Nigeria: Film and Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria hits out at Censorship Board’s new framework

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The Nigerian National Film and Video Censors Board’s distribution framework has drawn considerable flak from the industry since it was put in place a year ago. But last week The Vanguard newspaper interviewed the Film and Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria’s spokesperson Emma Isikaku who acknowledged that it had been « a huge success » despite having challenge dit in the Courts.

Q : What’s your position on the framework ?

« Contrary to speculation, the Film and Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (FVPMAN)assert that the National Film and Video Censors Board's new policy on distribution is becoming a laudable success. We are about to enter the full implementation stage of the policy this June., » said Isikaku.

« When the NFVCB unveiled the framework, we welcomed it and tried to position ourselves to align with it. Suddenly, it seemed as if the Nollywood politicians hijacked the process and began to use it for a different interest other than the interest of the board. These politicians thought the government was going to avail money for sharing which made them overzealous. The politics played by these self-acclaimed stake-holders became too dangerous and threatening. In order to ensure that they do not unduly influence the NFVCB to derail from the objects of the framework and in self-defence, we had to challenge it in a law court. The moment we realised that we have no reason to be in conflict with the NFVCB, we reconciled with the board ».

« We understood that the current leadership of the board is too knowledgeable on the politics of the industry and cannot be misdirected by anyone or group of persons. It was not necessary to have opposed the board. The misrepresentatives, the politicians and the self-acclaimed stake-holders caused the whole conflict. The court action was only a guard against it ».

« Gabosky (Movie producer, Chief Gab Okoye popularly called Gabosky, President of the Association of Movie Distributors) is my very good friend and I respect him. But his statements about the framework remain characterised by a high degree of incoherence. I try to comprehend what he is actually trying to express but found nothing meaningful, which gives rise to numerous questions. How come he suddenly realised that those granted licences were actors? What has he been able to do with the licence since almost two years it was granted to him? Why did he apply for the licence if his company is yet to gain the mega status? If he is of mega status, what is he waiting for to act as such. I believe his recent criticisms on the board and its leadership are quite personal. His own conception of the new framework is at variance with that of the statutory agency ».

« So, let them please play down their personal interest and allow the board to concentrate on its statutory obligations in the interest of the industry. If he leaves tomorrow, another person will take his place. Gabosky cannot direct the board. I cannot direct the board. Therefore, things must not go the way we want it except, both interests acquire a meeting point. The earlier he realises this, the better. If in his views, the framework failed him or failed to meet his aspirations, it is for obvious reasons. A square peg cannot fit into a round hole. He was originally not into distribution and it would likely not be so easy to fit into the new distribution policy. We are into it and it is not failing us. The caps are well fitted on our heads. The new framework gleams a lot of hope for the ailing industry. We are convinced that the current leadership of the board will actualise it ».

Q : Who are these politicians?

« Let me not mention names or malign anyone. But just know that while we are busy making films and building Nollywood, there are others who contribute nothing but enjoy the pageantry that goes with film making. Today, people proliferate associations to acquire political space and to occupy high tables at occasion and events. Some others just speak to be relevant ».

« Others jump from one government parastatal to the other, seeking personal grants or political influence on governmental agencies. In the case of Nigerian filmmakers, a group serves as "Workers and soldiers" while a particular group serves as the "drone". They remain the real impediments to the development of the film industry. They are the intangible problems of Nollywood ».

Q : Why do people criticise the new framework?

« Everyone is free to exercise his or her inalienable right to speech. If you are not into a system, you are obviously out of the system. Distribution of movies is different from importation and sale of domestic wares. The new framework is all about distribution of movies ».

« Those who have been into distribution understand and appreciate the new framework. The business of distribution is skilful and requires a high degree of prudence and honesty. What we lacked was regulation which the NFVCB is doing right now. And soon, the industry will become vibrant like never before ».

« Summarily, the critics are not into the business of distribution. They are people who tried to assume the position of distributors but failed more than once. If they try and try again, they will absolutely fail and fail again unless they take into full consideration, the intricacies of the business. These people misdirected similar agencies and ministers in the past, making them achieve nothing. This trend must be reversed ».