By Ayo Onikoyi
Popular Nigerian rapper, Michael Stephens known professionally as Ruggedman has addressed an open letter to Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, advising him to meet with real Nigerian entertainment stakeholders to discuss how the Federal Government can get involved in the creative industry for mutual prosperity instead of issuing an unilateral order that can only create disharmony between the practitioners and government.
“ It is absurd to say you will ban entertainers from shooting music videos or movies abroad while government officials have their children schooling abroad. How can you say we are using Nigeria’s money to develop their economies when government officials all go abroad for medical treatments and vacations . If you want entertainers to stop going abroad to shoot music videos and movies, then government officials should stop going abroad for hospitals,vacations and schools. We can use all those billions spent in funding foreign economies to equip our schools, hospitals and other parastatals,” he said.
The rapper decries lack of infrastructure for entertainers to make themselves productive in the country, saying the entertainment industry is where it is today, by sheer efforts of the practitioners and not by any government policies. He advised the Honourable Minister to constitute a committee of true stakeholders to work with government on the way forward instead of romancing with people he termed “those who have milked the industry dry with their various platforms.”
“We did not see the likes of Kenny Ogungbe “Kennis Music” , Tade Ogidan, Obi Asika “Storm Records”, Tunde Kilani, or Eldee “Trybe Records”. These are some of the people who suffered and played great parts in building our Nigerian music and movie industry. But the men at the Creative Industry Financing conference are individuals who schooled “abroad” and own platforms that have made and are still making money using Nigerian entertainment,” he said.
“I am an entertainer and I know a lot of what we lack and what we need. Placing a ban on Nigerian entertainers going abroad to shoot music videos and movies is the last thing we need from our government. Helping our creative industry to build a much needed structure, thereby creating a conducive environment for both local and foreign investors to do business is what is needed.
Lets work together to further grow and capitalize on a Nigerian creative industry that has managed to boom without any government policy. Let the government make policies that will protect and expand our creative industry to benefit the entertainers and the Nigerian economy. It cannot be achieved by brute force,” he added.
However, the Minister, during a briefing at the end of a two-day Creative Industry Financing Conference, held in Lagos, last week, had denied saying that the Federal Government will ban the overseas production of Nigerian movies and music.
He said, “At COSON, I said that I would work to amend the National Broadcasting Commission’s code to ensure that if a product is designated a Nigerian product, it must be produced in Nigeria. I didn’t say that, henceforth, all music and movies would or must be produced in Nigeria.”