The Nigerian entertainment industry is growing at an unstoppable rate. We unarguably have the best talents in the whole of Africa; limiting us to the shores of Nigeria is a disservice. In no time, our entertainers will start earning as much as – if not more than – their counterparts in developed countries. At least, that’s the dream and it is work in progress. In the nearest future, we will hear Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Genevieve Nnaji, Richard Mofe-Damijo and the likes gulp billions of Naira each year. It is funny how we don’t even get to know how much these entertainers earn every year from movies roles. We deserve to know; we’re the fans after all. Is it not all possible to have platforms created to provide us with reliable data, not speculations, on how much each artiste earns in a year? Well, that’s something I would like to write about some other time.
Nollywood and the music industry have grown together in the last couple of years like Siamese twins. We have recorded more movie exports than all the African countries put together. Our music acts have become the most-sought-after for collaborations here and there. Concerts in most African countries cannot be said to be enjoyed without a Nigerian act in attendance, more often than not as the headline artiste. Every single day, new acts are cropping up with ‘gbedu wey dey burst brain’ (irresistible beats) being produced by equally talented producers and lasers. The contributions of Nollywood and our music industry (how come no one has come up with a befitting nomenclature for the music industry?) to Nigeria’s GDP are indeed commendable. By 2019, the industry is estimated to have the potential to gross in US$8.1 billion. If only the government could provide additional support to tackle some of the recurring challenges in the sector, more revenue can be squeezed out and our economy will stand at a vantage position.
Worthy of note is our creative arts industry. The illustrators, artists, designers, cartoonists and so on. For the purpose of this article, I will refer to them as second-level entertainers. No intention to derogate or minimize their arts. In fact, I appreciate all kinds of creative works. This category of professionals are also entertainers. They entertain us with their respective works of arts. And truly, Nigerians have an impeccable hunger for these creative outputs. It’s a bit shocking why these second-level entertainers do not get as much recognition as their counterparts. While I understand there is an urgent need to promote these kind of arts, it’s also important for the players to carry one another along by way of lending helping hands and more importantly through word of mouth.
If our entertainment industry wields such an enviable influence and it’s at the heart of everything in Africa, then we need to saddle the players in the industry with weightier responsibilities. After all, to whom much is given, much is expected. Besides, the task of growing our economy is a collective responsibility because either directly or indirectly, we all milk from the economy. And at the moment, the cow has grown surprisingly lean, with barely enough milk. Whose fault is it that we’ve fed the cow with just grass? Whose fault is it that now that the pasture isn’t as green as it used to, the cow can’t even feed well, talk less of generating enough milk for others to consume? The cow shall regain its weight. Its nutrients shall return. There shall soon be milk for all, enough to go round. But only when it starts to consume a lot more than just grass. Thankfully, all hands are on deck to ensure this anticipated lot befalls the cow.
More than anyone else, our entertainers have a lot to do to attract more people to our tourist sites. These sites have enormous potentials to generate more revenue than the current statistics indicate. Our entertainers are like our mirrors to the world. Granted, they have done well in portraying to the entire world the diversity in our cultures, lifestyles and ethnicity. Through our films and music videos, the world now knows us well now. What about promoting our tourist sites through these means? How about taking deliberate measures to shoot some of their music videos at these sites? It’s not every time we should be portraying sex appeals, let’s incorporate the storyline to include the promotion of our numerous tourist sites. Let me put this in proper context: an average music video from any of our tier A artistes, such as Olamide, Davido, Yemi Alade, Omawunmi, Waje will get over a million YouTube views from across the world. Imagine if such a video was shot in any of these tourist sites! Over a million people worldwide will see and appreciate what we have and probably decide to visit!
Docudramas can also be very instrumental. Nollywood scripts should start accommodating the inclusion of these sites into its production. In addition to using the sites as set locations, storylines should also be developed within this line. No doubt, I understand the financial restraint this might pose. It is especially important for movie producers to seek for partnerships with government agencies. I do not think the Mbanefo-led Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) will refrain from supporting any work of art that seeks to promote tourism in Nigeria. I think our movie producers also need to get creative about sourcing for funds. There are a number of private organisations that are willing to put their money down to support such projects. Those who can’t commit to the project with funds can provide non-monetary supports such as manpower development (directing), free hotel rooms for the cast & crew, provision of state-of-the-art equipment and many more.
The role of government in making this recommendation witness the first sun cannot be over emphasized. An enabling environment has to be created and maintained. Access to funds, grants and loans needs to be improved. Government needs to facilitate or subsidize access to international trainings. I still believe there are a lot we can achieve with public-private partnerships. Much to our surprise, the abandoned stone might eventually become our cornerstone.