Woes of the National Film Institute, Jos.

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When news broke of the likely change in the leadership of the Nigerian Film Corporation, staff and students of the National Film Institute, though confronted with mixed feelings, waited with eagerness, optimism, and hope for the announcement of new head honcho. They had counted the gains and losses of the past three managing directors and could only hope that the soon-to-be-announced MD would be the bridge over troubled waters, one who would finally galvanize the administration of the corporation with the proper structuring of the institute, which was unfortunately, taking a downward spiral at that time. Patiently everyone waited; staff, students, everyone!

Alas! The announcement came through. Quite frankly, it was heartbreak, a shock, a disappointment. The name seemed as alien as it seemed out of place. Voices rose, people opposed, film professionals pleaded with the then PDP-led government to rescind the detrimental appointment but typical of them, they wouldn’t bulge. Selfish interests must be protected. So, NFC and NFI were condemned to their fate, to their death. (Refer to the Nigeria. ’70. news of May 14th, 2013, Vanguard of May 15th, 2013, National Mirror of May 17th, 2013, Nigeriafilms.com news of May 13th, 2013, the Nation newspaper of May 18th, 2013, latestnigeriannews.com news of May 15th, 2013)

National Film Institute, Jos

With great helplessness, everyone watched as a Marine Engineer, without any prior exposure or experience in film or any film-related field mounted the saddle of leadership of what is supposed to the nation’s apex film regulatory body. In the words of Ibinabo Fiberesima, President of Actors Guild of Nigeria, “This is the height of insult and a big slap on the face of film makers and the entire stakeholders of the film industry in Nigeria. How can a Marine Engr. be made the MD/CEO of Nigerian Film Corporation? The government might as well make a furniture maker the new health minister or a farmer the Attorney-General or Solicitor-General of the country. DO NOT GIVE US YOUR CANDIDATE TO FULFILL YOUR PROMISES; WE NEED PEOPLE WHO UNDERSTAND OUR TERRAIN. How ridiculous can we get? All true blue practitioners should rise and say no to this. We need professionals who understand the challenges of our growing industry. This is a NO to this appointment.” (sic)

Mr. Chike Bryan, then secretary of the Screenwriters Guild of Nigeria, alarmed at the appointment, penned in his petition to  ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, ‘Without prejudice to Engr. Dadu’s sterling qualifications and experiences as a Marine Engineer, the industry has nothing whatsoever against his person, but we take particular exception to the inglorious disregard of the availability of numerous astute, qualified, experienced and well-positioned film makers, some of whom have put over 20 years of their creative life, into the film Industry.

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As a matter of precedence, the N.F.C has been administered by notable filmmakers from its inception, from Brendan Shehu, Hyginus Ekwuazi and Afolabi Adesanya, as government has always seen the necessity to put qualified creative technocrats at the helm of affairs. More examples abound, with Prof. Dora Akunyili at NAFDAC, Engr. Ernest Ndukwe at the N.C.C, or Dr. Adewunmi at Ministry of Agriculture, or Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui–Okaruo at F.I.R.S.

We, therefore, wonder why at this critical period of rebirth and renewal, government deems it fit to do a policy somersault and endanger the spirit of consultation and cooperation currently pervading between government and the film industry.”

Taking an objective look at the Nollywood Film industry and the giant strides it has made over the years, the least anyone would expect is that an experienced administrator, seasoned and salted in film art, would be appointed to sustain the growth of the industry and its positive impact to the nation’s economy. Unfortunately, as everyone would allude, this is ‘Naija’, where a native doctor could be appointed Governor of the Central Bank, or where a pilot could perform a caesarian session without any batting of the eyelid. Never has it been so true like it played out at the NFC. This is a trend we trust His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari to change.

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