By Michael Eboh & Gabriel Ewepu
Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, Mr. Yakubu Ibn Mohammed, has lamented that despite the fact that almost every child is fascinated by video animation, especially cartoons, there is not a single dedicated cartoon channel that is African in origin and content on any of the television networks currently operating in Nigeria.
Speaking at the launch of the Chinese Animation season in Abuja, Mohammed, who was represented by Mr. Rabiu Adamu, Director of Programmes, NTA, said this development does not portend well for the children, considering the fact that they are the future leaders of the country.
Mohammed blamed the absence of indigenous animated programmes largely on the fact that the country’s local content producers and animators do not have access to the huge funding and technical know-how required to produce animated content.
He said: “This trend is not healthy for us as a nation, because our children today are the leaders of tomorrow who should be embodiment of our culture and values. We need more local animated content and I hope we can collaborate with foreign partners to achieve this objective.”
Mohammed expressed optimism that the visit of a team of Chinese animation companies to Nigeria would ensure that areas of cooperation are found between the experts and local producers to improve the quality and quantity of indigenous animation content for local consumption and which is also suitable for export.
“NTA has a long history of working with various partners from all over the world as long as they are in line with our core mandate of informing and educating Nigerians and preserving our culture and values. We are open to discussing various areas of cooperation with the Chinese team for the benefit of both parties,” he noted.
However, pay television company, Startimes, said it has invested over $220 million in Nigeria, over the last nine years to boost entertainment and enrich the country’s television experience.
Speaking at the programme, Vice-President of StarTimes, Mrs. Guo Zi Qi, said along with other initiatives of the company, this had positioned it as the fastest growing television network in Nigeria.
She also expressed the company’s resolve to cooperate with Nigeria in the area of animation production and in the development of that segment of television.
Speaking in the same vein, Executive Director of the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board, NFVCB, Mr. Adedayo Thomas, reiterated the fact that China is Nigeria’s biggest trading partner, noting however, that more cooperation is still needed in the area of film and animation content production.
He called for increased collaboration between Nigeria and the government of China to arrest the influx of uncensored and unclassified films into the country, stating that such contents are capable of destroying the cultural fabric of the country.
According to him, arresting the influx of uncensored and unclassified materials from China could only be better achieved if there was a synergy among StarTimes and its partner, the NTA, Chinese firms dealing in providing contents for the film industry and the NFVCB.
He further disclosed that the NFVCB is opened for more collaboration that would be beneficial to both countries.