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Governors of the South East geo-political zone have been challenged to henceforth, take serious interest in the thriving film industry in their domain in order to harness the huge gross domestic product (GDP) and increase their internally generated revenue (IGR). The call was made in Lagos by Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, founder of the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), in an exclusive interview with BDSUNDAY.
Anyiam-Osigwe, who made the call on the back of her discovery during a recent two-day training on film making in Enugu, said that the state governors were just sitting on huge wealth without tapping into it for the greater good of their people, noting that the apparent lack of interest in the film making business and lack of assistance to youths who wish to pursue such career were unhealthy for socio-economic wellbeing of the zone.
“I discovered that there is void of information in the South East.There’s so much activity going on in the film industry there; but they don’t really know. This is me speaking to businesses and governments in South East and South-South; I don’t think they get it. To be honest with you, I don’t think the governor of Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia, Imo (well, Imo is just coming in) – the other two-term governors, I don’t think they get the huge GDP that is going on there because it is undocumented,” she said.
According to her, “There’s a lot of money there, but these people seem unaware. While I was in Enugu and Asaba, almost 200 productions were going on almost at the same time on an average budget of N2.5million to N15million each production.
“You have students in Nsukka doing their own; they get together, they may raise N1million, do their production and put on YouTube or they sell to African Magic, and this is thriving. Now, there’s a lot of passion in that industry. I met a young guy who did animation, I can’t believe what he is doing there. People doing emotion graphics, and I am like where is the support? There isn’t anybody to help.”
The film maker and entertainment executive also expressed disappointment that “The people in charge of culture and tourism are not embracing them. These are the issues. I see and am wondering, you want to increase the GDP? You already have a lot of GDP going on that you can harness, you have stars coming out of the industry and you have a lot of talents that need encouragement; then what are you waiting for? What is the problem?”
“Some older actors are doing their best to assist the younger ones, on their own individual capacities, but what I see is that until we can harness the global picture of film industry in Nigeria; that is from the creative industry – because I met fashion designers, and everybody doing different things, and what I just felt was that there’s a vacuum that nobody is trying to fill. Yes, the CBN has come up with this N200 billion loan; but my question is, did they actually understand how to get this money to these people?” the holder of the Nigerian national honour, Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR), wondered.
Anyiam-Osigwe, who explained that the training activities of AMAA in the last 14 years had positively impacted individual lives and countries in Africa and beyond, said: “This is the kind of background of what people don’t see apart from the main AMAA that we do. People tend to see the brand as, ‘O, this glamorous event that they do once a year’, but we’re still working year in, year out. The same thing we are doing here, we do in Rwanda; we do in The Gambia; Malawi. We do training across Africa; even if it is little workshop of 10 people; five people. If we charge students to do some of the stuff like in Enugu, they can’t afford it.”
Read full interview next SUNDAY.