don’t want anybody to worry about me,” he said. Adding, “a lot of people have been calling me about the issue all day what Yomi put out is a very old story.” He told TheNetng.
With the issue of his health recurring in 2019, it is obvious Baba Suwe may not have provision for lifetime health insurance, and this extends to other actors, young and old.
When faced by health challenge, the first place most Nigerian thespians run to is social media to seek for sympathy and financial support. In some cases, other buoyant actors lend their voices to the affected colleagues only when it is brought to the public eye.
Reacting to the news that the film association has abandoned one of their own, Bolaji Amusan (Mr Latin) narrated that they have been sorting the actor’s medical bills since 2017, he said “I have just instructed the Lagos State executive of the association to check on him (Baba Suwe) to ascertain his health progress. I can tell you that we have not abandoned him, as well as any of our members, as being speculated in some quarters by mischief-makers.”
A video which is currently in circulation on social media, has Baba Suwe narrating his current state of health, soliciting public help and also revealing that he may have been battling partial stroke.
Some of the celebrities whose attention has also been drawn to this issue have started showing support to the veteran, either by crowdfunding or donating to him. Also, some actors have found themselves suffering heavy backlash from fans who believed they have done nothing to support Baba Suwe.
However, a top Nollywood stakeholder who spoke on the current state of Baba Suwe and the industry’s impact, said “Baba Suwe is only looking for sympathy, I and some other members do give Baba Suwe money on personal grounds. I am sad that Baba Suwe is used his ailments to paint the industry.”
“Baba Suwe has diabetes and high blood pressure, not stroke as people have been misinformed,”he concluded.