Dr. Chidia Maduekwe is the new Managing Director/Chief Executive of the Nigeria Film Corporation. In this interview with ANDREW ESSIEN, he shares his plans on how his leadership plan to turn the agency to a platform for the exposition and promotion of Nigeria’s cultures, traditions, norms and values.
What does this appointment mean to you?
This appointment as Chief Executive and this meeting offers another opportunity to begin again. Our present situation as a country with dwindling oil revenue demands that we think outside the box to make our corporation more relevant in a fast- changing and challenging world.
We have the opportunity to produce films for the largest economy and market on the continent of Africa and for export to earn foreign exchange for our nation and people. As a Corporation it is our duty to develop the huge potentials of the Nigerian film industry, create employment, generate wealth, and help diversify the economy with a view to reducing poverty.
These are all in line with President Buhari’s CHANGE AGENDA. Furthermore, it is our political mandate to restore the dignity of our people and nation through cultural revival and push back the onslaught of cultural imperialism that is ravaging the psyche and world view of our young ones through the quality and content of our films and cinematography.
What strategies will you be bringing on board to repisition the corporation?
We shall seek collaboration with professionals in the industry, stakeholders, relevant government agencies and investors, with a view to synergising appropriately and create the needed impetus to propel the industry into higher orbit.
We will aspire to lead the industry from the vantage position of a government agency and use the platform as an enabler in a globally competitive industry. This way film making shall become a professionally rewarding calling and a profitable investment, impressive enough to attract credible foreign investments.
What approach are going to use in achieving these lofty goals?
As we embark on our new assignment, we should redouble our efforts towards ensuring that the Change Agenda of the President Buhari administration takes centre stage in our film industry. We must begin to showcase the positive values of our society and ensure that this generation and indeed future generations imbibe positive norms, ethos and values that can shape their thinking and attitudinal behaviours.
To enable us achieve our objectives, we beckon on all stakeholders to gird their loins for the arduous tasks ahead. We are not under any illusion that the task will be easy or that we can achieve it single-handedly, and for this reason we shall at all times seek the input of notable experts and players in the sector to enable us realize the vision of Mr. President.
We envision a film industry that will meet global standards, and serve as a means of employment generation for our teeming youths; create wealth for the practitioners and add to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Therefore, to successfully reposition the Nigerian film industry, we intend to lay emphasis on regular training, re-training and skills acquisition. We believe that these can be realized in collaboration with local and international partners.
How do you intend to theatre to enhance Nigeria foreign relations?
We intend to use the theatre to carry positive messages that will change existing negative perception of our country abroad. The new focus of our film Industry under my watch shall contribute massively towards a new national narrative of Nigeria and its citizens.
Our Nigerian civilization needs to interact with other civilizations to properly inform them of what true Nigeria means. Alternatively, our theatre shall henceforth, in addition to entertainment, aim at creating the hitherto elusive global fraternity and peace by educating and inspiring the rest of the world to honour our sacred heritage.
What is your plan for Nollywood?
Under the rebasing conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in 2013, the film industry accounted for more than 1.4% of GDP or $7.2bn of Nigeria’s economy. It is intended for Nollywood to contribute up to 10% of GDP under the present economic diversification agenda of PMB
Nigeria’s Nollywood industry, now captured under “Motion pictures, sound recording and music production,” has made a huge leap to about N9trn in size.
With an estimated 1m people directly or indirectly working in the industry, the making, distributing and screening of moving pictures has become the country’s second-biggest source of employment after agriculture.
Nollywood generates at least $590 million annually. This is still a small number, given the scale of Nigeria’s economy and its population.
It is an industry that if given the enabling environment can compete with oil as to which becomes the country’s number one revenue earner. If and when Nollywood becomes a substantial earner of foreign exchange to boost the external reserves and strengthen the naira, then exporting Nollywood is a competitive alternative to oil and gas.
Over the last two decades the Nigerian Film industry has evolved into a veritable platform for the exposition and promotion of Nigeria’s cultures, traditions, norms and values.
For our domestic audience, our movies should complement the efforts of the national Orientation Agency and/or the Ministry of Information in mobilizing the Nigerian citizenry towards a more exalted patriotism and public enlightenment to instil the much chanted, national integration to complement government NYSC programme.
The Corporation will use theatre to correct the unacceptable drift of our Films towards cultural dislocation of our society. Nollywood is a link between our past and present, our old and young, our ancient and modern times, but more importantly as a bridge between us and other climes.
As participants and stakeholders in the sector we have a responsibility to key into the lofty ideals and agenda of our President. Gone are the days when our film industry was populated and operated by other nationals. Today it is gratifying that Nigerians with creative abilities have embraced the film industry and they have even taken the industry to the world stage.
No doubt, the Nigerian film industry is a truly African success story but we have to set new milestones and Key Performance Indicators for its commercial survivability, technical standard and return on investment. It is to this end that we call for a reinvigorated Nollywood!
A major stock on our agenda is to facilitate funding for project realisations in the industry. We will review and align the CBN $200million entertainment industry intervention fund and the #300million released for the Project Act Nollywood.
We shall periodically conduct investor’s engagements platforms where producers meet institutional and private investors, local and foreign to prospect and close deals leading to contract executions.
We are conscious of the going need to be technically competitive in our productions as an industry. Though we intend to be prolific in our production output, however, as an industry player, we are committed to upgrading the collective technical capacity of the industry. To realise this, we shall as government promote the conducive environment that will encourage the thriving of motion pictures equipment leasing groups. They would warehouse contemporary production equipment chains made available to be hired by production houses at very competitive rate.
Concomitant with up to date technical capacity is production capacity building of professionals in different segments in the production value chain. The Nigerian Film Institute and media arts studies shall continue to receive greater attention and investment as an accredited polytechnic institute with enhanced capacity for providing short courses platforms to industry professionals.
As earlier noted, Nigerian movies and film industry can be a veritable foreign exchange earner, therefore, there’s a need to drive the realisation of the industry’s export capabilities by prospecting and opening new market opportunities. We shall in collaboration with industry functionaries, register Nigerian produced movies/film for exhibition at all rated international film festivals.
In addition, we shall collaborate with the organisers of the Nollywood Week to host the event across Europe and other target countries across continent. This is to avail further exposure to our products globally.
In Nigeria, there’s a waiting opportunity to exploit brand Nollywood both for production purposes and the creation of a geographical Nollywood through the realisation of a physical Nollywood, a film village availing production houses of facilities and space for to provision an entertainment city taking cognizance of our rich cultural diversity across the geopolitical zones of the country .
A major challenge to limited returns on investment in our industry is the activities of pirates. This has to be contained to enable collective prosperity, to this end, we shall engage and collaborate with the Nigeria Copyright Council to ostracise this troubling demon that has continued to short circuit our wellbeing through legislation and technology.
To achieve all your dreams for NFC you need to work with other government agencies, what kind collaborations are you looking at?
We cannot achieve these outlines above in isolation as a government agency. We shall welcome ideas from the private sector practitioners, film makers and creative giants in our literally and cultural sectors. We shall work with both state and local governments, universities and corporate investors to achieve above outlined mandates of Nigeria Film Corporation during this era of change. We shall expand and extend our frontiers of operation so that we can impact our nation and world and make the black race proud. In a world that is fiercely competitive and technology drive it will be my humble appeal to all staff to be and management to upgrade and step up in capacity building which will be very central and crucial to our envisaged success. It’s often said that every organisation is as good as the quality of its manpower. Competence, relevant and skills and productivity shall be our watch word. We can only achieve our noble goals and the dreams of the Federal Government economic diversification agenda when improved manpower dominates the system..