Prof. Olu Obafemi, the President, Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL) said Nigeria’s dependence on oil as major source of revenue had hindered the development of its rich creative industry.
Obafemi, who is a Professor of English at the University of Ilorin made this known in an interview with our correspondent on the sidelines of a two-day empowerment programme for young filmmakers in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun.
The event was organised by the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) to enable participants grow viable ventures in the movie industry.
Obafemi, who earlier spoke as a resource person on the topic, “Why Film is a Key Aspect of Development”, noted that successive government had neglected the huge potential abound in the nation’s creative industry.
“Oil has stopped Nigeria from developing its rich creative industry, especially the rich cultural heritage as a key to the much talked about economic diversification.
“We are too dependent on oil, and this has made authorities not to give attention to the development of our cultural economy.
“All over the world, culture has become a major source of revenue as nations package their cultures in films and export them.
“The sector has what it takes to be an alternative source of national income, create job and reduce unemployment,” he said.
Obafemi noted further that “Nollywood is Nigeria’s key representation on the stage of global economy.”
He therefore urged government at all levels to provide enabling environment and show political will to develop the creative sector.
He identified piracy, insecurity and lack of adequate infrastructure as some of the banes facing the sector, making it unattractive to both local and foreign investors.
“I believe that if the enabling environment is created and the right policies are there, they sector will strive.
“If our roads are not usable and the environment is not secure how do you expect filmmakers to go to shooting locations
“The industry is capital intensive, and to produce very good films, you will need millions of dollars, and this is where funding becomes a major setback to the Nigerian filmmakers,“ he added.
Earlier, Mr Adedayo Thomas, the Executive Director of the NFVCB, explained that the empowerment programme was part of effort by the board to rally support for upcoming practitioners in the movie industry across the country.
“As the key regulator of the Nigerian motion picture industry, the board has decided to bring practical knowledge of how to be successful in the sector to these passionate youths.
“We have brought these experts from the academia as well as seasoned practitioners in the industry to train these youths for them to build a successful career in the sector,” he said.
Over 250 youths were given start-up grants at the end of the two-day workshop.
Our correspondent reports that the NFVCB is a Federal Government body that regulates the films and video industry in Nigeria.
The board is empowered by law to classify all films and videos whether imported or produced locally.
It is also the duty of the board to register all films and videos outlets across the country and to keep a register of such registered outlets among other functions.