Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, recently responded to criticisms about the production of Nigerian films, music videos and reality shows such as Big Brother Naija last year by unveiling plans to stop such practice through a review of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.
The Federal Government was lampooned for allowing the production of such a show with Nigeria’s name closely attached to it in South Africa, a country we had a diplomatic spat with over xenophobic attacks on Nigerian citizens.
We agree with the Minister’s sentiments that the practice of making otherwise Nigerian products in foreign countries, apart from underlining the fact that Nigeria remains an underdeveloped country, also ships away our jobs and prosperity to other countries. It is a shame that Nigeria cannot boast of producing decent-quality products of our highly popular entertainment industry locally.
But, until the measures outlined by the Minister to acquire the relevant technologies are put in place, it will be counter-productive to force any private investor in the entertainment industry to produce locally and risk market losses due to poor quality output. It is a fact that the Nigerian entertainment industry is now reckoned with worldwide, especially with the large number of Nigerians and other Africans in the Diaspora. Music, film, video and other entertainment products no longer have “Nigerian” standard. Rather, producers target internationally-acceptable standards in order to reach worldwide audiences.
We call on the Federal Government to hasten its efforts at providing an enabling environment for the local production of all our creative industry products. It is gladdening to note that the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) has already submitted proposals towards granting the local production of our music, films and reality shows a “pioneer status”.
We have heard a lot of such promises in the past. Large sums of money have been set aside to upgrade our entertainment industry and grant its practitioners easy access to credit with little to show for it. It is unfortunate that our government is full of rosy promises but has proved incapable of driving any of its grandiloquent schemes to fruition.
Our world-acclaimed entertainment industry emerged solely through the efforts of individual practitioners. They toiled, and are still toiling from the scratch to make global impact in spite of the daunting and crippling odds they face in the system. The Federal Government must step forward with visionary boldness and partner with the stakeholders of our entertainment industry to project the home-grown creative talents of our people to the world.
This will not only help to diversify our economy and increase prosperity, it will also increase the prestige of our country. That is a major challenge for the Minister of Information and Culture.