Despite opposition, COVID-19 Creative Industry Committee forges ahead

The group established by the Minister of Information and Culture to assess the impact of the pandemic is shunning distractions and focussing on its onerous task.

THE opposition from Nollywood guilds and bodies including the CORA/ARTERIAL Network, notwithstanding, the COVID-19 Creative Industry Committee has remained focussed on its mandate, asking for inputs from all players.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed had established the Committee last week in Abuja to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the creative industry.

Its mandate is to assess the expected impact of the pandemic on the creative industry in general and advise Government on how to mitigate job and revenue losses. It is also to suggest the taxation and financing model most suitable for the creative sector in this COVID-19 season to encourage growth and additional measures to support the industry.

Members include Ali Baba (Chair), Bolanle Austen Peters, Charles Novia, Segun Arinze, Ali Jita, Baba Agba, Kene Okwuosa and Efe Omoregbe. The others are Prince Daniel Aboki, ChiomaUde, Olumade Adesemowo, Darey Art Alade, Hajia Sa’a Ibrahim, Anita Eboigbe, Oliver Enwonwu and the recently added Baba Dzukoggi representing writers. The Committee has four weeks to complete its assignment.

However, about 20 Nollywood guilds and associations had protested that their heads were not consulted before the Government constituted the Committee.

They had in a widely circulated statement said: “Nollywood is one of the priority sectors identified by the Government for its Economic Recovery and Growth Plans with a projected US$1Billion export revenue in 2020. This is the more reason why the Government must involve the leadership of the industry on critical issues affecting the industry rather than only hand-picking a few practitioners, no matter how prominent they may be.

“We have always believed that where there is a will, there is always a way. In that vein, we, therefore, urge the Ministry to incorporate guild heads henceforth whenever it proposes rigorous engagements with the creative industry both now and in the future. If the Government is serious about this noble initiative; we then respectfully call on the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed to reconstitute the Committee to reflect the actual representatives of the industry.”

The CORA/ARTERIAL NETWORK Nigeria, a significant player in the creative industry also this week faulted the composition of the Committee. It noted that: “While we want to applaud the initiative shown by the Federal Government of Nigeria via the office of the Honorable Minister of Information and Culture, we are concerned that rather than deploy a quick action and remedial mode of managing the crisis, the

Advisory Committee set up by the Honorable Minister that is not currently peopled by the Lead Representatives in the creative sector, would constitute unnecessary delays in meeting the objectives of the desired interventions.”

Both groups had, therefore, sought the inclusion of more sector representatives in a newly reconstituted body.

But playing the role of peacemaker, the Executive Director, National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), Adedayo Thomas, on Monday explained that the creative industry is bigger than Nollywood.

He said, “I understand your concerns on the need to consult guild heads, but we must not also fail to realise that the creative industry transcends the film and music sectoral arms, and there is need to widen the net needed to accommodate its tentacles. However, without an iota of doubt, I believe the Honourable Minister has received our concerns and would act in good faith in the future.

Thomas requested that all players support the Committee and not allow the opportunity to slip away.

“May I, therefore, request that we support the Committee to see to its success for our collective good. Perhaps, in the spirit of oneness that we have shared as an industry, the guild and association heads can form a sub-committee to make representation to the main Committee or directly to the Honourable Minister on the objectives of the Committee. This will go a long way in viewing issues from a wider prism to enrich resolutions at the end of the day. We cannot afford to let our past efforts slip away by our grievances,” he said.

But despite the opposition to its composition, members of the Committee are going full steam. They are asking for inputs into the final presentation to the Minister.

Only on Thursday, Baba Dkukoggi representing writers sent a form for his colleagues to fill. Committee’s chair, Ali Baba has also refused to be distracted, constantly using social media to reach out to colleagues to have their say.

Like all other sectors of the Nigerian economy, the creative industry has been adversely affected by COVID-19, with players telling tales of woes.

The National President of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) Saleh Rabo, recently lamented the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on the sector and appealed to the Federal Government to include domestic tourism and hospitality businesses and operators in the planned N500 billion Covid-19 intervention fund and other proposed palliative measures.

He said, “the inclusion of Nigeria’s Tourism and Hospitality Industry in the Federal Government’s Covid-19 economic stimulus package and palliative measures, is expedient and justified. Considering the enormous contributions of travel and hospitality sectors to the nation’s overall economic growth and massive employment of labour.”

Those in the publishing sector had made the same request in a joint statement to mark the World Book and Copyright Day on April 23. “The current pandemic has dealt a huge blow on the industry, and we need Government’s support to get over the negative impact on our activities as we gasp for oxygen to survive. On this note, we urge the Government to consider the book industry in its economic response strategies,” they pleaded.

 

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