Ghana can't ban Nigerian actors, we're important to them—Segun Arinze
RECENT reports had it that Ghana's movie association slammed a thousand dollar levy on Nigerians who want to shoot movies on their soil. Did you expect this from them?
There is nothing that shouldn't be expected from this industry or any other because there is a lot of interest. But the truth is that there is no ban from anywhere at all. It is not true that Nigerians have been banned from performing in their country.
It's not true that Ghanaians have imposed a levy on Nigerians who now want to produce their movies in the country or use their locations in movies?
What they are asking is a form of protection levy.
Protection from what?
Not protection from, but protection of. They are trying to protect the interest of their own people in the industry. Lately, a lot of Nigerians have been flooding Ghana to produce their movies and over there, you are given value for money.
So you can't get value for your money in Nigeria?
My brother, forget patriotism now, there are no infrastructures on ground in Nigeria to give you any financial value for now. Is it electricity?The ministry is not doing much in terms of making locations available. For instance, you can't just use major tourist centres to shoot movies in Nigeria. It's not like that in countries that have harnessed the potentials in movie productions for their economic growth. Do you think I will be allowed to use any part of Aso Rock to shoot a movie, while Americans used to have access to the White House until producers started constructing make shift White House? The Krugger Park in South Africa is available to movie producers, can you say same for Yankari Games reserve?.
Do you have such opportunities in Ghana?
There is a standard in Ghana. Movie is big in the country, even in Nigeria, but we don't have enough support from government. We have shouted ourselves hoarse on the problem of piracy, yet we've not seen anything from our government. To even think they are only to formulate policies that will improve the industry, and also put in place enforcement agencies, are the reasons they are heads of parastatals. As abundant as oil is in this country, it is well regulated. That's why they can say this much comes in, that much comes in, and punishment is meted out on bunkerers. But a bigger and long term money spinning resource than oil is being neglected by those who have access to power and they are not seeing it. The money from entertainment will turn this country around if our government shows just a little interest.
Still on protection, are you trying to justify our neighbours $1,000 levy?
If we had the infrastructures, do you think Nigerians would be taking their movies to Ghana? It costs millions to produce a movie here, even with stress, but much less over there and the quality of job is twice what you get here. Following the ban report, the information minister in Ghana called me last week to say it was not true that they had banned Nigerians from using Ghana as locations in their movies. That call tells me that the country is benefitting from our roles in their nation's development and that their leaders are close to the people. How can a minister know what we face when he doesn't get close to us? Until a lot of wrongs are made right, the brain-drain will continue.
Do you think the retaliatory $2,500 slam makes sense?
Retaliatory, no. It's only a coincidence that the pronouncement came, at that time, but as I talk to you, not everybody agrees to that amount yet. I think COSAN came up with that, so I won't talk about it because I don't know enough. I only know that they are our brothers in the industry, we can't destroy the relationship we've been building with them.
Talking about relationships, how has marriage been?
I don't want to talk about it.
Are you not happy, proud to be married?
Oga Tade, I have made up my mind not to discuss my personal life again on the pages of papers.
A simple yes or no will do. Are you sure you are happy to be tied to a woman?
Smiles. Think whatever you want, I'm not talking.
That you are illegally occupying the number one seat of the Actors''Guild of Nigeria deserves a sealed lip too?
Who says it is illegal? The BOT conducted an election that produced me as the president.
That's the snag. Your colleagues are protesting the manner of your emergence, saying that the BOT has no right to conduct elections
They don't know the constitution well. They are allowed to steer the affairs of the guild in a manner fit for its perfect running, especially in a time of crisis.
With Emeka Ike emerging on the other side, would you say the crisis is over?
There is no crisis in AGN, I am the president, Ike is an impostor. He's my guy though, we are cool.
When last did you hear from Funke Akindele, you guys were the hottest couple then.
Funke is living her life, I'm happy she's moving up fast. Greet her for me when you see her.
Because you guys see whoever you want to see. Please, help us to get the government to see the potentials in the nation's entertainment industry.
Has your friend, Sammie Okposo, got over the shocking deal he got in Scotland?
Please ask him, I don't have any information on that.