By Nehru Odeh
Chuks Akamadu, legal practitioner and Managing Director, Afrocultour has decried the manner in which government has relegated the creative and entertainment industry to the background. According to him, the industry, endowed with rich potential, has a lot to contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, and rescue the economy from over dependence on oil and put it on the path to diversification and recovery.
Akamadu stated this at the maiden edition of the Nigerian Entertainment and Economic Roundtable, which held at Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos on Thursday 17 December 2020. The theme of the roundtable, was “Positioning the creative and entertainment industry to lead the private sector in supporting Federal and State Governments’ efforts to achieving urgent diversification.”
He called for synergy between practitioners of the creative and entertainment industry and the various stakeholders on the one hand and the federal and state government on the other
“The first entertainment and economic roundtable was conceived to be a robust platform for mutually profitable engagements between creative and entertainment industry practitioners and their diverse stakeholders on the one hand and the Federal and state governments on the other hand on issues of policy , regulatory framework, legal regime, growth and general industry environment especially in the face of worsening vulnerability of crude oil prices and the alternative of checking up internally generated revenue. IGR of the three tiers of government.
“The whole idea is to cultivate a culture of regular dialogue among stakeholders and galvanize the requisite critical mass needed to transform into a money spinning machine with potentials to set the entire culture tourism landscape on a path to economic prosperity.
“The central objective of the roundtable is to urgently design an inclusive industry framework for stimulating and reenergising the economy to stabilize and flourish sustainably amis Covid-19. Post covid-19 and in the face of unprecedented dwindling oil fortunes,” Akamadu said.
Akamadu, however, called for regular cross fertilization of ideas between practitioners in the entertainment industry and policy makers “with a view to approaching the industry’s numerous challenges from a position of shared knowledge and with clinical precision.
He also recommended a change of perception on the part of government and the private sector. The creative and entertainment industry, according to Akamadu is erroneously seen as a mere fact domiciled in the exclusive list of the country’ constitution, which has made the 36 federating units and the 77 local government councils not to “constructively engage the federal government for mutually supportive , mutually reinforcing and indeed mutually beneficial collaborations along the entertainment super highway essentially.”
Akamadu also decried the way in which majority perceive the entertainment industry as something meant for leisure rather than as a tool for economic growth, job creation and social inclusion.
“The private sector on its part has yet to fully tap into the abundant potentials of the industry largely because a majority stills enjoys seeing the entertainment and creative sector from the lens of leisure as opposed to recognizing it rightly as a veritable tool for economic growth, job creation and social inclusion,” Akamadu maintained.
Akamadu also blame the practitioners of the entertainment industry for focusing too much attention on government when in actual fact they are supposed to call the shots.
“The practitioners themselves who no doubt has done incredibly well seems to be focusing too much on government and sitting on their fortunes when the ace cards are actually in their hands. And who says that these illustrious practitioners cannot do much better than they are doing at present, especially in an era when the market value of Netflix has climbed to 196 billion US dollars, overtaking that of Exxon Mobil which currently stands at 166 billion US dollars.
Akamadu however said the creative and entertainment industry has a huge role to play in “rescuing the country from the turbulent waters of budget financing and relocating to the safe shores of budget financing.”
“According to experts, budget financing is when you borrow externally to meet up with your budgetary obligations whilst budget funding is when you can source from within the requisite money that you need to meet you budgetary allocation.
“So that is why entertainment and creative industry through this dialogue would desire to see a paradigm shift from our culture of budget financing to that of budget funding because we believe that the industry has a whole lot that we are yet to tap,” Akamadu averred.
The roundtable lived up to its expectations as it was attended by academics and A-list actors and artistes such as Fred Amata, Ejike Ashiegbu, Tony Akposheri, Andy Shurman as well as representatives of Lagos, Zamfara, Sokoto and Jigawa state governments. And they all contributed very robustly to the discourse. The Ghanaian Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi and the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Abhay Thakur gave their remarks via Zoom.
Issues that were raised revolved around the need for the entertainment industry to have structures, which many in the entertainment industry said it already has, as well as the proliferations of guilds and factions within the industry which made it difficult for them to access grants and loans. The artistes also decried their inability to access loans and grants provident by government because of stringent conditions. According to them their identity, honour and integrity should serve as enough collateral, as none of them would like their name to be dented because of their inability to pay back loans accessed. They also spoke about the need to make the Nigerian environment conducive for creative and entertainers, as, according to them, “any country without night life is dead.”
Akamadu, on his part thanked the Governors of Lagos, Zamfara, Sokoto and Jigawa states for their various contributions to making sure that the roundtable was a huge success. He also expressed his appreciation to the Federal ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning as well as the Ministry of Information and Culture for supporting the roundtable.
“We are deeply grateful to the Federal ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, particularly for the personal commitment of the Honorable Minister of state, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba who have in their wisdom found this initiative worthy and timely and have therefore wade in fully as partners and done all that is within their mandate to co midwife the roundtable with Afrocoutur
“I said so because I think it is a good thing things are looking up for the industry If we have the Federal Ministry of Finance , Budget and National Planning coming to play effective complementary role as regards the affairs of industry because the Federal Ministry of Information, Culture, Tourism and National Orientation are doing their bit.
“But having the Federal Ministry of Finance , Budget and National Planning come in as partners to see how we can all come together and make sure that the potentials of the industry are optimized I think this is a good thing for the industry and it is something that we should all join hands to build on,” Akamadu said.