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Pretty Okafor… Unlocking Nigeria’s N15 trillion creative economy

By Florence Utor
05 February 2017   |   3:23 am
It shows that this sector is contributing immensely to their various countries’ economies. Nigeria, too, can’t afford to be left behind and from research it has the potential to contribute about N15 trillion to...

Pretty Okafor, the President of Performing Musician’s Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN)

Creative Industry Has The Potential To Reflate Ailing Economy

Pretty Okafor is the current President of Performing Musician’s Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN). A member of the popular pioneer Naija Hiphop rap duo ‘Junior & Pretty’, the quiet, unassuming but resourceful musician-turned-entrepreneur recently shared his thoughts on a few issues affecting PMAN, the creative industry and Nigeria’s economy

The Economy And Recession
It has been two years since Nigeria went into recession, but we have no business doing so because we have vibrant entertainment and creative industries. The solution lies in fast-tracking a structured, organised entertainment and creative industry, one that is organised, transformed and monetised into a creative economy like it is done in developed countries. It’s not new, neither is it rocket science. Studies show that globally, creative and cultural industries are unaffected by the global financial crisis and they are acknowledged worldwide as having enormous potentials as engines that drive economic and social development. In the U.K., the creative economy contributes about 84.1 billon pounds a year to the U.K. economy, which is about 10 million pounds per hour! In the U.S., the value of the arts to the country’s GDP is about $700 billion.

It shows that this sector is contributing immensely to their various countries’ economies. Nigeria, too, can’t afford to be left behind and from research it has the potential to contribute about N15 trillion to the nation’s GDP. Nigeria’s entertainment and creative industries, more than any other sector, can contribute to the reflation of our economy. As number one in Africa and number three globally, the digitalization of the entire creative industry will help unlock the revenues inherent in it, and allow government take its share of taxes and reflate the economy.

Only the creative economy can provide revenues like oil as it does abroad that can address our current situation. This corroborates the statement made by the honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who said entertainment could get Nigeria out of recession and is also in tandem with the Vice President Professor Osinbajo’s position on diversifying the economy. Even recently, His Excellency the Executive governor of Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, stated that creativity must be explored to get Nigeria out of the recession and his government is looking into it.

As a matter of priority, the Federal Government has to give adequate attention, investment and focus to the entertainment and creative sector. It has to support the launch of the Nigerian creative industry through legislation, pronouncement, regulation and enforcement. Government’s input is important. PMAN is already in partnership with the Ministry of Information and Culture to develop the sector and curb piracy. This partnership must be taken to the next level as a matter of economic urgency. The partnership will help government unlock the value in the creative sector and boost revenue generation for Nigeria.

How To Unlock Nigerian Creative Economy, using G-Create.ng
G-Create.ng is the structure and application that is being used to transform the entire creative industry into creative economy with government support and backing. It is the digitalization of the creative industry. It will provide the requisite data for the entire industry and allow investors to track their return on investment (ROI) amongst other things. It also has other benefits accessible through a combo card called the PMAN biometric ID card.

The benefits include medical insurance for a subscriber and four family members; life insurance that provides the next of kin of subscriber members N5 million in the event of death. A pension plan that pays subscribers N100,000 monthly, a barcoding and encoding of creative works physically and electronically respectively, and royalty monitoring and collection and many other benefits.
Fighting Piracy

The G-Create.ng structure can monitor and track all the IP work coming out of Nigeria. This automatically reduces the piracy menace in Nigeria considerably. Technology, digitalization and smart networks are going to be deployed to tackle piracy. Piracy should be seen as economic sabotage and a crime that allows government to lose close to N10 trillion annually. It’s a huge leakage that must be blocked. A special enforcement unit as is done for drug trafficking and manufacturing like NDLEA and NAFDAC must be set up and given the powers of enforcement. Piracy must be seen as an economic crime; it must be addressed as such and dealt with the same way through government policy pronouncements and legislation.

PMAN’s Factionalisation And The Legitimacy Or Otherwise Of His Election
We were brought in through a court judgement as interim executive by Honorable Justice AO Abang of the Federal High Court to administer the affairs of the union and conduct credible elections for 18 months, according to the PMAN constitution. We fulfilled all the constitutional requirements to the letter for the first time in 16 years. In that period, we held three National Executive Council (NEC) meetings with delegates from states from all over the federation. Then we organised and held general national elections within the stipulated time with delegates also present. Calls were made to all and sundry to contest.

We had to hold the election in the early hours of the morning because we got wind that some disgruntled elements were about to cause trouble and disrupt the elections violently. We had to avoid such a scene. I emerged substantive president after the election as a few of the people contesting with me stepped down. Of a truth, I had initially refused to contest because of all the challenges I had encountered in trying to reorganise the union but many people, groups and organisations impressed it on me to contest and finish the work of the creative economy project we initiated as interim president, otherwise the process would be truncated and a great deal lost. I had a rethink and acceded to this request.

After the election, there were attempts to restrain us from calling ourselves as the legitimate PMAN officials, but Honourable Justice B.B. Kanyip of Industrial Court, Lagos, dismissed the application for lack of merit and evidence because there is nowhere in the trade union act that a minister can inaugurate a caretaker committee. That ruling still makes us the only legitimately elected and recognised PMAN executive. There is no faction in PMAN; only the activities of a few disgruntled elements, who want to stall the current efforts at economic recovery, are at work. This thing is bigger than any individual or group. Their plan is to commandeer something that they did not take part in creating and are not capable of managing, something that when fully implemented, has the potential to fully impact Nigeria’s economy positively.

Their action is also an act of economic sabotage and they must be sanctioned. My present exco and I are focused and forging ahead to make the realisation of the welfare of creative practitioners and make the creative economy a reality. We won’t be distracted and deterred. These disgruntled elements still want to go about cap in hand from one organisation to the other begging for funds. That era is over. Our industry can sustain itself and the economy, and we are committed to making sure this happens. These disgruntled elements converted and sold PMAN’s land in Abuja illegally, sold PMAN’s national secretariat in Lagos and all that was in it.

Without sounding antagonistic, they have nothing to offer. In spite of all these, we have reached out to them on many occasions and reached out the olive branch to them, trying to get them to understand that it is not business as usual and what we are doing will accommodate them adequately, but they are unrepentant. They simply want to destroy the union. They want to truncate the launch of our economic recovery programme through the G-Create.ng and set us back many years. They have made several attempts on my life and family and some members of my exco, but we are still unresolved and undeterred to ensure the N15 trillion Nigerian Creative Economy comes on stream.