Nation Forgotten, a documentary film by filmmaker and photographer Omoregie Osakpolor, was screened for the first time to a public audience of about one hundred people on September 10th at the Alliance française centre in Ikoyi, Lagos. The film depicts the plight of former public servants in Nigeria, bemoaning pension fraud and government neglect while simultaneously battling debilitating changes to their health and lack of funds to attend to their most basic needs.
It premiered in partnership with Screen Out Loud, Lagos, an organisation that promotes independent cinema worldwide, encouraging discourse around film and the moving image.
Described as a “thought-provoking picture,” the 117-minute film drew emotional responses from the audience who saw firsthand, some for the first time, the suffering of aged public servants denied their rightful financial benefits. “I couldn’t wait till the end of the programme because I got too emotional watching that film,” shared Linus Seidougha, a Nigerian visual artist.
The audience saw several pensioners across Nigeria with touching stories, lamenting the non-payment of their gratuities, pension allowances and the troubles of living with nothing in a country where getting by is difficult for even the rich. Repeatedly, these pensioners refer to the lavish retirement benefits of political office holders who usually serve for less than a decade, in contrast to civil servants who serve for up to thirty-five years.
The film also shows pensioners reminiscing about a Nigeria of yesteryears with better working conditions for civil servants.
The screening closed with a conversation between filmmaker Osakpolor Omoregie, alongside Oyadara Gbenga, the Chairman, Osun State Contributory Pensioners, moderated by Wole Olayinka, founder and editor of Kurating–with participation from members of the audience.
Omoregie discussed the history of making the film inspired by his pensioner father. He travelled to eleven Nigerian states across all the country’s geopolitical zones, interviewing retirees.
Commending Omoregie for diligently working to produce an important film, Mr. Oyadara noted that the film should galvanise young people to seek answers from the governments that have failed to pay retirement benefits. “It will begin to mobilise our children to ask our leaders why they have made their parents suffer so much.”
Omoregie is keen to see the film become a tool for civic engagement and hopes it will kickstart essential conversations on how to solve the problems surrounding payments of retirement benefits across government tiers in Nigeria.
The film trailer is available here: https://youtu.be/BCBj6Q-vlOY