A group, the Youths For Change NG, has dared the Coalition of Nigeria Entertainers, CNE, on its plan to hold a nationwide protest against the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.
The entertainers had expressed outrage over a statement by the minister suggesting that government would ban Nigerian artistes from producing music videos and films outside the country.
Mr. Mohammed said the government had taken steps to get the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission, NBC, to put an end to the trend of producing Nigerian music, movies and programmes abroad.
The statement drew criticism from some Nigerians who asked the government to first address the issue of public officials going for medical treatment abroad, before thinking of sanitising the movie industry.
The minister, however, clarified his statement, saying government has no bad motive in trying to discourage production of Nigerian films abroad.
“It is not directed at any particular incident, every country should respect the local industry of other countries. For example, in Ghana they introduced a law today that demands visiting actors to pay a thousand dollars to the government coffers while visiting directors and producers pay 5,000 dollars. We must create an enabling environment and also generate revenue from our creative industry,” Mr. Mohammed explained.
“The argument is simple, when you go to shoot a film offshore, you use the work force of that country to develop the capacity of that country and you improve the economy of that country and that is what we are trying to do here,” he said.
Music artistes like Ruggedman and P-Square had criticised the minister over the comment.
The CNE, on its part, issued a seven-day ultimatum to Mr. Mohammed to withdraw the statement and called on the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, to sack the minister immediately.
A statement released on Saturday by Seun Bobade, the National Leader of the youth group, lambasted the CNE on its protest plan, saying it will incur the wrath of Nigerian youth if it embarked on the protest.
Mr. Bobade chided the group over its threat, saying the minister’s only offence is that “he is doing everything possible to ensure the creation of jobs for the Nigerian youth, using the Creative Industry.”
“Indeed, we have declared the nebulous CNE as anti-Nigerian youths, and we dare them to embark on their protest and see if they will not incur the wrath of the youths.
“We have followed the controversy over the purported ban, and the statement by the minister that he was referring to the production of Nigerian content programme meant for Nigerians outside the country.
“We believe this statement should be applauded rather than derided,” the statement said.
The group said it wished the minister had indeed banned the production of music videos outside the country, because it will support any action that will create even one job for the teeming army of jobless Nigerian youth.
“We appeal to the minister not to succumb to those who are apparently being sponsored by some powerful forces to ensure that Nigerian jobs are perpetually being exported abroad under the guise of shooting music videos and producing reality shows, including ”Big Brother Naija” and ”The Voice”,” it said.
“Can anyone imagine a Big Brother show meant for the South African or Kenyan audience being domiciled in Nigeria? Has anyone seen ”Big Brother Africa” being produced outside Africa? Does anyone care about the number of jobs that would have been created in Nigeria while the production of ”Big Brother Naija” lasted?
“Should such jobs and other fall-outs, including the massive purchase of food for the house mates, have been lost to another country, when the show was meant for the Nigerians audience?
“If the argument is that the power situation in Nigeria is poor, didn’t Nigerians watch the show on their television sets with power, either publicly or privately generated? What of the issue of national pride involved in this?”
Mr. Bobade said his group was among those who expressed outrage when the news broke that ”Big Brother Naija” was being domiciled in South Africa, and that it applauded when the minister issued a statement asking the NBC to investigate the issue.
“Now that the minister has said the Nigeria Broadcasting Code will be amended to ensure this does not happen again, he deserves commendation, not condemnation,” he affirmed.
“The CNE, if indeed it exists, should immediately withdraw its irresponsible statement and apologize to all Nigerians, especially the youths, for daring to insult them. Same applies to those who have toed the same line as the CNE, including one Ruggedman and P Square.
“Irrespective of what they think of themselves, they should not take Nigerian youths for granted.”