REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PRESIDENT GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN, GCFR, ON THE OCCASION OF THE PREMIERE OF A NOLLYWOOD FILM “THE MEETING”, IN LAGOS, ON FRIDAY, 19TH OCTOBER, 2012.
1. Let me begin by thanking The Audrey Silva Company, Rita Dominic, Mildred Okwo and the entire team for the fantastic work you have done with The Meeting, which we have just seen. This movie will be much talked about in our country and our continent in the weeks ahead.
2. What you have done with The Meeting, reaffirms an indigenous progression in the movie industry that continues to inspire hope and helps to set agenda for our arrival as a nation of great reckoning.
3. This year, Africa’s global brand, Nollywood celebrates 20 years of an incredible run. From humble beginnings it is now described as more prolific than Hollywood, and forecasts and projections on the Nigerian economy are not complete without an exhaustive analysis on the Nollywood effect!
4. No one can challenge that Nollywood stars are now household names in our country and undeniably also, are mega stars in Africa. This has not come easy and it was not the handwork of government.
5. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, Nollywood’s rise is an exemplar of the power of Nigerian entrepreneurship. I believe that the future of our country will be dependent on the pool of talented human resources we are able to nurture and deploy to good use.
6. It bears reiterating that the wealth of our country is not in the oil or other mineral or forest resources, but in the creative ability and talents of our people. In the creative industry therefore lies some of our finest examples of the can-do-spirit of Nigerians.
7. According to The Economist “Kenneth Nnebue, a Nigerian trader based in Onitsha, was trying to sell a large stock of blank videocassettes he had bought from Taiwan. He decided that they would sell better with something recorded on them, so he shot a film called “Living in Bondage” about a man who achieves power and wealth by killing his wife in a ritualistic murder, only to repent later when she haunts him. The film sold more than 750,000 copies, and prompted legions of imitators”.
8. This story as narrated by the economist is not just the story of the humble beginning of Nollywood. It is the story of how Nigeria has come to be a major force in the African economy through hard work and creativity. All over Africa, Nigerians are doing business and adding value to their host societies and expanding and deepening the frontiers of continental solidarity.
9. We must celebrate Nollywood not just because of its great work in promoting our culture, but also on its contributions in the development of our country. The economic output of Nollywood is incredible, especially in the area of employment generation, youth empowerment and wealth creation.
10. Nollywood has the potential to employ more people and grow the Nigeria economy even further if some of the fundamental funding problems are dealt with. In 2010, we midwifed a two hundred million dollars soft loan via the Nexim and BOI to help deal with the obstacles that prevent the growth of this industry such as Piracy, Venture capital, a proper marketing and distribution network, the capacity building of filmmaker so as to improve quality and better production practices.
11. I have received reports of difficulties by enterprising members of the creative industry in accessing this fund. While we are working to put in place an effective framework to ease the bottlenecks in accessing this facility, I recently directed the Coordinating Minister of the Economy to create a new window under the YOUWIN Programme to allow in a short-term basis, some quick funds to support members of the creative industry. This stream of support will follow shortly.
12. I have maintained a candid and deep interest in Nollywod and I will continue to support its growth. In 2008 Through The Glass premiered at the Pacific Design Center Los Angeles on the 18th of October, and because of my commitment to the industry I was represented and gave what encouragement I could to the producers of the movie.
13. Three years earlier in 2005 while serving as Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, we supported the establishment of the first major reward system for African Film Makers, the African Movie Academy Award (AMAA) and today after 8 years it is Africa’s most prestigious award for filmmakers on the continent. Nigeria cannot afford to take a back seat in this very important enterprise. As a government, we will do all we can to support this industry.
14. In closing, let me also join you in remembering Audrey Hepburn who inspired The Audrey Silva Company but is no more and also to recognize Joke Silva a living legend for being an inspiration to you and many in the industry particularly among the women.
15. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, my wish is that this film will further inspire the industry to continue to grow from strength to strength. It is clear for all to see that in her march to greatness, our country Nigeria is unstoppable.
16. I thank you and do have a great evening.