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Challenges to youth empowerment in the Nigerian music, film industries

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Challenges to Youth Empowerment in the Nigerian Music, Film Industries

By Amara Onwuasoanya

Despite the lack of essential goods and services and employment opportunities, Nigerian youths continue to produce innovative and creative works in Nigeria’s rapidly growing music and film industries.

Their amazing work has undoubtedly, contributed significantly to the Nigerian economy and has enhanced the country’s profile enormously across the world. However, the remarkable achievements of these young artists obscure the major challenges they endure in these highly competitive industries.

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In the music industry, getting signed into a major music label is even more of a daunting task today than it was a few years ago. To undercut this major challenge, many talented young Nigerian musicians have taken to social media to showcase their talents in a bid to reach millions of fans nationwide but are beginning to discover the financial limitation of this medium as a profitable outlet for their creative works.

While access to social media outlets may help promote their brand to the public, having large followership on social media does not necessarily translate to financial gain.

In a recent conversation with Damelo Asuquo, an upcoming young music artist, Asuquo lamented “I make good music but my major problem is promoting them. You have to pay a huge sum of money to the media houses and radio stations for them to play your song for a few minutes”.

When I asked him if he ever thought of signing with a well-known music label, he said: “I have tried to meet some music producers but you know it’s not easy to get their attention as there are many people coming for the same reasons”.

Conditions in the movie industry are even more severe. Young actors and actresses with exceptional acting talent and skills find it difficult to get even minor roles due to nepotism and except, in the case of young women, they offer their bodies to unethical film directors, producers, and financiers. While there are certainly principled and honorable filmmakers, the percentage of decent producers and directors are relatively low.

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In addition to this sexual exploitation and favoritism, there is also the growing problem of plagiarism in the Nigerian film industry. A recent notable case is that of Jude Idada, a Canadian based Nigerian scriptwriter who accused Omoni Oboli, a Nigerian actress of stealing his script for her film – Okafor’s Law which was first shown at the Toronto International Film Festivals.

Although there is a copyright law in the country, many talented young scriptwriters do not have the financial resources to pursue legal recourse to protect their works.

While some of them are brave enough to send their works to movie producers, a greater percentage of them cringe at the idea and instead, hoard their scripts with the hope of producing them in the future when they hope to have enough funds to finance their work. Needless to say, with the dire economic conditions in the country, the glorious day of access to financial resources fail to materialize.

Given the enormous contribution of these talented young Nigerians to the social and economic development of the country, along with their promotion of our country’s positive image across the world, one would expect Nigeria’s federal and state governments to significantly increase funding to promote the work of young artists across the country.

This can be done through the provision of low interest or interest-free loans as well as grants to highly qualified and promising artists who need help to break into these competitive musical and film industries.

Additionally, the Nigerian authorities at the federal and state government levels must do more to formulate and implement policies as well as enact and enforce laws that will protect less-privileged young artists from unscrupulous and predatory big men and women who exploit these industries to advance their own selfish interest.

Amara Onwuasoanya is a  graduate of Geology from the Federal University of Technology Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria.

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