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Nollywood Cold On New Culture Boss


Sighs, amid feeling of frustration and indignation swept through the Nigerian film industry popularly called Nollywood last week, when the news of the appointment of Prof. Babalola Borishade as the new Minister of Culture and Tourism.

For some of the moviemakers however, the feeling was apathetic.

The federal government last week effected a minor cabinet reshuffle in the wake of the ADC aircraft that crashed on its way to Sokoto from Abuja.

Prof. Borisade who until recently was minister of Aviation is now to head the Culture and Tourism sector. He swapped position with Chief Femi Fani-Kayode who assumed office in the culture sector barely two month away.

Movie director, producer and actor, Mr. Mahmood Ali Balogun condemned the decision to appoint Borisade as culture minister. He described the move as a "total lack of respect" for the sector which he described as the number one money spinning industry, after oil. "The appointment of Prof. Borisade, with all due respect shows the attitude of government towards the sector. How can someone who has 'failed' in the education sector, someone who had just recently deemed a failure

by the same government in the aviation sector, be now brought to the culture sector? To do what, destroy the sector entirely. I don't have any against Prof. Borisade as a person, so nobody should get me wrong, but the interest of the sector, the good of the sector, overshadows any other interest."

Balogun is of the opinion that Borisade should have honourably resigned after his widely perceived failure. "I think he, Borisade, should have honourably resigned and saved the culture sector the misfortune of having him as minister. If I may ask, must he remain in government at all cost? What does he have to offer that we have not seen since he had been in government?"

The award winning filmmaker wonders why the sector is affected anytime there is a cabinet reshuffle. "Is the Culture and Tourism sector a sector being used to compensate political allies without the interest of the stakeholders at heart? I hope not."

Comedy merchant and film producer Opa Williams is cautious. "I don't know why we keep moving around in circles. I hope the government has seen any sense in the appointment of Prof. Borisade as culture minister. But I feel government should have allowed the heat to move away from him (Aborisade) this period."

Williams cautioned: "The culture sector is a very complicated sector that needs the attention of somebody who knows the terrain, somebody who understands what culture and tourism and the potentials inherent, are all about. Perhaps the new minister would do well, no one can tell, but between now and May next year is pretty short though."

Mr. Ejike Asiegbu, president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, AGN, called for patience on the part of practitioners. "I know that moviemakers and culture practitioners have been patient all this while, but at times like this, patience is still all what we want. However, I feel that government have not been fair to us at all. The frequent changes have stunted the growth of the culture sector."

The actor who just came back from a Nigerian film award ceremony in the UK advised those at the helm of affairs in the culture sector to however co-operate with the new minister "so that people would not have reasons to justify his successes or failures at the end of the day."

The feeling at Winnis Hotel and the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, annex, both abodes of actors, were not different. Most of the actors spoken with expressed pessimism. "What ever they like, let them do, we have seen all these things before so it won't surprise anybody," a tall dark fellow who simply identified himself as Chuks, submitted.

Mr. Bolaji Rosiji, president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, PMAN, would rather leave government to its decision. "Government know why they had to take Prof. Borisade to the culture sector and I would prefer to leave it at that. There is a reason for everything, perhaps he will make things happen, but honestly, government should have left Chief Fani-Kayode to execute some of his agenda so that he could be judged correctly by what he did and did not do. So, we are back to square one in the culture sector because the new minister is going to bring his new programmes and all."