How Govt Can Save Nollywood From Collapse, By Ugbomah
IN spite of several billions of naira government has so far poured into Nigeria’s film industry, also known as Nollywood, no film of note has yet come out of such financial incentive. And not much will come out of that investment either if the recent prognosis of the industry given by veteran filmmaker, Chief Eddie Ugbomah, is to be taken seriously.
“Upon all the money Jonathan has put into Nollywood, what new films have they produced?” he queried.
Ugbomah categorically argued that South African cable company MultiChoice and its AfricaMagic channel are the ultimate ruin of the industry if not checked through appropriate legislation that would forced them to behave responsibly towards the industry and not treat it with disdain with a view to destroying it as is currently the case.
According to Ugbomah, who does not mince words, “MultiChoice exploits and destroys Nigerian films, as they no longer sell in the open market; films are shown repeatedly on its channels. I’m asking government to nationalise MultiChoice; it has become a big nuisance to Nigerian films.
“Without knowing it Multi-Choice is bringing the GDP down; it has sent over 1000 Nigerians out of jobs. The unfortunate things is that all these groups from Nollywood going to Abuja to see President Goodluck Jonathan don’t say anything serious to him about what hurts the industry most. MultiChoice should be nationalised or made to put money, not less than N500 million, in a film fund to be set up.”
Ugbomah is angry that the South African cable company has taken advantage of the loopholes in Nigeria’s laws to treat filmmakers with disrespect. For instance, he said the cable company through its new arm, AfricaMagic Epic films, commission films that are never censored, a situation that cannot be tolerated in the company’s home country. He, therefore, came down hard on regulators for failing to do their job properly. He singled out a former censors’ board boss for its misdeeds, as he brought the cable company to Nigeria.
Ugbomah also accused Nollywood guild heads of selling out on their industry by not asking hard questions of the cable company. Ugbomah particularly accused one of them of doing deals with the company.
He said, “he ought to spearhead the fight but he had his films bought handsomely by MultiChoice. Of the three guild heads, only Ibinabo Fiberesima has proven herself relevant; she is building a film house in Abuja. I gave the three of them three assignments; one is to form Motion Pictures Practitioners Council of Nigeria; to build a Film House and to set up a Film Fund, which ought to be launched with fanfare to raise money for the industry. But they all failed.”
Also, Ugbomah’s disappointment seems boundless. At 74, he wants to celebrate his 50 years in film business, but governors of Lagos State, where he’s plied his trade and that of Delta State, hishome state – Raji Fashola and Emmanuel Uduaghan – don’t seem to be forthcoming after making promises to boost the celebration. But undaunted, the elder filmmaker is forging ahead.
According to him, “I’m trying to salvage my disappointment. All the promises made by Emmanuel Uduaghan, who gave me such hope of moving my gallery from Lagos to Asaba, a film village, my 74th birthday didn’t happen. Unfortunately, all politicians don’t seem honourable men, are they? They don’t seem to have any shame, do they, when they give somebody false hope? Now, I’ve spent money interviewing old musicians and have produced 78 colour portraits, all financed by me.
“It’s such a shame and I can never forget the Uduaghan scare in my life. When he made the promises, election had not even started. He’d bragged just how he’d shut down government in Asaba just to make something out of this celebration. The disappointment is so great from all sides that looked forward to the event”.
Ugbomah said he was moving the gallery to Abuja for the world to see it since Uduaghan failed to host it in Asaba, as promised. For him the gallery with portraits of moviemakers and musicians and TV documentary interviews with moviemakers and musicians would seem fitting fulfillment in itself for a man who has been unrelenting is the cultural projection of Nigeria through films. Two landmark films he intends to make are Aba Women’s Riot and Adaka Boro.
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