By Charles Oputa
Information Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed in one of his numerous jokes, probably scripted this time by Tony Okoroji, announced that the federal government is set to stop production of Nigerian movies and music videos abroad. This revelation was made recently on Saturday, July 15, 2017, at the headquarters of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON).
This is one of the many laughable utterances of our minister, who is fast becoming a full blown comic considering his track records.
Imagine our Culture and Information Minister admitting the superiority of Senegalese’s Jollof over Naija jollof rice; even Ghana that is considered our archenemy on that front did not come close – You could tell how stunned Richard Quest was from the look on his face that night.
Remember when he suggested that one masquerade could create a thousand jobs per week for Nigerian men, masquerades ooo. His advice to graduates was to venture into the enterprise of dressing masquerades? Kai.
Fact is, most Nigerians don’t count our ministers’ pronouncements as serious these days. Many see him as a clueless and overly excited Minister who makes a lot of funny declarations without due consultations. You won’t be wrong if you call him irrational, or if you like, a bigmouth; you may also want to consider him a fabulist, or if you are trying to be modest like me, just call him the King of spoofs. Haha…a joke called minister.
Anyway, let’s leave the jokes to Lai Mohammed and go back to the real issue here.
Shey una know say entertainment in Nigeria was not always this glamorous?
Once upon a time, hardly was any Nigerian song played in our night clubs. Then, Nigerian songs rarely enjoyed quality air play – Some persons laboured to change the status quo.
Once upon a time, Corporate Bodies budgeted fat cheques for foreign artists while they rewarded indigenous artists with popcorn. Foreign artists were treated as demigods while Nigerian entertainers no matter how hardworking, no matter how successful were treated as juveniles. Some people fought to eradicate this kinda disrespect to our celebrities.
Even Nollywood has had its fair share. Remember when multichoice came to Nigeria; NTA were leaking/selling indigenous contents to multichoice without paying a dime to the producers – somebody resisted that evil, and today the story is all shades of colourful. Things have no doubt evolved, thanks to the creativity and hardwork of a few good men.
Just recently, I learned that Nigerian entertainers are going to be taxed and sanctioned for evasion. Well, in as much as I believe paying taxes is our civic responsibility, the bunch of criminals in government devising daily means to further strengthen their criminality remains a great worry for me.
And I find it really petty for a serious government battling with serious issues of national interest to begin to dictate where to shoot videos and where to make movies. Our movies and music videos should be a potpourri of dynamism, tourism, african and international beauty, cultural heritage, aesthetic sensation, and ultimately, an embodiment of seamless artistic expression. To achieve these details and peculiarities, one cannot limit the production of what should be a classic and enchanting artistic expression to a grossly looted and underdeveloped state like Nigeria.
Abegii, let our government be reasonable joor. However, if they want to tread that path, they should first withdraw their kids from schools abroad, declare that no politician should go for medical treatment abroad, bring our president back to Aso Rock, after all, billions of Naira has been spent on the Abuja clinic – another national fraud by the pack of criminals occupying positions of power. Ohh… They should also make sure they provide uninterrupted power supply, fix our bad roads and build monuments that would attract tourists across the world. Because, patronizing made in Nigeria products must be a head to bottom policy.
Nonetheless, our entertainers must see themselves as role models. They wield the sword of public opinion. They must help in reshaping the Nigerian society – just like hip-hop was used as a tool in fighting the government in Senegal. Nigerians won’t forget the role of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Sonny Okosun, etc., in advocating for a better life for the common man.
Entertainers must unanimously speak up. Not just now but always. They’ve come for us, we must cut these charlatans to size, we must not just defend our art, we must begin to use our platforms to condemn all forms of insanity in our political corridors.
This is a call to service, we must rescue our nation from these abusers, every entertainer must see himself as either chosen or called to be evangelists of the much needed social reform. Entertainers must begin to address societal ills especially through music, movies and arts in general.
The revolution must begin from entertainers and we must kick start the healing process by creating our ideal society through our works. Our imaginations must revolve around the utopian possibilities.
This is to activate the indifferent, misguided and unconcerned youth in our entertainment industry, let’s all stand up to wrestle our nation back from these criminals. The time to act is now.
The labour of our heroes past shall not be in vain.
OUR MUMU DON DO.