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UNIABUJA VC asks govt to support Nollywood to aid economic growth

According to him, the Nollywood industry, being the second largest film industry in the world, is a multi-million dollar industry that can create wealth for the country.

Vice-Chancellor, University of Abuja (UniAbuja), Prof. Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah

Na’Allah said this at a three-day conference in honour of Onookome Okome, a Professor of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton Canada, on Wednesday in Abuja.

The theme of the conference is: “Decolonising African cinema in the age of media streaming”.

According to him, the Nollywood industry, being the second largest film industry in the world, is a multi-million dollar industry that can create wealth for the country.

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When you go all over the world, people have known Nigeria through Nollywood. Netflix is now showing Nigerian movies regularly.

“If you fly any airline today and you go to watch a movie, you will see the African movie right there, that is a lot of money coming to Nigeria.

“The Nigerian government needs to create more support for Nollywood and Nollywood will change the fortune in terms of the economy of this nation,” he said.

He said that the Nollywood industry had taken the world by surprise by creating unique African films.

He also said that the event was the celebration of one of the brains that explained to the people the meaning of African film and cinema.

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On his part, Prof. Okome said that in 2010, Nollywood contributed four per cent to the Gross Domestic Product of the country which was very tremendous.

According to him, the country no longer gets this kind of return because the Western world has capitalised on the Nollywood industry.

“It is now all streaming and streaming which gives the filmmaker little money.

“The capitalisation of Nollywood is a very significant event in the industry. This is what is ruining Nollywood.

“Nollywood we know 10 years ago is a different one now, what Netflix does is to tell the filmmakers the kind of film they will make and what to put at every stage.

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“But that was not the original intention of Nollywood, the original intention of Nollywood is a very spontaneous cinema which takes its storyline from the grassroots or the street.

“But it is different now, what Netflix is doing is reimagining Nollywood in a way that will benefit them commercially,” he said.

He said that Netflix determines the industry now and makes corporate capital out of Nollywood.

Okome said that the situation would be difficult to reverse, adding that filmmakers needed money and would make any kind of film requested of them.

He added that his interest was in showcasing the culture and the way it influenced the way we live every day in Nigeria.

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Okome said it was time we started to discuss our art form and take control of it.

The original thing since independence is that the European creates knowledge for us and brings it to us.

“But for the very first time in the history of scholarship in this country, we created the knowledge and we gave it back to them.

“So, whatever they say will be complementary to what we do and we can contest that,” he said.

The Dean, Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, UniAbuja, Prof. Abdullahi Bashir, said the conference was an avenue to reflect on how far the nation had gone in the process of decolonisation.

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He said this reflection would help to show whether we were in the right place.

Bashir said that the issue of decolonisation had become more important with the advancement of information and technology.

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