Nollywood practitioners divided over MOPPICON bill

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BENJAMIN NJOKU

National President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria,AGN, Ms Ibinabo Fiberesima two months ago raised the curosity of stakeholders in the movie industry after she dropped a hint that the draft of the long awaited Motion Picture Practitioners Council of Nigeria Bill,MOPPICCON would be returned to them for onward review and possible approval.

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Ibinabo, however, went ahead to say that the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation would be releasing the draft a week after she made the discloure, so that players in the industry can make input before the bill is sent to the National Assembly. “You would recall that we asked for so many things from President Goodluck Jonathan when we visited him some months ago, and one of the fruits of the visit is the MOPPICCON Bill; its draft will be released next week by the Attorney General of the Federation so that we can make inputs,” she hinted.

Meanwhile, two months after she made the announcement, nothing much has been heard about the draft even as mixed-feelings have continued to trail her comments.

First to react to Ibinabo’s announcement was the President of the Association of Nollywood Core Producers,ANCOP, Comrade Alex Eyengho,who frowned at her comments. He, however, cautioned the AGN president, to concern herself with the politics of Guild, and not the entire industry.“ The draft bill is older than Ibinabo in the indsutry. Therefore, she has no right to represent the interest of the industry as far as the MOPPICCON bill is concerned,” Eyengho fumed.

Also, reacting in the same vein, former president of the actors’ body, Ejike Asiegbu accused the federal government of not being sincere about the bill.

According to him, “The government is trying to be economical with the truth. This is because every work that needed to be done on the bill has been completed and presented to them.”

He also accused the government of taking advantage of the fact that most of the current leaders in Nollywood are not well-informed about some of the key issues affecting the industry, hence its alleged decision to return the draft to the industry. “If the government is considering the possibility of returning the bill to the industry, they should contact some of us who are knowledgeable about these key issues,” Asiegbu advocated.

On his own, veteran film maker, Chief Eddie Ugbomah argued that the bill was drafted over twelve years ago, adding that it has been ever ready before now. “They shouldn’t be fooling us. The last time, we were on the bill, myself, Zack Orji, Andy Amenechi, Ejike Asiegbu, Madu Chikwendu and Kanayo .O.Kanayo with the former Minister of Information and Communications, Mr. Frank Nweke Jr. He handed the draft to Mr Odeh when he was leaving office. Mr Odeh invited us to come and talk about the bill. After Odeh left office, the document died with Dora Akunyili when she was the Minister of Information and Communications, before Mr. Labaran Maku came on board. This MOPPICON bill is ever before Ibinabo was born,” Ugbomah stressed.

He, however, insists that if government wants to return the bill to the industry, there is need for them to get in touch with the committee that was set up to prepare the document to read it again and ascertain whether the content has been doctored. Also, in his own reaction, Aossociation of Movie Practitioners,AMP president, Zik Zulu Okafor described the move as a welcome development. “I have not been fully briefed on it, but I heard that the government is planning to return the draft to the industry for us to look at it again. I think the draft has been tampered with, and the industry need to be sure that what we sent is what we will get in return.It will be a fantastic idea because we need to see it again and be sure that our language is what the bill is speaking,”Zik Zulu reasoned.

For Directors Guild of Nigeria,DGN president, Andy Amenechi the government’s decision to return the draft to the industry is basically to enable the players have a final look at the draft before it’s sent to the National Assembly for passage into law.

It would be recalled that in 2006, the Nigerian Film Corporation set up a steering committee for MOPPICON. The committee, which was made up of what was then considered as elected representatives of all sectors of the motion picture industry in Nigeria, actually generated the much talked about draft MOPPICON bill. The committee reportedly met severally and received memoranda from stakeholders cut across virtually all the geograhical zones of the federation.But while the committee completed its task and submitted the draft MOPPICON bill several years ago, owing to bureaucratic bottlenecks between the Ministries of Culture, Information and Justice, successive administrations including Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and the late Umaru Yar’Adua were unable to send the bill to the National Assembly for passage into law.If passed into law, MOPPICON will stand as “a working manual of the industry.”

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