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Imperatives of creative industry under incoming authority

By Yinka Ogundaisi
08 April 2015   |   5:49 am
Nigeria today has 774 constitutionally-recognized local government areas. On the average, every local government has 10 communities and in each community is at least a cultural monument or site presentable as a tourist attraction.
Theatre- Image source hartfordstage

Theatre- Image source hartfordstage

This is an unsolicited input into the public policy on the Nigerian Culture, Tourism, Broadcasting and Entertainment sectors for the incoming governments at all levels. It gives useful insight into the humongous potentials in all the aforementioned sectors to assist the governments in overcoming our many economic, social and value-perception challenges. If accepted and taken seriously, it will lead to sustainable alternative source of foreign revenue-earner.

Executive summary and problem statement: The country’s arts, culture, broadcasting and entertainment sectors in the absence of well-articulated governmental administrative policies and procedures have for long and till now been operating as a huge jungle in which whatever works for the privileged few, either with access to the powers that be or public information platforms are invariably and mistakenly taken as norms, and in most cases supersede even various extant legislations.

There are already enough laws which if backed up with necessary administrative strategies have the capacity to lead us out of our present woes; reposition the sectors for our governments to maximize their huge potentials to resolve most of our economic, social and value-perception challenges. There is absolutely no need for the incoming administrations to waste further time on new legislations, or setting up committees because the right pathways are clear enough.

Culture and tourism
Nigeria today has 774 constitutionally-recognized local government areas. On the average, every local government has 10 communities and in each community is at least a cultural monument or site presentable as a tourist attraction. The inhabitants of each community also produce goods, services and have lifestyles which to their unsophisticated minds do not have any economic value but in the hands of experts to package for the global market will command considerable appeal.

Taken together, Nigeria at a glance and for a cursory economic evaluation has 7740 tourist sites and same no of communities whose daily lives and output could constitute our sustainable national cultural tourism programme; serving also as our own unique cultural products for exports.

Every week, the country has about 150 locations staging different kinds of cultural events and different cultural monuments that tourists could choose from. It is therefore possible to immediately develop a national cultural tourism index without new legislations, budgets, or setting up committees.

All we need do is charge the relevant agencies to immediately chart their implementable time-table to actualize it. A useful incentive to start off is to put all arts and cultural agencies on a 2-year notice of zero budgets with achievable internally-generated revenue for their governments.

Our arts and culture administrators currently have a wrong mindset that needs re-programming! Their appalling belief is that lack of or inadequate capital budgets hinder them to properly develop and structure our culture for tourism but pray, what do they require capital budgets for? Yes, a little initial seed money is required for preliminary activities but this could be easily sourced either as a bank loan or grants from various commercial enterprises that will also benefit from a structured cultural tourism programme.

Most if not all the various ancient sacred temples forming the bulk of India cultural and spiritual tourism sites remain in the inner recesses of the country and accessible only through the same footpaths of many hundreds, if not thousands of years! In the Alps frozen with ice all year round; Switzerland and other countries of the world that mountain-climbers and skiers frequent, their locals are gainfully engaged as guide and trainers. In Italy and Spain, the ruins of their former emperors’ castles are their tourists’ sites.

Conversely in Nigeria, our cultural administrators want capital budgets to recruit “experts”, erect 5-star hotels and modern highways in their misguided notion that targets only the holiday-makers for tourism but leaves out the core tourists; students, researchers, archaeologists and explorers.

We must stop using government money to build hotels around tourist locations or to construct highways because it is wrong! First it detracts from the real cultural value of the locations, which from what obtains in India, Italy, Spain should be in-sittu.

Beyond this, hotels and roads constructions are commercial ventures, which with the necessary traffic of tourists will naturally rouse entrepreneurs to do the needful.

Advertisements and broadcasting
A former Director-General of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission engaged me on a strategy to reposition the broadcasting industry as a veritable source of employments for mainly our youths and veterans of the creative industry. Unfortunately since his unplanned exit, subsequent leaders have been focusing more on the technicalities of frequency allocations which in today’s world is practically useless.

What restriction is there on a station given the authority to cover a particular region but is available on the net for anyone across the globe to access? The huge social/economic potentials in the area of modeling, products and public advertisements are conveniently ignored. Today companies freely recruit foreign models or produce their advertisements abroad.

The cost of a TV programme parading mainly foreign cast and crew with few locals in the name of local content is higher than what many stations grudgingly give 10 Nigerian producers yet we have NBC! Rather our local cuisines and fashions, the foreigners are calling the shots! Now we have a problem of value-perception emulating alien culture and avoidable medical problems emanating from the consumption of foreign products?

Creative arts and entertainment
Creative writings and audio-visual productions are intertwined with the constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of expression. Sensible countries therefore steer clear of legislating on those that can or cannot engage in them. Enforceable control and regulation are two-fold; first by the various practioners’ guilds that disallow non-members from operating; like in journalism for journalists only. Second is through the licensed distributors as the business arm. They decide what is produced; how and when it gets to the public.

The National Film & Video Censors Board is the agency with the legal mandate to regulate distribution. It developed a New Distribution and Exhibition Framework, NDEF for that purpose. Unfortunately, its present leadership believes that the best way to solve a problem is to pretend it doesn’t exist! It has therefore tactically abandoned the NDEF, focusing instead on classification and censorship, ignoring the reality that without an operational NDEF, all its decisions on censorship and classifications are of no effect.

That is why despite yearly budgetary allocations in billions, our public space is still awash with offensive movies and music! To effectively contain all the challenges in the industry, full implementation of NDEF is a must, better to be championed by the Board already legally-empowered but now wholly funded by NEXIM which by its exclusive mandate is responsible for developing and funding Nigerian entertainment products for exports.

New anti-piracy law is needless because Nigeria already has one of the best in the world. Absence of licensed operators of the distribution system to administer and simplify its enforcement is the issue. The NFVCB and the rudderless Film Corporation must immediately be excised from government funding.