FIVE OVER FIVE WITH … Bond Emeruwa .
Can we meet you please?
I am Bond Emeruwa. I am a filmmaker and to be more specific I am a director and the protem Chairman of the Coalition of Nollywood Guilds and Association (CONGA) and President of the Director's Guild of Nigeria.
What is CONGA all about?
Well for some time now all we hear from government and the general public is that practitioners of the movie industry do not speak with one voice. They believe we are too disintegrated to be taken seriously. So, we all resolved as an industry to come under the platform of CONGA as way of protecting the Nigerian motion picture industry and with the view to making it grow as well as increase its capacity to assist other emerging film industries all over the world. We also set up CONGA to protect private driven industry, too.
Is this different from the unionisation of the industry?
It is different. I have heard of that proposal but whoever is proposing that does not really understand how things work. It is either the person is living in the past or the past is living in the person. As far as I am concerned, we have passed the stage of asking for unions. What we should all be agitating for is a council that would help to sanitise and regulate the industry. Once the industry is regulated like advertising practice of today, things will fall in place for both the employees and the employers. I mean you are asking for a union that will be free of government intervention and you want the same government to cede a part of its revenue for your sustenance. What kind of doublespeak is that. We should all be concerned about getting the practitioners council off the ground.
How about your agitation for the setting up of the Motion Picture Practitioners Council (MOPPICON)?
We are on it. You will agree with me that the absence of the council is the reason why there are mounting distortions and dysfunction in the industry. We are working at fast tracking the setting up of the council even if it means sponsoring a private bill at National Assembly. It has reached a point that we should be more decisive about MOPPICON. We have spent so much time and resources holding meetings and workshops on the document and so, I don't see the reason government should delay it. So, we have started the process of fast tracking the setting up of the council. This is outside our plans to set up special anti-piracy committee, which will be empowered to evolve a multi-faced approach to tackle piracy in its entirety. We have also set up a business committee that will articulate plans and inject funds into the industry. The committee will also determine other ways of creating business relationship with practitioners in the cable television such as HITV, MNET and major terrestrial television stations. The intention is to get them to pay something more reasonable to filmmakers.
What's your stand on the petition by the break out association — Association of Nollywood Core Producers (ANCOP)?
We, at CONGA, have decided not to join issues with those lay about who are just trying to hold on to something. As far as we are concerned, they don't exist and their petition is baseless. No single group can be greater than the industry. Any way, if they are aggrieved, let them channel their grievances through the Association of Movie Producers (AMP), which is the only recognised body for producers. Honestly, CONGA doesn't want to be distracted by the activities of disgruntled practitioners, who are seeking relevance at all cost. Check all the members of the so called ANCOP, when last did they produce a film? That petition, as far as I am concerned, is baseless. We have not even written a single letter out on CONGA because we are still in the process of building consensus, but they have written and copied everyone because they are playing spoilers. ANCOP is just one break-out association, it cannot be said to be greater than all the whole bodies that make up Nollywood. But we understand their intentions and know those behind them. A few of them have approached me, but instead of discussing issues, they were discussing persons. Does that sound to you like people who mean well for the industry? In any case, I have received overtures from some of them, but to be admitted, we will insist that they dialogue with the AMP from where they broke out. CONGA is a coalition and not an association.