Two years in office, Nollywood scores Buhari’s administration!

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President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress,APC, administration will be exactly two years in office on Monday, May 29, and already, the cloud is thick with mixed-reactions as every sector of the nation’s economy is busy taking stock of how it has fared in the past two years.

For the creative industry, it has been a mixed-blessing. The present administration came into office, riding on the crest of its change mantra to confront the monster that has long undermined the growth of the industry. First, the government showed more concern about structuring the movie industry in particular, for easy regulation than splashing billions of naira on the stakeholders which was the bargaining strength of the previous administration.

President Muhammadu Buhari during the Federal Executive Council Meeting held at the Council Chamber State House Abuja.

Recall that overtime, the government has engaged the stakeholders in the creative sector, having acknowledged the potentials of Nollywood as a money-spinning industry that could help boost the Nigerian economy. But in most cases, the interactive sessions have made no meaningful impact on the industry.  It’s still fresh in our memories, when last year, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, inaugurated a 28-member committee for the review of the moribund Motion Picture Practitioners Council,MOPICON, document for the purposes of ultimately presenting it as an executive bill to the National Assembly for passage into law. After severall sittings, and organizing town hall meetings, the committee has since submitted its report to the government, but no action has been taken so far to actualize the dream of passing the MOPICON bill into law. Instead,  the apex regulatory body, Nigerian Film Corporation,NFC, moved to propose Nigerian Film Commission Bill which is currently before the National Assembly.

The film commission bill, according to NFC, is to provide an enabling environment for the development and growth of the motion picture industry in the country, to continue to grapple with inadequate funding. But the stakeholders kicked against the bill, on the ground that the regulatory body “did not carry the industry along.”

However, in a renewed effort by the present government to move the industry forward, the Nigerian Film Corporation,NFC, Nigerian Copyright Commission,NCC, Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board ,NFVCB, and the National Broadcasting Commission,NBC, which forms the quartet for the Nigerian film industry have jointly endorsed the establishment of the National Film Development Fund (NFDF) to enable the nation deal urgently with the dearth of funding for film production activities, and investment opportunities that abound in the Nigerian film industry. Here, some stakeholders take a crucial look at how the industry has fared in the past two years.

Nothing dramatic has happened at the national level—Bimbo Manuel, Actor

Bob Manuel

I think you know this has not been a very communicative government and possibly because it has  deliberately de-emphasised visual relationship with the entertainment industry. So, for me nothing dramatic has happened at the national level unlike the past administration.

For the creative industry, there has been no noticeable impact — Francis Onwochei, Actor/Producer

President Buhari came into power on the heels of improving  security situation in the country and fighting corruption. It is no secret on how we have fared in these regards. For the creative industry, there has been no noticeable impact. It is a sad commentary on any administration in Nigeria without a clear cut policy tilt towards a soft economy like ours. Film makers as influencers and the creative industry generally can be  a tool to grow our economy.

Buhari-led govt hasn’t done enough to support Nollywood financially—Kelchi Eke, US-based Nigerian film maker

I do my best to see something good in every situation. The two positive impacts I can think of are:  1. Creative minds have more stories to write about. 2. Nollywood has produced top quality films over the past two years than before. However, I don’t think the administration has done enough to support Nollywood financially.

The entertainment  industry is in a terrible state —Bob Manuel, Actor

It’s not funny at all. The economy is in comatose. People are dying of hunger and starvation, not to mention committing suicide. The entertainment  industry is in a terrible state and Nollywood is worse off and you think it’s funny?

I score the administration high in areas of security, tackling corruption and reviving the economy—Alex Eyengho, former ANCOP president

I score the administration extremely high in the areas of security, tackling corruption and reviving the economy. I suspect that President Buhari and his team have blueprint for tackling these other critical areas but I think it’s time to shift attention to the Nigerian creative industries, particularly film, music and comedy.

These are the greatest export of Nigeria in the face of dwindling crude oil fortunes. All the presidency need to do is to create the enabling environment for the creative industry to thrive.

Fight piracy headlong and indeed, criminalize it without option of fine. Put the right persons from the industry in the critical agencies such as NFC, NFVCB and NCC. Also, the government should have a clear plan to further deepen Nollywood’s global presence through mounting Nigerian pavilion at major international film festivals and also, grow our local film festivals.

Government should endeavour to give tax break to practitioners as well as make grants programmes like Project Nollywood Act more value-adding and monitorable so that it will not be seen as free  meal tickets by applicants. Immediately ratify and domesticate all relevant  WIPO treaties signed since the early 90s. Go into immediate co-production treaty arrangement with other film nations. This way, we shall rule the world.

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