Vanessa Obioha writes that political parties are struggling for the support of the creative industry in the upcoming elections. As the general election draws near, the creative industry has become the toast of different contesting partisan groups. The past week saw the two dominant parties, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) engaging select members of the sector while pledging to improve the sector.
The industry which is worth millions of Naira is considered a critical sector in influencing the choice of voters in the upcoming elections. The film industry, notably, is recognised as a major contributor to the national GDP and a great employer of the Nigerian youths, a demography that the PDP’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has frequently courted.
Under the democratic era, Nollywood’s commanding influence was fully exploited by former president,Goodluck Jonathan who hosted the industry during its disputed 20th anniversary of Nollywood in 2013. At that event, he unveiled a N3 billion package to help turnaround the industry.
Tagged ‘Project Nollywood’, the package included grants for the best film scripts, a capacity development fund, and funds for supporting the industry’s infrastructure.
That grant would later be riddled with controversies as some members accused a segment of the industry of using the alloted funds to meet their selfish needs and that of their cronies.
Now in 2019, Atiku is vowing to do more for the industry not only financially but also in ensuring that policies regarding copyright and intellectual property is implemented.
“I am committed to providing enabling environment to promote this industry because if you read our economic plan you will find that creating jobs is our top priority and I have come to realise that this industry is one of the topmost to achieve that. Moreso, your jobs will capture the right segment of our population, the youths.”
He continued, “If we want to promote this industry, we have to make sure that they have access to funding either from the government or private sector because this funding can be refunded. This is an industry that has the capacity to make billions of dollars in the economy.
“I also agree that government should support tax incentives if they really want to grow and they need to grow so that they can supply as many jobs as possible. That incentive is necessary. We will also see to the implementation of legislatures.”
That engagement had in attendance prominent Nollywood and music personalities like Obi Asika who presented a paper on the immense value of the music industry, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe who emphasised on the entrepreneurial spirit of Nollywood, Mahmood Ali-Balogun, Ann Njemanze, Pedro Obaseki, and Charles Novia who moderated the session. Also present were the Senate President Bukola Saraki, former governor of Anambra state and Atiku’s running mate, Peter Obi, Sillverbird Group helmsman Senator Ben Murray-Bruce and former governor of Cross River state, Liyel Imoke
However, it was Norbert Ajaegbu, a lawyer and copyright activist who roused the packed hall at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island Lagos most.
He said, “We have highly intellectual persons among us in this industry. Most of the regulatory bodies in the film industry on the national level are headed by individuals who are not in the film industry, we want some of our intellects to be appointed, people we know, “he argued to a loud applause.
Ajaegbu also called for an executive bill that will bind the industry together, making reference to the Motion Picture Practitioners Council of Nigeria (MOPPICON) bill which is yet to see light of the day under the present administration.
Acceding to their request earned Atiku a sealed support in the election. Being that a large percentage of the industry was at that gathering, Atiku was assured that he got the backing of the industry in his presidential bid.
The same cannot be said of President Muhammadu Buhari whose administration has done little for the burgeoning industry, according to some creatives. Moreso, ease of doing business has been cumbersome as a result of the hardship in the economy. It was understandable then that a large group in the creative industry will pitch their tent with PDP.
While Buhari has failed to woo the industry, the APC’s Lagos state gubernatorial candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has taken steps to win the heart of many in the industry. It is a known fact that the arts and culture ministry in the state provides regular support to stakeholders.
Consolidating on the efforts of the ministry, Sanwo-Olu elevated the creative industry recently while unveiling his development agenda for the state: