Investing in Nollywood for Promotion of Cultural Diplomacy and National Security
Nurat Tosin YUSUF-AUDU
University of Maiduguri
Maiduguri, Borno State
Nollywood can be identified as a unique industry that surpasses cultural and religious bias. The unity which the country yearns for is embedded in this industry which has generated employment for the teaming youths, enhance creativity and redeem Nigeria’s image abroad positively. This creativity industry, according to credible sources, has in this year 2015, generated eight hundred million dollars and is the second largest employer of labour in the Nigerian economy. The industry, however, battles with the problem of lack of government intervention in research and funding, post production problems for quality technological finesse, distribution problems, piracy, and quality control. This study seeks the urgent need for the solutions for these problems and investing in Nollywood sector will promote the film industry for cultural diplomacy and national security. Data for analysis were generated through explorative and documentary studies. The study therefore proffers recommendation on how improvement can be achieved on the industry for economic development. Finally, it concludes that the Nollywood industry is a strong avenue for development and an investing in it will at the long run bring human capital development for the country.
The positive attention which our country Nigeria desperately yearns for is being brought to bear by the Nollywood industry. The problem of incessant attack on innocent civilians by the extremists group, kidnapping and ritual killings, the menace of corruption, devaluation of the naira have all left negative image about Nigeria on other nations. Nigerians are being looked down upon by other European, Asian and even fellow African nations and maltreated badly with cases of constant assault by uniformed men and other civilians on Nigerian citizens. The Nollywood industry through entertaining and educative video films has tremendously helped in salvaging the country’s image abroad.
With this positive image making of Nollywood and generation of revenue, there is therefore the need to invest in the industry for more generation of revenue and cultural collaborations with the outside world. In the case of national security where the government wants to protect the country due to a crisis or disaster; the devaluation of the naira, high inflation, insecurity, unemployment are crisis that needs urgent solution. It is imperative for the government to invest its resources into the Nollywood industry for employment opportunities and economic prosperity.
Through Nollywood, cultural diplomacy is established. Nollywood actors and actresses have exchanged ideas and are still exchanging ideas from people of other nations through participation in Hollywood films and vice versa. Relationships are strengthened and socio- cultural cooperation is enhanced. Investment of the Nigerian economy into Nollywood will bring a robust economy and an increment on the Nation’s foreign exchange revenue.
Objective of Study
The major objective of this research is to serve as an eye opener to the federal government in the need to invest in Nollywood in order to foster human and capital development.
Significance of the study
The study would be useful to the government and stake holders who are not conscious of the capital growth and human development embedded in the Nollywood sector. The federal government will benefit from investing in Nollywood as it will boost the economy through the large production and sales of Nollywood films. It will create more jobs to people just like it has always done when it had little or no government support. It will serve as an avenue for cultural collaborations between countries abroad. It will increase the country’s foreign exchange avenue and enhance creativity among youths.
The Meeting between Bank of Industry (BoI) and Nollywood
On Tuesday, 2nd June, 2015, the Managing Director/CEO of Bank of Industry (BoI), Mr. Rasheed Olaoluwa organized a meeting with stake holders in Nollywood including the executive producers, producers, directors, veterans, actors and actresses, and the media practitioners. The meeting which theme was on “the need to fund Nollywood in order for the industry to meet first class standard and the importance of having world class movie studios for post production.” He said it is high time post production take place in the country instead of the usual taking of movies to abroad for post production.
Issues of piracy, funding, distribution, monitoring of cash flow, structures for shooting as well as training and research constitutes key issues that were discussed. Mr Olaoluwa mentioned how technology can be used to curb piracy to the barest minimum level. He states that research will be conducted as to how Hollywood and Bollywood film industries are being funded so that their pattern of funding can be emulated for the Nollywood industry. He pointed out that other commercial banks should support the industry so every movie supported will be successful in order for capital development to be enhanced.
The MD states that the amount of one billion naira will be invested in the industry and this capital base will continuously be reviewed upward. He said however monitoring of cash flow from cinemas is important for checks and balances. The stake holders thanked the management of BOI and state that special training should be assisted for professionalism sake. Veteran actress, Joke Silva mentions that piracy is a major evil which the Nollywood industry has been battling with since its inception. She said the laws governing piracy should be amended and enforced so that perpetrators will be duly punished. Apart from training, which Mr. Sanni Mua’zu emphasized, he mentioned that there should be bench mark for quality control for the production of movies as well as advanced technical support for distribution of movies.
Mr. Olaoluwa added that community viewing centres will be encouraged so that investors can invest in these viewing centres as this will allow the people at the grass root to have access to watch Nollywood movies. The stake holders in Nollywood agreed that there should be strategic meeting between the culture and tourism, army, police so that the industry can know the gallant nature of their mode of work for easy collaborations in movie productions.
They also mentioned that copy right laws should be strictly complied with and customary waver for importation of movie equipment should be adequately put in place. The meeting ended with the actors and actresses thanking the managing director of BOI as well as his team for wanting to revamp the Nollywood industry. They said the assembling of different people of different strata for the meeting is remarkable, timely and laudable.
Repositioning Nollywood for Promotion of Nigeria’s Cultural Diplomacy
The meeting between the bank of industry and Nollywood necessitates the importance for the country to reposition its resources into the Nollywood sector. The Bank of Industry search into the Nollywood film industry is a first step of political birth. Political birth in the sense that the industry have since its inception stands on its own as an individual video making organization with funds from business men in the Onitsha market with little or no political interference or assistance. The first intervention the industry receives was on the 24th January, 2015 when former President Good luck Jonathan gave an intervention fund of 2 billion naira Innovation Distribution Fund (IDF) aimed at improving the distribution of films, cutting down piracy and better protect intellectual property in the industry. This fund generated controversy in the industry. The charting of the road by the Bank of Industry towards intervention in research, piracy, funding, distribution, monitoring of cash flow, structures for shooting as well as training and research are great efforts towards revamping the industry.
Barclays Ayakoroma states that every film is a representation of the economic, social, political, religious, cultural, and technological developments of the producing country. In the light of this, it means that the government and all stake holders have to take a decision as to invest in Nollywood. Realistically, before the country invests in the Nollywood industry and makes it another generation of revenue, political events in the industry have to be pictured. The administration of the industry has to be duly known in the case of who receives revenue and how it is going to be spent. This is for accountability sake. Also, Hollywood and Bollywood film industries have to be critically looked upon. Sahara Reporters, in 2013, wrote that the American film industry (Hollywood) is the leader in delivering cinematic experiences to audiences in a way that producers big bucks at the box office. Hollywood produced 655 movies and these movies were shown in more than 8,000 theatres, this generated $10.7 billion in box office revenue. About 1.3 billion movie tickets were sold at an average price of $7.9 per ticket and this does not include video distribution or other licensing income. The Nollywood industry also records its success with high box office after the sales of the movie, Ije, which brought in about $473,000 (source?). The highest gross Hollywood movie in 2012 was Marvel’s The Avengers with a budget of $222 million. It opened across 4,347 theatres and bought in $623 million in the US and another $888 million worldwide (source?).
Recently though, the production of movies like 30 days in Atlanta and October 1st also recorded increased box office. In 2014, Ted Johnson, a senior officer of NET Newspapers wrote that President Barack Obama raised money for House and Senate candidates at the home of Walt Disney Studios chairman, Alan Horn and his wife, Cindy, in an effort to boost Hollywood films. This goes to say the kind of support Hollywood is getting. The success which the Nollywood film industry has recorded also has to be considered. Their achievements since inception and in recent times are a great developmental strides for the nation.
Nigeria’s revenue comes majorly from the sales of crude oil, and recently agriculture. The immediate past Honourable Minister of Agriculture and the current African Development Bank president, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has revived the dead agricultural sector in the country. The efforts of rice production, processing and distribution in the country as well as cassava production and export are monumental achievements by the minister which needs sustainable continual process by whosoever becomes the new Agricultural minister. However, considering the Nollywood industry which has been on ground and continually recording success across the globe, government’s diversification will be an easy process for quick development. In 2015, 30 Days in Atlanta is the latest movie with highest box office so far (source?). With the problem of post-production facility centres, inadequacy of theatre houses for the sale of tickets, piracy and distribution problems, Nollywood industry still strive on its own. When government takes over the entertainment sector and the problems highlighted are solved, huge percentage of box office returns will be generated
In terms of cultural collaborations, movies like, Osuofia in London, Close Enemies, Ije, Dr. Bello, 30 Days in Atlanta, and October 1 are amongst Nollywood movies that have cultural collaborations with the Hollywood film industry and have been rated high to be best selling movies in their year of releases.
It is quite relieving to watch on television that the bank of industry has taken interest in the Nollywood industry which has yearn for attention in order to meet its foreign counterpart; Hollywood. The meeting with Nollywood veterans, producers and actors of the likes of Joke Silva, Kunle Afolayan, Sanni Mua’zu and host of others depicts a positive light in which the industry is ready to continue to dwell on creativity and positive image making.
Academic writers have written on Nollywood industry and have criticized constructively on the pattern the industry should follow for it to be at the top hence, the need for the government to look to these works as guidelines in order to invest in the Nollywood industry. Currently, the president mentions that the economy of the country is in a bad light and there is urgency to revamp the NNPC but the petroleum industry can not all continue to be the nation’s main source of income.
It is hoped that the meeting will not be only on talk basis so that the needed fund is given to the industry and these funds are monitored just as mentioned and they are purposively utilized for the growth of the industry. When the government invests in Nollywood, a meeting with the custom and naval officers should take place so that adequate equipments for the shooting of films will be shipped down and the era of these uniformed men seizing some of these equipments for shoot will be abolished. There will also be collaboration between these officers so that good scripting and scene design of films will be efficiently made. With these employment opportunities are guaranteed for the army of youths unemployed, creativity and cultural collaborations will be enhanced and the dwindling economy will be revamped for infrastructural development
Ayakoroma, Barclays F. “Reinventing the Political Process in Nigerian Films: A Critical Reading of Teco Benson’s The Senator.” Paper Presented at SONTA, 2014.
Ted, Johnson. “Obama’s Intervention Fund to Hollywood.” NET Newspapers, 2014.
Sahara Reporters.com of 23 Jan. 2013. Retrieved on 24 June, 2015.