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CREATIVE NIGERIA SUMMIT:ANOTHER HOT AIR, OR A STRATEGIC ROAD MAP

           Julius Akpoguma, email - julius.esse@gmail.com, Twitter @J5fabulous -

The 17th and 18th of July, 2017 witnessed the gathering of stakeholders in the Film, Music and Television industry at the Eko Hotel Convention Centre, Lagos, to discuss relevant issues as they relate to the current state of the information/entertainment industry and discuss the strategic way forward, and, if need be, financial intervention where deemed necessary - which is thematic focus of the summit: Creative Industry Finance Conference.

This sort of assembly wouldn't happen without bringing up other matters relevant to, and bedeviling the creative industry, matters like eradicating piracy and creating an enabling environment. The latter couldn't have come at a better time especially when when there are widespread rumours of the Minister of Information banning the production of videos and film outside the shores of Nigeria, by Nigerians, for Nigerian consumption.

He refuted this claim, instead he clearly emphasised the importance of growing the Nigerian Creative Industry that contributes an amazing 1.4% to the source of national revenue and also leveraging on the immense potential not fully harnessed in the music, film and television industry in Nigeria. He juxtaposed this statistical fact with the almighty oil and gas sector that contributes 11% to national coffers. This was to the utter surprise and amazement of many.

Without further digression.

The event kicked off in the usual bureaucratic delay associated with public programmes - the delayed arrival of several VIPs explained the late start to the much anticipated summit - thus, triggering the skepticism and frustration of many who were enthusiastic to hear about, and partake in a remedial process for the information and entertainment sectors in the Nigerian socio-cultural sphere. 
To the amazement of many, myself included, there was an unexplainable turn of proceedings at the event which rekindled interests and lowered many a raised eyebrows of participants. The sudden increase in the burst of 'energy' and interest was traceable to the anecdote contained in the opening remarks of the Honourable Minister of Finance Mrs Kemi Adeosun who stood in for the Acting President who in her words was 'detained elsewhere' in other events [attending to matters of equally national importance]. If anything, her presence buttressed the seemingly growing commitment of the Federal government to support the music, film and television industry through the office of the Minister of Information. However there was a moment of 'awwww' when Mrs Adeosun announced that this government doesn't have money to give to anyone but she encouraged stakeholders to resort to 'Creative Financing'. I'm sure you'll do little or no damage to ascribe your own relative interpretations to that phrase.

Without further ado, the Acting President's proxy opening remarks ensured that the summit swung into full activity, participants and guests witnessed paradigm-shifting insights from experts from various aspects of the creative industry globally. Some things never before heard or known were brought to the fore. Experts from Hollywood, Bollywood and from the financial sector, legal experts, public relation experts as well as experts from Intellectual Property Protection gave the Summit it's distinctive hue.
For the two days that the summit lasted, the Honourable Minister of Information - Alhaji Lai Mohammed - was fully present, a most commendable gesture undeniably attested to by most of those present, if not all. Indeed, one of the experts from India said 'this has hardly happened in my country (India), they (referring to government officials in India) just commission it open and they leave shortly afterwards.' 
Other dignitaries in attendance include government officials from Nigeria as expected, Niger Republic, Togo. Experts and award winners who have distinguished themselves came from Hollywood, Bollywood, financial sector gurus, indigenous owners of cable stations, foreign media houses, independent movie producers etc were in attendance. In a nutshell, there were enough recipes to make for a scintillating dish, figuratively speaking.
I would not know, yet I'm not sure, if any relevant aspect of the creative industry was left out. But there weren't sufficient references to radio being the most reliable host for music - afterall the theme of the summit says Financing the TV, Film and Music Industry. Well, we must look at the positives rather than gnaw at forgivable oversight, if any.

POSITIVES FROM THE SUMMIT.

Below are a few of my thoughts, having attended the summit as an 'uninvited vip' and an enthusiastic participant willing to bring the little skills I have to contribute to the growth of the industry.

1. I must begin with the political economy in which the creative industry breeds. This mustn't go without saying that most of Nigeria's politicians, today, are witnesses to the oil boom of the 70s, it seems the euphoria of oil related money is gradually wearing off from the psyche of some of them, this disillusioning might be attributable to the unstable and plummeting oil prices again in recent times and there seem to be some sort of awakening, genuine awareness and a strong recognition of the huge potentials available in the Creative Industry, capable of bringing more reliable input to the diversification of the economy and the government is looking to strategically harness this 'new found' (in actuality, long existing) rough gold.

2. We have realised that we need to begin thinking in alignment with the larger developed (and developing) world by recognising that creativity can generate wealth as much as any other aspect of our socio-economic sphere. Hence, embarking on a journey to revitalise or restructure existing institutions and if need be creating formidable institutions to regulate and support this 'ever-burgeoning' field.
While many aspects of our social and political lives are dependent on technology from the more developed world, we have somehow found a way of successfully defining what satisfies us and what we want in our music, film and on our television platforms (although there are still lots of lose ends that need improvement). The proliferation of Nigerian-owned TV stations, YouTube channels, cable TV contents, radio stations, blogs etc all of who continually provide services for the Nigerian audience and for exportation attests to this somewhat unexplainable progress in our TV, film and definitely our music spheres.
If you want to know we've made some progress today in our creative industries, all you simply have to do is do a decade's comparison not necessarily with any measure of expertise but objectivity. Doing so with expertise simply is to accurately analyse what exactly necessitated the changes witnessed and which next steps to take.

3. The Creative Nigeria Summit is a timeous wake up call to collectively cash-in on our music and movies' hegemony in Africa as a backup plan for our oil-based economy following the death knell that had been rung on the oil market (though only on surface analysis) by a proposed shift from oil dependent means of industrialisation and of powering cars recently adopted in most of EU powerful states. 
In this regards, African countries in OPEC must begin to find and strengthen alternative sources of income especially oil dependent economies. The creative industry is one of such markets to strengthen for this crusade.

CONCLUSION

It is a well established fact that Hollywood and Bollywood are unarguably the biggest film industries in the world (which invariably concerns TV and music associated to movies' soundtrack and vice versa - videos are shot for songs as short films), Nigeria trails behind these two power-houses only and not anymore. This makes our creative industry a colossus in its own right. And like the US and India's industries, a substantially meaningful and reliable revenue can be generated therefrom.

But, words and words alone can NEVER translate to realistic development when it is not back up with commensurate action. Chief Tony Okoroji, Director of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) rightly said at the event - if we talk and talk and don't put the proper framework in place for implementation, backed by the right attitude, we could gather again next year (I'm of the belief that it's now a yearly event), repeating all that has already been said. 

Who does the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result? Only one category of persons is known to answer to this famous quote of Albert Einstein.

Going forwards - Insulation from political interference and drawbacks(as much as possible), adequate records, measurable parameters, transparent and thought-theough implementation framework, genuine-strategic intervention, strict execution and adherence to laid out templates etc; doing these in no particular order should definitely yield desired result. But would we, collectively do these? Better yet would you in your own capacity?
While it is reinvigorating to think that we have we found a roadmap to take us to the proverbial El Dorado, skepticism lurks somewhere until it is dispelled, some prefer to think we've blown hot air again as we have done with many other things in the past? One thing is sure, the last has not been heard with this beautiful, ingenious idea of the Ministry of Information and its partners.

Creative Nigeria Summit 2017, it came, it happened... let us see where it leads us.

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