The Nigerian government intends to ban production of music videos abroad. It's a silly plan that should be binned.
And it goes something like this: produce music videos at home and the faltering Nigerian economy would have been given a shot in the arm.
“This government has agreed that henceforth, whatever we consume in Nigeria in terms of music and films, must be made in Nigeria”, Mohammed said during a visit to the headquarters of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) in Lagos over the weekend.
The minister added that: “We cannot continue to go to South Africa or any other country to produce our films and then send them back to be consumed in Nigeria.
“The Broadcasting Code and the Advertising Code are very clear on this.
“For you to classify a product as a Nigerian product, it must have a certain percentage of Nigerian content.
“When they get there, they will patronise the economy of that country and then bring the products back to Nigeria for us to consume.
“It is like somebody going to China or Japan to make a product that looks like palm wine and bring it back home to label it Nigerian palm wine.
“It is Nigerians that pay for the consumption of these products and therefore they must be allowed and encouraged to participate in their production.
“I am going to meet with the relevant stakeholders over this, to see that whatever amendment that is needed to be made to our Broadcasting Code in this regard, is done urgently, ” he promised.
Coming from the same minister who recently frowned at why Big Brother Naija was being shot in South Africa instead of his beloved Nigeria, that was really some statement.
However, as has become typical of all public officials in Nigeria, Mr. Mohammed is putting the cart before the horse and we should help him.
What we should be worrying about is why shooting videos abroad has become very attractive for our creative sector.
A little over a year ago, I spent some time in the company of a filmmaker who explained Nigeria’s obsession with shooting music videos in South Africa, London or even Kenya--anywhere else but in Nigeria.
His reasons didn’t shock me. Production in Nigeria, he told me, is darn too expensive and fraught with challenges and risks. When ‘area boys’ or thugs aren’t asking you to pay up before setting up your camera and equipment, the louts are harassing the artiste to “wet ground” first. They practically hold the artiste and the crew to ransom. You could lose your equipment in the altercation.
Many a production has been delayed on account of the above.
Who wants to put up with that when you can fly out of the country and shoot your music video in peace and in locations designated for shooting videos--with all the ambience and picturesque background the world has to offer elsewhere?
Who wouldn’t want to shoot a music video in an environment where vixens won’t be harassed and held at gunpoint by ‘Omo oniles’?
My filmmaker friend also told me that the Nigerian dust, poor road surfaces and all that jazz, make for poor picture quality. He probably has a point there too.
The bigger point to be made, however, is that a government that wants to ban production of music videos abroad can’t even provide basic amenities like electricity, film studios, security and film villages for the entertainment sector.
A country that has made the young so disillusioned and that has deprived them over the years of all the good that life has to offer, has no right pointing them where to shoot their videos.
The entertainment sector in Nigeria has blossomed in spite of government. Our artistes have their works pirated and government looks the other way. Government provides zero grants and support for these artistes and wants to dictate to them where to shoot their videos?
I spent my teenage years in Festac Town, Lagos. That space once provided Nollywood and music video producers the kind of environment to make motion pictures; what with its serenity, boulevards and smooth road surfaces. Festac was the hub for Nigeria’s creative industry in the ‘90s. It was after all an environment modeled for the arts back in the ‘70s.
Today, Festac is a slum like everywhere else in Lagos. The little community is filthy, prone to crime and unkempt--abandoned by government. The same government that wants people to shoot their videos in this country.
Festac stands as a metaphor for all that is wrong with Nigeria and the country's entertainment sector.
Lai Mohammed should be told in clear terms that once Nigeria is fixed, artistes won’t bother hauling their equipment abroad to make videos.
Of course there are several artistes who still shoot music videos at home and we should salute their courage. However, those who don't, shouldn't be berated.
In any case, Mohammed and the APC led administration in which he serves should worry more about getting this country to work instead of threatening young artistes who have become the best ambassadors this nation has to offer at the moment.