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NOLLYWOOD TOO IMPORTANT TO BE IGNORED, SAYS OBASANJO

Source: nigeriafilms.com

By Justin Akpovi-Esade and Nkechi Onyedika (Abuja). The Guardian

The minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr. Frank Nweke Jnr. said it like the President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo would have, were he to be present at the event-the film industry is just too important to be ignored.

The occasion was the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) launch of its Nigerian In The Movie project at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.

Nweke who represented Chief Obasanjo, said that the home video sub-sector has been credited with annual production in excess of a thousand products. "I agree, as already argued in the academic realm, that perhaps with the exception of footballers and art, nothing in Africa exceeds in sheer value added than Nigeria's highest valued cultural production that is the movie industry, which is credited with annual revenues in excess of 200 million U.S. dollars".

The president referred to an edition of The New York Times in the spring of 2002 which "captured Nollywood's landmark in a piece entitled, Step Aside L.A. and Bombay, for Nollywood. Another influential medium, The Globe and Mail, underscored this thinking in the following words. "Bollywood produces the largest number of features per year at approximately 800, followed by Hollywood which puts out about 400 films yearly.

"Pulling into first place is Nigeria with 1000 feature films a year".

Obasanjo continued: "Indeed, we must do more in our circumstance with her over 140 million diverse people, our country, again, presents a great cultural and creative statement as Africa' s most resourceful market. Still, Nigeria is the pedigree of some of the best intellectual and sport icons in human history, and, indeed home to the most regionally benevolent and constructive diplomatic, political and military institutions in the world.

"This is why I continue to say we are too important to be ignored and if we undertake retrospection, we will see that our film industry has come a long way to express not just our potential but to articulate what makes us the Heart of Africa".

The nation's president paid kudos to home videos. "Today, the Nigerian movie scene has transformed both in content and form launching itself into global reckoning through a conscious utilization of the platforms of the digital media era and the cultural expressions of our people, yet conveying with it the totality of the creative flair, the industry and the artistry of the Nigerian people in all spheres of life."

It is incontestable Obasanjo said, that, Nigeria, as a critical and formidable hub of social, political and cultural influence in the African continent, provides vast influential platforms for the expression of perhaps the most astounding and diverse cultural promise, Nigeria is the habitat of the most liberal and robust media and it has emerged as a territory of amazingly beneficial trading opportunities. "With her over 140 million diverse people, our country, again, presents a great cultural and creative statement as Africa's most resourceful market. Still, Nigeria is the pedigree of some of the best intellectual and sport icons in human history, and, indeed home to the most regionally benevolent and constructive diplomatic, political and military institutions in the world."

The number one citizen went down memory lane. "From a humble beginning in 1903 when the first film exhibition held at the Glover Memorial Hall, Lagos, to 1970 when the indigenous feature film made its debut with Kongi's Harvest, the Nigeria film industry had set the tone for its future such that by 1990 some 80 indigenous feature films had been licensed by the censors board for public screening."

But it is not uhuru yet, Chief Obasanjo cautioned. "But we have not arrived at destination. These landmarks constitute a port in our journey. Our successful arrival at destination will depend on the depth of our understanding of our self worth as captured in the movies. This is because a nation could interpret her movie either as a slice of life or the totality of life", he added.

He faults the distribution network currently on ground even as he commended the National Film and Video Censors Board for the initiative. "The distribution sector, I believe, is a painful casualty of this oversight and I urge all of us to reflect on how this snag can be addressed and very quickly. I say this with all emphasis because of the centrality of effective and secured distribution to the generation of content and its connection to the growth of the film industry and its influence on the macro economy. I am therefore delighted to find that the framework for effective and secured distribution is the thrust of this initiative.

"Finally, I commend the National Film and Video Censors Board for this and other reformatory initiatives and I pledge Federal Government's continued support to the board and to the Nigerian Film Corporation as well as their partners in their determination to drive the reform processes in the film sector, to enhance the growth of our economy and the glory of our nation. In respect of support for this initiative, I single out for mention the strategic partnership provided by Transcorp Group, Celtel, Skye Bank and Zenith International Bank, which ensured the success of this historic and seminal forum."

In his remarks the Director General , National Film and Video Censors Board , Mr. Emeka Mba stated said the Nigeria in the Movies project is geared towards redefining the identity, influence and image of the country .

He noted that the project would address the issues of credibility, authenticity and marketability of Nigerian movies and raise the profile of Nollywood and the Nigerian film sector as an industry of strategic importance with global authentic influence for which the ultimate beneficiary is Nigeria.

Mba revealed that the board has formulated five major arms which would help enhance the achievement of its goal which includes, distribution framework, Nollywood Interactive, The Media Literacy project, Production Grant and International Road show.