African Voice



written by Ekine Stronghold

 From my privileged standpoint as a reporter on the many issues that plague the Nigerian motion picture industry which is popularly called nollywood, however erroneous that may be. I am not shocked by the imbroglio that the 60, Isaac John Street meeting “for nollywood but not by nollywood” as embattled AMP president and the former member of SWGN MEMBER Mr.Zik zulu okafor put it, precipitated. Why should I? It ought to be expected. In fact I am shocked at those that are shocked; if it didn’t happen then it means there is a more serious problem than the present one. As far as I am concerned it is a positive outcome that will help us appreciate the exact state of our dearly beloved industry, if we insist it is one. I am always very fascinated when Mr. Fidelis Duker and other practitioners put up convincing arguments that we have an industry, not like I don’t agree with them, I am just particularly curious whether any industry is actually an industry if there are no structures or if the structures in place are without functionality and lack proper institutionalization.
I have tried to look at the various sides at war, I have attended press conferences, read articles and counter articles, I have conducted interviews upon interviews, engaged in discussions and arguments concerning this matter with several practitioners. I have carefully looked at the three sides of the coin(oh you didn’t know?) and here is my honest opinion. First and foremost, if we have an industry it is still in the making. Hmm! this is a big statement but if you dare come out of the box, throw away your bias that colors one’s sense of perception which is always often tied to pride and loyalty, you will be able to see the truth. The motion picture industry in Nigeria is yet to achieve the stature of an industry.
The 3billion naira brouhaha is merely one pointer to this truth. First of all, if the government actually recognized nollywood or the “supposed motion picture industry as an industry”, it won’t call on individuals to regulate this “presidential booty fund”, no insults meant please. If the government wants to deal with lawyers, it goes through the NBA, if it wants to deal with medical practitioners it goes through the NMA, the government wanted to deal with nollywood and there was no recognized institution so it sourced for individuals. At this point the question of integrity of the persons selected is not the question neither is their capability, experience or the manner with which they carried out the job; let’s leave that for another day. I believe that if the government trusts certain individuals to carry out a job, who is anybody to question that. After all, they are the government and it is their money? If however there is a body that has to shout out to the government that “we are here” and we are the monitors, watchers or congas of this “supposed industry” then that body has not been doing its job. Why have they not talked since? Since, that some guilds have not had any meeting in over six months and their members are left hanging, why have they not talked since? A particular guild president cornered money for the guild into his personal pocket while the guild is yet to secure an office, why have they not talked since? A member in a state chapter of a particular guild won elections and the national president placed an embargo on his inauguration because of personal interest? Why did they not talk? Were they are not watching, monitoring or did their ‘conga’ drums loose tune? Maybe this presidential booty fund does have some resurrection power after all.
It is my honest opinion that the motion picture industry or nollywood if you prefer needs to be institutionalized. The ‘padi padi’ , one man business pattern on which nollywood was built is the foundation of the problem and such crisis as this and previous ones only show that to be an industry is to move from the “my guy” status quo to the cooperate status quo. That is the mistake made thus far. As much as I think that it is an error, even an insult on the “supposed industry”, call it nollywood or not for the government to commit such resources for the resuscitation of an industry to individuals no matter how highly placed or competent they are without the consensus of the practitioners. But why blame the government when there is no industry. Until there evolves a true and proper industry, the voices of the practitioners will be perceived by the governments as minor murmurs by a minority that’s always convenient to ignore. “Let all of them crying foul shut up, Na because the money no reach them” that’s what they’ll say. After all, in their honest opinion “no be the first time we dey decide for them” And they are right. If you have forgotten, let me remind you.
Do you recall in 2011 that our very own Stephanie okereke, kanayo o. kanayo and others were decorated with national awards? The list passed off as a political list of repaying the breath of fresh air campaigners and rightly so because the government simply decided for nollywood. I’d like to ask how Stephanie okereke has contributed more to the development of nollywood than a Fidelis Duker or a Tunde kelani and as at that time peace anyiam osigwe didn’t make the list. By what yardstick can you conveniently say that kanayo o. kanayo has contributed more to nollywood than a Pete Edochie or a Kenneth okonkwo or even the late Sam loco efe. My dear Genevieve cannot rival a Joke silver especially if professionalism is made a major criterion. How did they come about their list, with whom did they consult with? Would they do the same thing with the NBA? Or COREN? By the way whom would they have consulted with? Nollywood monitors, watchers or CONGA?
My point, I believe is made. Since the last elections, where has CONGA been? Is the headmaster still the chairman or did his chairmanship end with his tenure as president of DGN? What does the constitution say in that regard? Do they have one? Are they not the umbrella body of the supposed industry? If they are, why did the government sideline them? Why are they not talking? Who said they are the umbrella body of the “supposed industry”? it is common knowledge that some of the big players don’t believe in the guild system and how does that make them less of a practitioner or a professional? They’d conveniently say, “Do your own make I do my own make we see who go chop pass”. Which guild Amaka Igwe dey? Which guild Kunle Afolanyan dey? Who wan sanction them? Ramsey Noah dey guild abi? but wen kunle give am figurine job anybody coff? Nonsense.
The simple truth is that the motion picture industry in Nigeria constitutes more than nollywood. Chai stronghold shut up, you wan cause 3rd world war? Well, What I want to say is that if we must lay claim to having an industry then we must first of all harmonize the home front. Until there is unification and a proper definition as to what constitutes the Nigerian motion picture industry and what constitutes nollywood or are they one and the same and the proper institutionalization is done, any funds, booty or grant whether presidential or international will continue to reveal how not an industry nollywood is. That is my honest opinion, what yours?

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