PANAF Makes Case for Artistes, Meets Showbiz Stakeholders

Tosin Clegg

The Pan-African Network for Artistic Freedom, PANAF, an advocacy group launched in Nigeria two years ago has asked the federal government to enshrine in the country’s constitution a law that would guarantee the creative rights of Nigerian artistes.

This was contained in a document the group presented to some top showbiz stakeholders during the week, in Lagos.

Addressing the stakeholders at the forum titled, “The validation of PANAF Research for Nigeria”, the country’s coordinator, Mr Fidelis Duker explained that PANAF was established in 2021 in response to the need of an active and inclusive regional voice in the creative sector that could raise awareness of incidents of artistic freedom violations and collaborate with artistic rights advocates in regional and national advocacy efforts.

Duker cited instances of artistes’ rights being violated in the past, such as when playwright and former minister, Rasheed Gbadamosi was arrested and thrown into prison during the military regime of General Yakubu Gowon for his play, “Trees Grow in the Desert” as well as Fela who was jailed for his protestant songs. He maintained that artistes have the undeniable rights to express themselves, which is why the advocacy group was established.

Speaking further, Duker said the essence of the meeting was to intimate the stakeholders of a report the group carried out recently on how best to project the rights of the creative people.

 “We commissioned three university dons including, Dr Charles Okwuowulu of the Alex Ekwueme University, Abalkiliki; Dr. Aliu Abdallah ( Bayero University) and Dr. Tunde Olaifa of the University of Lagos, to carry out a research on what kind of law do they want to see, what kind of society do they want to see: what do they expect going forward.

“It was an extensive research carried out by these university dons. The cross-checked our laws to see if artists’ rights are protected and at the end of the research, they came out with a position that apart from the freedom of expression which is enshrined in our constitution, there’s need for the enactment of creative law that will guarantee artistic freedom of expression,” Duker explained.

This, he said, will enable creative ideas to be communicated not partly or partially but fully in order to actualize the true purpose of artistic works.

Meanwhile, the document proposes the enactment of a “creative expression licence law” which it says “if upheld by the Nigerian government will give the creative artistes in Nigeria the liberty of expression and mitigate against brutalization and humiliation by some government leaders in the Nigerian society.”

Notable Nollywood practitioners present at the event were, Charles Inojie, Kepyy Ekpenyong, Edet Bassey-Inyang and Bond Emeruwa.

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