NIGERIA and Ghana have always had a relationship of healthy friendship and rivalry. However, this relationship sometimes boils over. Last week in Lagos, a delegation of Ghanaian film producers and marketers paid their Nigerian counterparts a visit to ascertain the veracity of a purported ban of Ghanaian films in Nigerian market.

Indeed, it was, and Nigerian film marketers, in the presence of Zonal Director (South West), National Film and Video Censors Board NFVCB, Mr. Edward Edion, asked the Ghanaians to go clean up their house before their films could be re-admitted into Nigerian market.

Specifically, Nigerian marketers under the umbrella of Film and Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigerian are under pressure from NFVCB for films with indecent, nude content originating from Ghana, accusing them of colluding with Ghanaian marketers to bring such unregulated, uncensored films into Nigerian market.

Speaking on behalf of Nigerian movie marketers, Mr. Norbert Ajaegbu frowned at the way films from Ghana flood the Nigerian market without passing through the legal procedure for release of films in Nigeria. Most of these films, he said, were substandard and morally bankrupt, which under normal circumstances, would not be approved for release by the National Film and Video Censors Board.

However, what became clear from submissions from both sides was that there have been unethical practices from both sides that have impacted negatively on the marketing of movies between the two West African nations.

While indecent content in some Ghanaian films sneaked into the Nigerian market may have brought matters to a head, there were other simmering trade disputes of concern to both parties. Present at the forum were Zik Okafor, Nobert Ajaegbu, Reemy Jess and Cosmos Ndulue and a host of other Nigerian marketers and producers.

The Ghanaian films with indecent content that are smuggled into the Nigerian market, the association argued, were giving them a bad name and devaluing the market for films with the attendant losses in revenue.

They stated that some Ghanaian marketers refused to remit monies of the movies they sold and that a lot of Nigerian producers had lost money doing business with them. They accused Ghanaian marketers of not doing enough to protect their films in Ghana. They cited piracy as another issue plaguing Nigerian films taken to Ghana. They said cable TV, Ciniafric and other channels willfully show Nigerian films on their channels while Ghanaian marketers given such rights to sell such films do nothing to tackle such copyright violations.

In his submission, Censors Board’s Edion said films with indecent contents brought in from Ghana bore fictitious addresses such that those who bring them cannot be reached. However, what became clear was that a Nigerian syndicate was behind the entry of such illegal films, a position the Ghanaian producers and marketers insisted upon and for which they said they could not be held responsible.

On their part, the guests argued that since they were the legitimate producers and marketers who do genuine business with Nigerian marketers and producers, the ban on their films was unfair; they asked that their films be readmitted as before so both parties could work together to stamp out the defaulters.

They asked Nigerian marketers to work out a strategy, which both sides would adopt, to stem the tide of nude films flowing in from Ghana. On their part also, Ghanaian marketers and producers such as Mr. Mustapha Adam took their Nigerian counterparts to task on debt recovery from their Ghanaian business partners. They asked them to lodge such financial defaults to Ghana’s marketing association for necessary action. But they were bitter about the accusation on cable TV rights. They complained that after being given marketing rights to films from Nigerian, such rights were also given to TV channels to show such films, a situation that sometimes soured business relations.

Nevertheless, the argument stalemated after a while with the Nigerian marketers insisting that their visitors had all the work to do to bring things to normalcy. They eventually went into closed-door session.

At the end of deliberations, it was agreed that “Nigeria will no longer accept influx of Ghanaian films not approved by the National Film and Video Censors Board. In the on-going effort to steamline the Nigeria distribution system, any foreign film being released into the country must follow proper channels, compete fervently under perfect market forces and in total regard of all our existing municipal laws, contrary to the former practice.

“Sequel to the request for corroboration by the Ghanaian film producers and distributors, such possible areas of corroboration should be worked out for further talks between the two sides.”

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