Lai Mohammed And The Entertainment Industry

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By George Onmonya Daniel

The idea to make Nigerian films and music videos in the country is a good one so that the Nigerian people would benefit from the expanding entertainment and creative sector.

The entertainment industry is one of the highest employers of labour these days although experts and industry players have always criticized government for unable to create conducive atmosphere warranting Nigerian musicians shooting videos in South Africa, Europe and the United States and engaging the nationals of other countries when they can as well get the same or even better services here in Nigeria.

I support the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, I really do, that Nigerian entertainment content should be produced and packaged on the Nigerian soil.

Since the ‘Big Brother Naija’ show sponsored by Nigerian companies, was taken to South Africa and aired to Nigerian audience from overseas, it became a media discourse and embarrassment to the federal government.

Pray; how can a Nigerian show be hosted in another country? It is Iike Nigeria hosting a football tournament but the games are going to be played in stadiums in South Africa. During the Big Brother Nigeria show issues like insecurity, lack of power supply and general lack of infrastructure compared with South Africa became serious issues.

While supportive of the pronouncement of the Minister, it is expedient to engage stakeholders in the industry on the modalities and feasible means of actualizing the directive.

Regular meetings with stakeholders and discussing these issues will help both practitioners and parties as government cannot afford to be at loggerheads with an industry that has helped it pack off thousands off the streets through employment. Government need people to be employed, the entertainment industry need government to help in areas where they encounter challenges, like the piracy  fight, seamless access to loans from development banks like the Bank of Industry and attracting investors to throw their money in building cinema, especially for the movie industry.

Another problem is that the people who buy these contents are not Nigerian companies. Do the Nigerian Television Authority buy these contents? No. Most of our content are sourced and bought over by foreign companies, especially DSTV and other foreign television stations as well as entertainment websites based overseas. While this is itself not a bad idea, it will be motivating to see government and Nigerian companies patronize these works in rewarding proportions.

Some countries have worked on their tourist industry for years and turn such places into iconic scenes so appealing to shoot videos and other entertainment content across the world. For instance the Eiffel Tower in Paris would attract movie makers and even promote their videos.

Again, there is the security and perception issues as one cannot shoot film in some parts of Nigeria without backlash. Some Islamic clerics see film and other entertainment practices as ‘haram’ (sinful) already. How more can one explain the stoppage of the Film Village approved by the federal government meant to be built in Kano? In fact recently a local government banned cinema houses amongst others in Zamfara State.

The federal and state government talk about tourism without demonstrating commitment to engage the entertainment industry in the promotion of tourism potentials in their states despite the talks of diversification of the economy.

The government needs to promote Nigeria and make it a destination for tourism and it will become appealing to shoot videos, not only by Nollywood but other brands around the globe here in Nigeria.

Entertainment is about the freedom of expression; but there are issues that interfere with such liberty in Nigeria; mostly religious people always frown with the mode of such expression that when ‘Big Brother Naija’ was being aired, protests were raised about a lot of suggestive content; from nudity, the language and perceived foul behaviours in the house.

Of course it is usual to have such criticism, but in a country where Beauty Pageant can cause mayhem because some people find it offensive, organizers may find hosting such programme outside and televising to Nigeria more convenient.

However, the fact is that, there is nothing in entertainment that cannot be done in Nigeria. I really think our entertainers should save their money by doing it locally after all we started locally. We have done very well.