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Akwashiki… Interacting With Information Agencies At Late Hours

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Minister Of Information, Patricia Akwashiki

Minister Of Information, Patricia Akwashiki

ONE of the last assignments that Mrs. Patricia Akwashiki performed as Minister of Information was to visit key agencies under her supervision.

The visit, which took place last week, according to aides of the Minister was to familiarize her with the activities of the agencies.

The Minister visited the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Voice of Nigeria (VON), National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) and the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB).

Although the visit formed part of the statutory duties of the Minister, stakeholders wonder how the visit would be of benefit to the information and motion picture industry when she has less than one week to the end of her tenure as Minister.

They observed and rightly too that she would not even be able to implement whatever notes that she took during the visits especially that she had submitted her handover notes several weeks back as directed by the outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan. So, the general feeling is that the visit is mere formality and should be considered as such.

But the Minister was impressed with what she met on ground in most of the agencies visited. When she visited the NFVCB, she commended the agency for its regulatory activities in the film industry. The Minister said that she came to congratulate the Board on behalf of the President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.

She remarked that the visit has afforded her team “the opportunity of interacting with the Director General, Ms. Patricia Bala and the management team on the functions of her organisation (NFVCB) and other matters.” The Minister who recalled her screen roles on the set of the popular TV serial, Village Headmaster noted that Nollywood was an important industry and charged the Board to see to the projection of a positive image for Nigeria through film.

Earlier in her welcome remarks, Ms Bala, informed the Minister of the Board’s efforts in carrying out its mandate in the face of dwindling resources. The Minister and her entourage were later taken round various departments of the Board including the film preview rooms where she acquainted herself with the processes of film censorship and verification.

The Minister was at the NFC. There, she stated that Nigeria’s Motion Picture Industry would continue to wallow in some of the challenges inherent in the sector, except it is regulated.

Akwashiki noted that, the practices of filmmaking should no longer be unregulated.  The sector, she said must come under regulation to enable its potentials be adequately harnessed for growth and development.

The take off of the Motion Picture Practitioners Council (MOPICON) she therefore said, is long overdue. MOPICON, the Minister said will provide the basis of who to practice the art and business of filmmaking in Nigeria, which has been suffering from content, technical competencies and advancement, despite its achievements.

The Bongos Ikwue led Board of Directors of the Nigerian Film Corporation was also commended for its endorsement of the takeoff of the MOPICON.

Also, Senator Akwashiki, whose itinerary included her attendance of the 2014 /2015 Matriculation of the National Film Institute (NFI) Jos, commended managements of the Nigerian Film Corporation and University of Jos for sustaining the needed partnership in film training for Nigerians.

In her address at the Matriculation Ceremony, the Information Minister said the Nigerian Film Sector was equally set to maximize its full potentials as one of the world’s greatest film industries with its admission as the second African nation into the prestigious International Federation of Film Producers Association (FIAPF) since 2011.  “Domestic and foreign windows of opportunity, partnerships and collaborations shall continue to receive appropriate endorsement by government,’’ she said.

Earlier, the Vice Chancellor of University of Jos, Prof. Hayford Mafuyai, said the partnership between the University of Jos and the National Film Institute has increased the fortunes of both institutions and the opportunity for research and studies in Film Production.  University of Jos, he said, will continue to provide the enabling environment for a sustainable affiliation of the National Film Institute to University of Jos.

Chairman, Governing Council of the National Film Institute and Managing Director, NFC Dr. Danjuma Dadu, addressing the 162 students who matriculated, said the Institute’s philosophy was to train job creators and not job seekers. Places visited by the Minister included the sound stage, equipment storage and the recording studio of the National Film Institute and the Permanent Site and Headquarters of the Nigerian Film Corporation, all in Jos.

At the permanent site, NFC Boss informed the Minister that the land which measures 160.5 hectares was acquired from Plateau State Government and the Corporation efforts in providing the approved designed infrastructure at the site has been hampered by funds.  The Private Public Partnership (PPP) option, Dadu said was being explored to enable the corporation grapple with the problems of infrastructural development at the permanent site.

At the Headquarters of the Corporation, the Minister, amongst others places visited the newly installed Ultra Modern Edit Suit that is over compliant with the digital migration from analogue to digital broadcast transmission.

The Edit Suit, an Apple 4k workstation, whose capacity and features are incredibly spectacular, has six thunderbolt 2 ports and can connect to SAN or fast local RAID storage.

Other features include accelerated effects, optical flow analysis, video export, AMD FirePro with the capacity to deliver 24 virtual cores in Audio. The Edit Suit, Dadu said would be commercialized under a Special Purpose Vehicle.

Despite the activities of the Nigerian Film Corporation since its establishment in 1979, lack of capacity to enforce existing film policies, uncertainties of Government policy thrusts on motion picture, industry association and guilds fragmentation, resistances of filmmakers to be regulated, absence of support systems and film production infrastructure, piracy, film distribution and marketing and the obsolete Nigerian Film Corporation Act, Dadu said are some of the challenges being faced by the NFC.


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