By Rotimi Ijikanmi
Abuja, Sept. 21, 2020 The Federal Government on Monday called on states to provide necessary infrastructure for the growth of the film industry to create wealth and employment for youths.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja while inaugurating the Steering Committee for the Reform and Commercialisation of the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Government is partially commercialising the NFC to effectively discharge its mandate to plan, promote, organise and co-ordinate the development of the motion picture industry in the country.
Inaugurating the committee, the minister underscored the need for states to invest in infrastructure to boost the film industry because of its potentials to create jobs and boost the economy
Relying on International Monetary Fund data, Mohammed said the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, is the second largest employer of labour and contributed N893 billion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015.
The minister also noted that Nollywood could perform better if the needed infrastructure such as film houses and enabling environment were provided.
In a comparative analysis, the minister disclosed that Nigeria has only 142 cinema houses compared to South Africa with 782 cinema houses.
According to him, the US has 40,393 cinema houses while India and China have 11,209 and 50,976 cinema houses respectively.
“You cannot have a successful film industry without adequate cinema houses because the major revenue source of the industry is exhibition .
“The most successful film in Nigeria today is “Wedding Party 1 and 2” that grossed about two million dollars within a week through the cinema houses.
“You can imagine a gross of 2 million dollars using only 142 cinema houses, and how much the film would have grossed if we have about 1000 cinema houses for exhibition,” he said.
“That is why it is important to appeal to our state governments to invest in infrastructure in the industry.
“I do not think it will be too much for the state government to ensure they build one cinema house in each local government area of their states to give us an additional 774 cinema houses in the country.
“In India, 14 million people attend cinema daily and I can imagine the impact it will have on the economy,” he said.
The minister also underscored the need for states to look into building purpose-built arenas for concerts and shows to encourage creative artists.
“I will advise state governments to look into having arenas in each senatorial district or one in the state capital.
“I do not know of any place where we have purpose-built arena today because most places where we have concerts are not purpose-built.
“We have artists in Nigeria that can sell out anywhere in the world; Burna boy, Wiz Kid and Davido sold out in Arena 02 in London and in other big arenas over the world.
“The biggest arena in Nigeria which is not even purpose-built can only accommodate about 7000 people whereas the Arena 02 in London accommodates up to 20,000 people,” he said.
The minister also canvassed for easy acquisition of land and tax waivers for artistes and investors who would like to build cinema houses or invest generally in the industry.
He noted that apart from wealth and employment creation, promoting the film industry would help to build inclusion and reduce social tension.
The minister noted that the intention of the administration is to make Nigeria the capital of entertainment in Africa,
He said though the film industry had been largely driven by the private sector, the Federal Government had been supporting the industry by providing enabling environment and funding.
“In 2013, there was “Project Nollywood” in which the government made available to the sector about 17 million USD for the growth and promotion of the industry.
“I am also aware of the various multilateral injection of funds to this industry and we have also embarked on revolutionary reforms to reposition the industry,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Alex Okoh, the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), said with the tremendous potentials of the film industry to reposition the nation’s economy, the government needed to play a prominent role.
Okoh said that the government was reforming the NFC to take the leading role in harnessing the potentials in the sector.
He, however, clarified that the reform process “is not a privatisation of the corporation but the commercialisation of this important enterprise and agency of government.”
“The clarification is that in this reform process, there is no transfer of ownership, no sale of shares and no privatisation of the entity.
“It is basically to ensure the resident value of the enterprise and its commercial viability,” he said.
He said the steering committee being chaired by the minister would consider and approve the recommendations submitted by the project delivery team for the commercialisation of the corporation.
Other members of the steering committee inaugurated by the minister were Okoh, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs Grace Gekpe and the Managing Director of NFC, Chidia Maduekwe.
The Director Information and Communication of BPE, Dikko Mohammed, will serve as the Secretary of the committee.