By Benjamin Njoku
A cold war may well be on between the Nigerian Film Corporation,NFC, and practitioners in the film industry following a bill currently in the House of Representatives seeking to transform the former into the Nigerian Film Commission.
This is coming shortly after several indigenous film makers and marketers converged on Lagos, to condemn a current trend whereby Chinese and Indian films are being re-voiced in Yoruba language. The film makers posited that the act, if not quickly curtailed, is not only capable of eroding Nigeria’s indigenous culture but also, it would constitute a threat to employment generation which the film industry is noted for.
Meanwhile, on the face-off between the Nigerian Film Corporation, and players in the movie industry, the latter is kicking against the film commission bill, on the ground that the regulatory body did not carry the industry along.
It would be recalled that weeks back, HVP exclusively reported that the NFC has sent a bill to the House of Representatives, canvassing for the establisment of a new Nigerian Film Commission which will empower it to oversee the activities in the movie industry.
According to the regulatory body, if the bill scale through, it would swing into action to sanitize the industry by ensuring that professionalism becomes the top priority of the regulatory body.
However, a public hearing on the bill titled ‘An Act to repeal the Nigerian Film Corporation Act, CAP. N109, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and Re-Enact the Nigerian Film Commission Act, 2016, to regulate the Film Industry in Nigeria, and for other Related Matters, 2015 (HB.150’ was held at the National Assembly Complex on December 6.
Dissatisfied with this move, heads of guilds in the film industry held a press conference last week at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos,lamenting the clandestine manner the NFC went about the matter and called for a total review of clauses in the draft bill.
According to the guilds, no industry player knew about the existence of the bill which had already been read twice because the NFC did not inform them. They contended that the bill would have been passed into law if some of their colleagues had not stumbled on a notice of the public hearing and mobilised to attend it.
President, Directors Guild of Nigeria (DGN) Fred Amata, who coordinated the event explained that aside not being informed about the bill, its clauses “are inimical to the growth and development of the film industry in Nigeria. The clauses of the bill are duplicating existing rules and regulations of the film industry domiciled in agencies like the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission and the National Film and Video Censors Board.”
Amata added that some of the clauses have been adequately addressed in the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON) draft bill which a committee constituted by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has comprehensively reviewed.
Ms. Peace Anyiam Osigwe, who chaired the MOPICON draft review committee which submitted the report to the Information Minister three weeks ago, said that industry players are not against the establishment of a film commission but wondered how it would be established and function without input from practitioners who know where the shoe pinches.
“NFC boss, Dadu should have come to us with his agenda; he would have ensured that it was in unison with the direction the industry wanted to go. We spent seven months reviewing the MOPICON document, he hasn’t asked for a copy of the review yet he’s regulating our industry. It’s disrespectful to all associations and guilds not to be informed about the bill. If you have not been able to handle the NFC, how will you handle the film commission,” she said.
Also, speaking in the same vein, veteran film maker, Mahmood Ali-Balogun commended the House Committee for given them the opportunity to make input before passing the bill. He, however, called on all players in the industry to endeavour to be involved in reviewing of the bill.
According to Mr. Andy Amenechi, former president of DGN, the establishment of Nigerian film commission should due process. “It’s unfortunate that a developmental agency like the Nigerian Film Corporation has done nothing till date to support the development of the industry since Dadu assumed office as its Director-General. The establishment of Nigerian film commission should follow due process. I don’t think anybody has problem with MOPICON bill because it followed due process from inception. But if things are done properly because we need the support that will actually steer the industry to a great height. We thanked the House Committee for bringing the bill to the public domain. NFC metamorphosing into a film commission without taking contribution from the industry will not be not possible as far as Nollywood is concerned,” he said.
President, Association of Movie Producer,AMP, Ralph Nwadike frowned at the inability of the NFC boss to carry them along. “We made Nollywood, not the Federal Government. I think it’s an insult; an affront to the entire industry. You can’t come to reap where you did not sow. I feel very insulted and to think it has passed second reading.”
For Norbert Ajaegbu of the Film and Video Producers and Marketers Association, allowing the NFC to have its way will be allowing government take control of the film industry through the back door. “There is no need for the National Assembly to pass the bill; attention should be given to the MOPICON Bill.”
Others who condemned the NFC’s action, at the event were a representative of the Screen Writers Guild of Nigeria, Chidi Nwokabia; Emeka Samuel Aduah of the Marketers Association of Nigeria; Fidelis Awata of the Association of Motion Pictures and Entertainment Editors of Nigeria; President, Association of Nollywood Core Producers, Daisy Madu Chikwendu; founding president of the DGN and the immediate past president, Mathias Obahiagbon.