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Chairman, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), Chief Tony Okoroji has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to declare war on the piracy of Nigerian musical and movie products in the ECOWAS sub-region and the rest of the continent.

Speaking at the Stakeholders' Forum on the Entertainment Industry, organized by the Nigerian Export Promotions Council (NEPC) at Lagos Sheraton Hotel & Towers on April 14, 2014, Chief Okoroji said, 'If we must confront the frightening unemployment in our country and provide a better tomorrow for our children, we must flex our diplomatic muscles and take on the big abuse of intellectual property trade not just in the ECOWAS nations but across Africa'.

According to Chief Okoroji, 'We do not have to create the demand for Nigerian entertainment products anywhere in the continent. The demand for Nigerian music and movies in every country in Africa is huge and worth billions of naira. That demand is being met not with legitimate products but pirated products mostly from the Far East. The result is that the Nigerian nation and Nigerians in the creative industry are losing a huge amount of money. If we are serious about dealing with the massive unemployment in our country, the Nigerian nation cannot afford these losses anymore and must act with its might at the highest level. It is an emergency. Entertainment which is very attractive to young people is one area where Nigeria has significant comparative advantage'.

Earlier in his keynote address, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) had said that the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, as the nation's statutory agency charged with the promotion of non-oil exports, in fulfillment of its mandate, has identified the entertainment industry as part of the four priority sectors for promotion under the services' sector medium term implementation plan. According to Mr. Awolowo, in fulfillment of its commitment to develop the industry, the NEPC in 2010 and 2011 took some Nigerian entertainment practitioners on a road show to Namibia and Kenya respectively, with a view to bonding and networking with other entertainment practitioners, as well as charting a structured distribution channel and synergy in those countries.

Mr. Awolowo also said that the relevant government agencies in the sector have been assembled to ensure that a holistic approach is adopted in order to find a common solution to all impediments that have bedeviled the industry. Said Mr Awolowo, ''This forum will mark the beginning of yet another milestone in the development of non-oil export, from Nigeria as the entertainment industry has the capacity to generate substantial forex for the economy if well managed'.

Frontline stakeholders present at the forum were Mr. Mahmood Ali Balogun, Chairman, Audio Visual Rights Society (AVRS); Mr Ejike Asiegbu, former President of Actors Guild of Nigeria; Chief Gab Okoye of Gabosky Films; Chief Don Pedro Obaseki, etc. Also present were top officers of the National Film Corporation (NFC), Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), National Film & Video Censors Board (NFVCB), Bank of Industry (BOI), Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) etc.

Mayree Uket
New Media