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Wale Adenuga: Nollywood in disarray

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VETERAN film maker and entrepreneur, Wale Adenuga,MFR, has always been outspoken especially when it comes to addressing critical issues undermining the growth of the Nigerian movie industry.

Adenuga was at it again recently, as he made a quick assessment of the industry, positing that passing the moribund Motion Picture Practitioners Council of Nigeria, MOPICON, bill into law remains the only way to sanitize the industry in this dispensation.

He’s also canvassed for the establishment of an umbrella body that will promote the interest of all film makers in the country.

The producer of popular TV series, “Papa Ajasco”, “Superstory” and CEO of Wale Adenuga Productions, made this known while in a chat with our reporter at the opening of the PEFTI film institute in Ibadan.

He lamented the current state of the industry, noting that if nothing is being done to arrest the trend, it will be difficult to avert a looming disaster.

According to him, “Our industry is the only one in Nigeria where we don’t have a national body. We can’t talk about a national association of film makers, the way that doctors talk about the Nigerian Medical Association,NMA, and journalists talk about the Nigerian Union of Journalists,NUJ. It’s true that we have all manner of guilds but they are all based on sentiments. I am persuaded to believe that our inability to come together under an umbrella is one of the reasons we have some of the problems that undermine the growth of the Nigerian film sector.”

Speaking further, Adenuga said people who are enjoying from the muddy waters of Nollywood will not want things to be reformed.

“I am not happy with the present structure of Nollywood. It’s as if we don’t have a structure. For instance, you cannot practice journalism in Nigeria without becoming a member of NUJ. But in the case of Nollywood, it’s all-comers affair. In fact, Nollywood is stand on triplot at the moment. The northerners are doing their own called Kannywood, the Yorubas are doing their own under the auspices of Association Of Nigeria Theatre Art Practitioners, ANTP, while the Igbo practitioners are doing their own in the name of Nollywood. Worse still, most of the popular film producers or directors don’t belong to any association. So, there is no structure and the only thing that would have structured the industry is this proposed MOPICON.”

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Continuing, he said “People who are enjoying from the muddy waters of Nollywood are not helping matters. They are campaigning against the proposed MOPICON bill. They are forming guilds now and using the platform to amass wealth for themselves. With MOPICON in place , such a thing will stop. That’s why they have been kicking against the bill. Right now, Nollywood is in disarray. The resultant effect of that is the economy of Nollywood which is at its lowest ebb.”

‘We are suffering and smiling. People don’t know that all is not well with the industry. The only way you will know that all is not well, is the way and manner our ailing actors are going cap in hand begging for financial aids to take care of their health challenges. I can name actors that died without proper care. That’s the realities of Nollywood. All these actresses who are flaunting their posh cars and mansions on social media are not reflecting the realities of Nollywood.”

‘They are making their money elsewhere. An actress that is earning less than N1 million per year is opening a palace of N100 million. Outsiders will be forced to believe that all is well with the industry, while it’s not. I am crying for help on behalf of the industry. If at my age, most of my colleagues are dying of hunger, and cannot foot their medical bills, it tells you that all is not well with the industry. But if we have a structure in place, the industry will be sanitized.’

‘There will national guilds with rules and regulations guiding the industry. If the MOPICON bill is passed into law, some of the guilds will be so strong that nobody can emerge from nowhere to claim that she or he is a director or a producer. We need the industry to be sanitized and it can only be achieved through passing the proposed MOPICON bill into law.”

“If Nollywood is well structured, there would be pension and health insurance schemes to the advantage of practitioners but that is not the case at the moment. What we have are self creations and growth of cabals.’

On government support, the creator of famous Papa Ajasco brand said the successive governments in the country have done well to support the growth of the industry. He, however, regretted that lack of organization has undermined the efforts of the government in re-positioning the industry.

“The present administration has been doing a lot supporting the industry It has made loans available to the practitioners through the Bank of Industry,BoI, at less than 9 per cent interest. The government has also started what they call, the Creative Industry Financing Initiative,CIFI, under the Central Bank of Nigeria,’Adenuga, who has over four decades experience in the industry highlighted.

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