Veteran Nollywood actor, Victor Olaotan, best known for his role as Fred Ade-Williams in the popular TV series, Tinsel, has been bedridden for five years after he was involved in a ghastly accident.
The actor was driving to a movie set in 2016 when the accident took place around Apple Junction, in Festac, Lagos.
He has also been battling for his life in a Turkish hospital for almost three years.
Veteran Nollywood actor, Victor Olaotan
In 2018, the actor requested financial aid to facilitate his treatments outside the country, after two years of being incapacitated. Shortly after, Nigerian billionaire, Femi Otedola, agreed to settle his bill of about N39m.
The actor’s wife confirmed that the money was paid directly into the account of the hospital in Turkey.
Three years ago, it was reported that the actor required financial assistance to receive medical treatment outside Nigeria in a bid to avert the amputation of his legs.
In this interview , the wife of the 69-year-old actor, Julia Olaotan, talked about how the need for a second phase of the medical procedure came and how the hospital is threatening to throw her husband out because she could not pay for the second procedure.
PT: What is the update on your husband’s health?
MRS OLAOTAN: Medically, he is improving, and there has been a lot of improvement. His recent picture was what was used to do his birthday wish on social media so there has been a lot of improvement.
The major challenge is financial and that has been a struggle. We have come out occasionally to ask for funds and we are not ignorant to the fact that there are challenges. With the COVID pandemic, everybody has been affected, locally and internationally. But I have bills to pay. His hospital bill is $7,500 a month, and the main reason he is there, I actually haven’t done it, is to get his procedure done. We have done the first stage of the medical procedure, it was that first phase that Mr Otedola paid for.
When Otedola paid that bill, the bill that the hospital sent, he paid everything, every single dime that was on that bill.
Since I had never been in that situation before then, it was until we got there (Turkey) that we realised that we needed much more than what we were told we needed. They gave us bills for just one stage of his treatment, on getting there, they now gave us a bill for the second stage. That was when I freaked out and I was like wow, where am I going to see this kind of money? Unfortunately, he had already been flown out of the country. So he was already stranded there and he has to do the second procedure so that he can return.
I am stuck now, because now, he is taking daily treatment which is regular physiotherapy, care, food, drugs, and all but the main reason he is there. We have not been able to raise the funds and the debts are piling up. As of last month, it was 70,000 in US dollars and if I add the bill for February now, that is 70,000 plus another 7,500 USD. It is only God that can deliver me.
Now, there are some documents that I have been sent because they have been threatening me all these while that they are going to take legal actions but I have just been waiting. I said well, if it is jail they want to send me to because at this point, we have appealed and people have given what they can give. People have been a blessing, we did the GoFundMe, and the money was also used up.
I was reading something yesterday where someone was asking why I didn’t cut costs by being the caregiver. I don’t mind to cut cost but he has a caregiver and the hospital specified that must have medical experience because, in his situation, you need a medical person to handle him. They have nurses and all that but there must be somebody on my side that pays attention to what is being done to him.
PT: Is there any family member with him at all?
MRS OLAOTAN: No, apart from his caregiver. The guy has been with him since the accident. We went with his caregiver who was with him even when he had the accident. He was with him in the hospital here in Nigeria. He has come to understand his case inside out.
PT: When was the last time you saw him?
MRS OLAOTAN: Since I came back in May 2019, I have not been able to go back. I have not seen him since 2019, I only talk to him on video calls.
Veteran Nollywood actor, Victor Olaotan
The reason is that if I go there, once they see me if I am owing you so much, won’t you think that they will think I have come to pay his hospital bills? I can’t arrive and be seeing bills that I have not paid. It is riskier for me to go empty-handed just because I want to see him and now get tied up there. I may have to go through legal battles out there and I have children.
Going there would even translate to incurring more bills because first and foremost, there is COVID and I have to isolate in an apartment and pay the bills before I am allowed into the hospital. Throughout the COVID period, the hospital has said I would not be allowed into the hospital premises.
PT: How has this experience affected you personally?
MRS OLAOTAN: It’s been very trying for me, I won’t lie to you. At a point, I thought I was strong and I could handle this but right now, I don’t know. Sometimes, I just lose hope but the thought of my children has kept me going and when we called him recently, he has been looking better.
He is getting better but he also needs his family to reassure him and give him reasons to hang on and keep fighting.
His doctor had told us that I need to come around with his children because, in spite of his treatments, he needs to have a reason to want to live, he needs to have a reason to fight. But I am here struggling to pay his bills, how can I afford to travel with the children?
PT: What is the hospital saying now?
MRS OLAOTAN: I have been told that since I am refusing to pay the bills, they will be forced to dump him at the Nigerian Embassy in Turkey and from the Embassy, I should do whatever I want to do with him. My fear is that that would mean that the battle will be lost. I am not sure any sick person wants to find themselves in that kind of trauma where you are homeless as a sick man in a strange land.
I don’t know if that is still a threat because they have sent me some documents to sign and when I showed it to lawyers, they said the documents mean that they are looking for what they can legally hold on to. It is a legal document absolving them of any kind of responsibility. They want me to sign it and send it back to them.
PT: So, who has been footing some of his bills so far?
Mrs Olaotan: It is actually the agency that we went through. They arranged his treatment and they have been wonderful because when the hospital was still treating him, they were paying his bills. Now, the hospital said they have taken him off his personal ventilator that they use for his lungs because of COVID. The hospital has sent a message that they have withdrawn his own. It is used for his breathing and since I am not paying bills, where will they see money to get it for him?
They have only informed me of their plans that if I am not forthcoming with my bills, they will be forced to take him in an ambulance and dump him at the Nigerian embassy because they are not legally bound to take care of him.
It is irresponsible of me that is how I look at it. Starting this was a good initiative and I beg God that people have given. You see, when I receive an alert of N500, it breaks my heart. It means for somebody who is sending you N500, the person is saying I wish I could do more, the person is saying I want to be a part of this thing concerning this person. So, I look back and say, people who have given their last, is this where it is going to end?
I don’t know where to go to. It is like I have reached my last bus stop. I don’t know who else to talk to. And I have to pretend to my children that everything is fine. When they come to me and say, “Mummy, what are we going to do about daddy?” I would smile and tell them all is well. But we are grateful to God that he is still alive.
We cannot even bring him back to the country without clearing the bills already on ground. I am stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. If I decide I want to bring him back, the cost of bringing him will be like the cost of taking him there in the first place. The whole effort now is just for him to complete the second procedure so that he can come back home.
Veteran Nollywood actor, Victor Olaotan
PT: Have his colleagues been keeping in touch?
MRS ODUTAN: They are keeping in touch. They are responsible for all the social media posts and updates. All the people in Tinsel are the ones that have been running around to make sure that the story is always on social media and people are contributing. The person who facilitated the GoFundMe was Gbenro Ajibade and RMD took it up from there through Otedola.
I think one of the challenges we had was when we went to town announcing that Otedola has picked up all of his bills. I had a few people that called me to say I am not sure you know what is wrong with your husband, you can never say that you have enough. Even if truthfully the money is okay, what about post-medical when he returns? But I was looking at it like what are these people saying?
Sometimes I just feel like taking a long walk to nowhere. I wake most mornings to their calls. When I see the calls, my BP just skyrockets and I start to feel headaches. So I just feel like taking a long walk but when I take that walk, will I not come back?
Meanwhile, while I worry about the big money, there are people who pray for us and randomly think about us and wonder if we have had anything to eat and just bring stuff for us. It mostly happens at the point where I don’t know where the next provision would come from. It would just come out of the blue from people saying I was just thinking about you.
Account details Victor Olaotan Recovery fund ECOBANK 0040006665
STANBIC BANK 0001101396 Julia Olaotan