3 June 2012

Nigeria: As GEJ Marks 1 Year in Office, Entertainers Seek Democracy Dividends

That the entertainment industry suffered neglect in the hands of successive administrations is no longer an issue. What is relevant now is the effort to redeem the support promised to those making the industry what it is today. Anthony Ada Abraham, in this piece, collates the views of some pundits on the response of the Jonathan administration to their plight. That the entertainment industry suffered neglect in the hands of successive administrations is no longer an issue.

Presisent Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ), is a man with many sides and promises. He is someone Nigerians hoped on to bring succour by taking away their pains and sorrow.

During his electioneering campaigns across the nation, those people who made it possible for Nigerians to listen and get convinced that the president is willing and able to provide for the people if elected into office are the country's well known entertainers(celebrities).

But since his election into office and the promise of continued support, industry stakeholders have lamented the bureaucracy and bottleneck they have been faced with in the last one year.

One of these persons is Osaretin Ogbemudia, an Abuja based Movie producer, director and the owner of life media. In an exclusive chat with E-train, Osas stated emphatically that government stringent policies on how to access loans are basically incoherent.

'The entertainment industry has suffered in the hands of government in the area of monetary policy. Why would the government say they have provided $200 million dollars for the development of the industry and there is nothing to show or draw from? NEXIM Bank is holding on to the money as if it is their birthright and the collateral they are requesting for is just not it.

Nobody forced government to promise developing the industry, it was a decision taken by the president due to the massive support he garnered during his electioneering campaigns. And if they are not ready to help the people in the industry...why don't they just keep quiet? The president should create a Ministry for Entertainment to solve all this bottle necks. 'Not a rhetoric statement really...'

One artiste who has been both frank and outspoken in the print and other social media is eLDeeTheDon. The artiste who was a big critic of the New Year day announcement of removal of subsidy from fuel, reminds Nigerians that oppression will never last and insists that 2015 general election will be a big decider.

"What's annoying is not the name change but the frivolous things they consider as priority. No regard to water, light, roads, education, security which are basic amenities.

"Next time, hopefully my people will see beyond tribe, religion, ignorant sentiments. 2015 will decide", elDee said.

Hip hop icon and social crusader for the streets voice, Eedris Abdulkareem who was at the forefront of the subsidy revolution could not be reached to comment on the achievement of the president in the entertainment industry for the last one year It would be recalled that Eedris had been against all those colleague- artistes who participated in the campaigning for the president, calling names before his election.

Is Nigeria really under pressure? These are lines of his block-bursting hit song, in the 90's.

Years after, these words of African Raggae star, Ras Kimono are still hunting the country. In a recent interview, the Rumba Stylee crooner fumed at the present state of Nigeria blaming it on politicians who careless for the industry and the people. When asked what inspired one of his songs, Wicked Politicians, which went harsh on them with the line 'fire to burn dem wicked politicians', Ras Kimono said: "The way Nigerian politicians are going about issues show that they don't have the interest of the masses at heart".

Effort to get the former president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Segun Arinze, who was in the forefront of the Jonathan/Sambo campaign to comment was aborted as he did not return the calls put across to his phone.

But for the area Father as he is popularly known, he took it upon himself during the subsidy protest to follow issues logically, expressing his dissatisfaction on the side government. In an exclusive interaction with E-train, he relates his understanding of what really has been achieved in the industry in particular and Nigeria generally as the president marks one year in office.

"My concern is not really tilted towards Jonathan's scorecard and on whether he has done so well or so badly for the entertainment industry. However, my concern is tilted towards the nature of our democracy. Our definition and understanding of democracy is different from that of the global understanding and practices of democracy.

"We have had a home grown democracy for the past 10 years, which is not different from our practice of the erroneously imbibed 'African-time'. This is obviously an excuse for people's attitude to coming late. The same applies to our customised democracy. We have piled up different reasons why our own democracy has failed to work.

He is not through yet...

"That keeps us asking: Is our own African time different from the global time, or better put; is our Nigerian democracy different from the global democracy? This is the question that bothers me so much even as we celebrate our democracy. What have we really learnt positively in the practice of our democracy?"

Area father responded with an emphatic NOTHING! retrospectively.

"Back to your question, for sometime, not much has really been done to positively encourage the entertainment industry, let alone now that we are in a struggling democracy, and as Fela would describe it- 'Demonstration Of Craze'. It is a demonstration of stealing with impunity. I will just plead that government should be more sensitive with the electorate.

"Many big time Nigerian entertainers in the industry have all been frustrated even unto death. You have heard of the death of Rashidi Yekini, Jegede, Giringori, both of The New Masquerade, Sam Loco- Efe, Christy Essien Igbokwe, Tyna Onwudiwe, Sam Okwaraji and a host of other entertainers whether in sports too, who died silently without due recognition by our government.

If that could happen, then you don't need a score card, because there is nothing to score before we know that so much has not been done to augment the effort of some people whose dream is to see that the industry grow beyond the level that it is at the moment.

Looking further, and advocating less dependence on government by the Nigerian populace for everything to survive, said "even as it stands, we should begin to ask ourselves questions on why we have to even rely on government to survive. Most of the time, we are our own problem.

I remember when I embarked on selfless fight against the Nigerian breweries for the sake of the industry, and I still remember vividly how I was betrayed by my own colleagues who were to fight with me. So, most of the time, I get so confused on the best approach to hoist the profile of the entertainment industry. What we actually want is government sensitivity towards the people.

"However, I believe that very many of us will soon understand that the change we seek starts from us in as much as it lies within our reach and will come only if we become disciplined and brave to change our mindset and revert to established noble ideals and values".

He concluded saying...

"I tell you, the Industry will be pushed to a tight corner if great people in the industry continue to die in penury without recognition".

A food for thought that really has to be taken very seriously.

And though Don Jazzy, the former Mohit producer also let people know that if Unilag can be named MAU, Mo'hit to Mavin Record is nothing...

'If Unilag fit be MAU, Mo'hits to Mavin na small cake na. Greatest MAULITES. all join.'

Though many have spoken, what is expected now from the president is to hearken to the words of these men who have proven over the years to be struggling for the upliftment of democracy. Nigeria...good people, great nation.

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