Why Emeka Mba must leave NFVCB — Gabosky
In the movie industry where he plies his trade he is regarded as a Don. And this partly explains why when the Emeka Mba led National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) came up with the novel idea of streamlining the film distribution framework, he was one of the few persons the board looked up to for support.
Today Gab Okoye a.k.a. Gabosky as the movie distributor is better known seems to be singing a new song. He no longer believes in the NFVCB. So what is could be his reasons for making a detour you may ask?.
He gives his answers on one hand and on the other wants the government of the day to relieve the Emeka Mba led NFVCB board of their responsibility.
You were one of those that supported the new distribution framework when almost everybody didn't see anything good in it. Surprisingly you are objecting to the frame work today, why?
Let me be frank with you, when the new distribution framework was introduced, we saw it as a way forward for the industry because we believed that distribution is very crucial. Content was getting poor and we were clamouring for a change with the way and manner movies were churned out.
We started by asking government and regulatory agencies to come in and regulate the industry because the industry has come to stay. So when the new distribution framework was propagated, we embraced it despite the fact that there were many who were not comfortable with it.
We said “lets test and see the direction it's going to because according to the script, it's going to bring out mega distributors” that will take over the apex of the pyramid of distribution and filter down to what is already on ground, community distributors who have only one shop in Alaba, Idumota, Iweka Road or Aba.
We wanted somebody to be at the apex of distribution and become a mega distributor and then filter down to these community or regional distributors. When Emeka Mba, director of National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) introduced this, we saw it as a way forward and embraced it.
Along the line, we noted that there's no direction again. You cannot say you want to create a few mega distributors to service about 20, 30, 50 community distributors and you end up creating 100 distributors that are even worse than what we had at the beginning. So we started asking questions. We want to know why the likes of Andy Best, Ossy Affasson were not registered, while actors are licensed as distributors.
The people you have refused to licence have structures, have shops and now, you are licensing people that have no business background, and have no structures on ground.
We started asking him “you said you were planning to create mega distributors, that was the impression you gave to Nigerians and that was what attracted Nu Metro, attracted Transcorp to come and buy into it, attracted people like us. Now you have ended up licensing every Tom, Dick and Harry. It is like he is asking people on the street to come and take licence to become a national distributor”.
The situation has become laughable and that is when we started noticing that there is no genuine intention, no direction, and no commitment. And this is why I am speaking for the industry, to alert the industry that there is no genuine intention on the part of the NFVCB headed by Mr. Emeka Mba. They are not representing the interest of the stakeholders. The framework they are erecting will not benefit the industry.
Are all those who opposed the framework at the beginning not vindicated by what you have just said?
You cannot reject the food prepared for you by your wife without tasting it. You have to open it at least to see how palatable it is. The marketers did not come in to look at what NFCVB has as par the New Distribution Framework before they started rejecting it, but, I had to go in and see what it is all about, see the direction they were going.
Looking at the script, I found out that it was okay. And as I am talking to you, I'm not saying that the new distribution framework is entirely bad, it is the executioner and the way they are executing it that is bad. If you follow it logically, you will find out that in a way, marketers are like prophets, they saw what I saw when I went in, they saw it without going in, so in a way, I agree with you that they are vindicated.
Now that you have tasted the food and it is not palatable, what is the way forward?
From my own experience as a major stakeholder, it is not a coincidence that when the going was rough, when the marketers were rejecting this framework, when there was a storm and the board decided on a retreat at Obudu Ranch. And the only person we saw worthy to address that retreat was Dora Akuyili, and of course she told us that if we are to do a regulatory job, we must first of all regulate ourselves.
And how do we do that? You look at the staff of the body that is going to do that regulation to see if they are clean, whether they have the capacity, transparent enough to carry out the regulation and if they are not, retrench or sack all the corrupt officers because that was what she did at NAFDAC.
So if we are to revisit that, we have to clean censors board of corrupt people from the head to the last person there and find the people that have the will power that can carry out the process of regulation. Akuyili can do that if she wants to do it and we are looking on to her to come and regulate the movie industry. But if she does not want to do that, she will be infected by the board and she would not represent the industry again.
In clear terms, when you say relive, are you calling for the sack of Emeka Mba?
If you say sack, it's as if I am saying that Emeka Mba should be sacked. All I'm saying is, he should be relieved of his duties and find more competent people that will do the job. Let him go to another place where he might be needed but for this censors board, he is not needed there.
He cannot say the board was not well funded. Demola James suffered as the first DG because, he had no fund to function but it's not the same today. When Mrs. Roseline Odey came on board, she had little money and made little impact.
Awareness for moviedom in Nigeria was created during Emeka Mba and Frank Nweke Jr. tenure and it was started by Chukwuemeka Chikere and that was when money started rolling into the industry but since then no impact has been made. Nothing has been done under Emeka Mba's administration, Afolabi Adesanya of National Film Corporation (NFC) and Adebambo Adewopo of DG, Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC).
The only thing is that if we wait for sometime and there is no visible improvement, we will picket the board because we can't allow the industry to die like that because of one person.
Have you called Emeka Mba's attention to all these anomalies you have raised?
And what was his reaction?
He was just true to type.
What do you mean by true to type?
True to type in the sense that he is nonchalant about the industry.
Your company was one of those licenced?
So what is the position of the licence?
I'm trying to develop it through the banks but the banks are saying that this is no business. And in a situation where the banks were coming in to do business with the mega distributors that were to be created, maybe 10 of them, and at the end, about 100 persons were licenced, the banks withdrew. Imagine a situation where you licence about 100 GSM companies in the country, would the banks be involved?
They won't. So the banks have withdrawn. Go round all the people that got licence and ask them “what bank is supporting you?' No bank is ready to do business with them because what is everybody's business is no man's business.
From your own point of view, how many people do you think were licenced?
At the licensing ground at Planet One, 45 licences were given out. Emeka Mba later brought out from his pocket and wrote five more licences and said that there are about 40 provisional licences that will be issued and this has been issued and he is still licensing more.
Conservatively we have about 100 now.
You spoke about Ossy Affasson, Andy Best that were denied licence and you also took exceptions to the fact that actors were licenced, why were these people not licenced?
At the beginning, they did not support the framework; they were calling for stakeholders' conference to address other issues that bothered on distribution not licensing people because they felt that licensing is not the major issue.
But we said “lets start from that restructuring first since it is going to create mega distributors; let those among you that are already distributing have maybe five to 10 distributors at the top that will be charged with the responsibility of acquiring and releasing movies for others to distribute.''
These five to 10 people will be empowered, banks will support them to the extent that they will have the financial capacity to acquire ready made movies with as much as N5million and the community distributors will come to them to distribute the film. With this method, it will be easy to monitor the distribution network.
But when people were kicking against the framework, Emeka (Mba) felt that they did not want to cooperate with him and we said let the framework go ahead, they will join later.
Are you now saying that they were not licenced because of their opposition to the framework?
Something like that. If you are licensing Ossy or Andy, you are just giving him a piece of paper because he is already distributing but if you win him over, educate him on the framework, bring other infrastructure to support him, create a niche for him by making him a mega distributor, you will find out that every other person will bring his money to support him. He will no longer spend his money making films, you will make the film and he will acquire but provided that the film is good.
So if he is acquiring four films in a year, you will strive to make sure that your own is among the ones he will acquire. But when you grant licence to 100 people and charge them with the responsibility of releasing films, they will be scouting for film to be released and so any 'Aki na Ukwa' (Tom, Dick And Harry) becomes a movie to be released. What you have done is washing the industry down the drain.
You seem to be fighting this alone……
(Cuts in sharply) No, no. you see, movie industry in Nigeria is plagued by hunger …… when we started the industry, the home video or the so called Nollywood, we were only about two or three and I have always been vocal. I have the passion to talk about the industry. The industry was created out of nothing not by accident like Emeka Mba will describe; it is only the likes of Emeka Mba that came by accident.
The industry did come by accident because it took planning and commitment. What I am trying to say is that it is not true that I am on a one man riot action. Some of the people that are supposed to talk are hungry now, they cannot talk because the industry is going down and they don't have another means of livelihood, I have other means of livelihood so I can talk.
Why are regulatory agencies like NCC, NFVCB having problem with those it ought to regulate?
I will blame the problem on the politicians. Why do I say so?
In Nigeria it has become a tradition that when they want to appoint somebody for a post, they look at who the godfather will be, who will anoint him? By that anointment, they appoint the worse person over the best persons. What is the pedigree of the persons they appointed into these agencies? Where have they worked before?
With all these kind of things, the person is bound to fail from the beginning because he has been appointed to do a work that is bigger than him. If you go through these agencies you are talking about, you'd find out that there is no job that the person ever started that was finished before his removal.
Adewopo at NCC cannot combat piracy, he has no will power, he has shown no direction on that. Emeka cannot move NFVCB forward and so the best thing the government has to do is to look for people who can move the agencies forward.
Is Gabosky rich?
Well, it depends on how you quantify richness; if you talk of self satisfaction, in naira and kobo, I am rich in the sense that I have the basic things I need to make me happy. I don''t hope to own structures all over Lagos . I don't even want it even if God says own structures all over Lagos I will say no, give me the one that will satisfy my needs. What I need is money to train my children to whatever level of education.
Why did you dump your degree to become a trader?
I want to be practical; I went to school to sharpen my knowledge so that I can embrace life; I did not go to the university to become what the certificate they awarded me entails. Education to me is just to equip one for life's numerous challenges. I am into movie, I did not study movie, I am into business I did not study business; I am into oil and gas but did not study anything about it. I am able to do all these because of my university education. So I am not so particular about what somebody studied in the University.