One of the major reasons why the Buhari administration, through the Technology and Creativity Advisory Group, has engaged key players in the entertainment industry is the recognition of the fact that the industry is big and crucial to our economy, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Professor Osinbajo stated this while responding to questions and comments during an interactive session with some celebrities and stakeholders in the entertainment industry in Lagos on Friday evening.
According to him, “the entertainment industry is big, entertainment is crucial to our economy and there is no question at all that if we ignore entertainment, we ignore it at our own risk.”
He said: “Everywhere you turn, someone is listening to Nigerian music, and is watching a Nollywood video. No matter how we slice it, we cannot ignore the fact that this is going to be extremely big in the coming years. So, we must set the right environment that will make it possible.”
Speaking about specific Federal Government actions and activities as they affect the growth of the industry, Prof. Osinbajo said the establishment of the Technology and Creativity Advisory Group of the Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council Industrial Competitiveness Council, to help in developing policies around entertainment and technology was one way government demonstrated uncommon commitment to support the growth of the industry.
According to the Vice President “we decided that we are going to establish the Technology and Creativity Advisory group because we already have a council of businessmen – the Dangotes, the Flour Mill and all the big businessmen but there was no representation of entertainment or technology in that council.
“We have held meetings many times at the villa where we looked at specific policies that will determine the direction of the industry in the next few years.
“One of those issues that the council was looking at is piracy. In fact we commissioned a law firm to look at the whole question around piracy and around association and collecting agencies.”
The Vice President however counselled stakeholders in the industry to be proactive in dealing with issues that affect their development, noting that “already there is a lot going on and I think that your industry has to respond to what is happening, information has to go round the industry”.
Responding to comments on Nigeria not having relevant agreements with other countries to grow the entertainment industry, Prof. Osinbajo said there were sufficient treaties with the United States of America and other important countries that stakeholders could leverage to improve the sector.
He said: “I listened to Omotola when she talked about Nigeria not having enough treaties to guide growth of the industry. We already have treaties, all of the agreements that are required to grow our industry.
“For example, Mo Abudu runs a major production contract with Sony entertainment and that is on the basis that we already have an entertainment treaty with the US. In fact we have entertainment treaties with many of the major countries. Every treaty on Science, Technology, Culture, and Entertainment is under what we call scientific and cultural treaties and there is no problem at all with regards to that.
“But it is not always a matter of saying our environment is not ready, no environment is ever ready, whatever it is that we have at the moment, we can make maximum use of it and get things done. One of the reasons I have been having these meetings and interactions is because we are constantly trying to change what we see.”
Prof. Osinbajo said he had maintained a regular interaction with players in the entertainment sector at different times one of which culminated in the creation of the Technology and Creativity Advisory Group.
According to him, “When I heard Lancelot Imasuen saying that we are meeting with you for the first time…I was surprised because I don’t think there is any other group of people I have met with more frequently than the people from the entertainment industry. And this is a long engagement, not once, not twice, not thrice.
“For those who may recall, first I met with a large group of entertainers, many of who are here, looking at what we could do about developing policy around entertainment. And then we decided that we are going to establish the Technology and Creativity Advisory Group.
“So, after the meeting with the entertainment industry, we decided that we are going to have within the Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council, a technology and creativity advisory group. Several of the members of the advisory group are industry players, some are involved in film production and music.”
Prof. Osinbajo however advised entertainers to develop a keen interest in the affairs of the country saying, “one of the important reasons why we must all participate in politics one way or the other is because this is where you can really make the change, make the difference.”
The Governors of Lagos State, Akinwumi Ambode, Bauchi State, Mohammed Abubakar, Senator Godswill Akpabio and several other government officials attended the meeting.