Nigerian film industry stakeholders have kicked against a bill to transform the National Film Corporation (NFC) into a Commission. The heads of various associations, meeting in Lagos on Thursday, stressed their opposition to various clauses in the bill, which they said are inimical to the development of the Nigerian film industry.

Expressing anger at the development, Fred Amata, President of the Director Guild of Nigeria (DGN), lamented that the bill had reached second reading and the stakeholders only got to know of its existence at a public hearing on December 6, 2016, a meeting they were not even invited to.

“We would like to state very clearly and unequivocally that not only did we not have prior information to this hearing, but that the clauses that make up the bill for the Commission are inimical to the growth and development of the practice in Nigeria,” said Amata.

“And the major argument that we are positing is that a lot of the clauses of the bill are duplicating already existing rules and regulations that are housed in different organisations in Nigeria, including the National Film and Video Censors Board, the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission.”

Also, chairman of MOPICON Review Committee, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, stated that NFC failed in communicating its ambition to practitioners.

“If you want to pass a bill for an industry or a community of people, you would actually know those people and you will communicate with those people about what you want to put forward,” said Osigwe.

“We are against the way the film commission is trying to be implemented without the understanding of the stakeholders. And I will make bold to speak that while we were working on the MOPICON bill, we were totally frustrated by the NFC who were our secretariat, in trying to push, sit and have meetings during this period.”

On his part, Ralph Nwadike, Association of Movie Producers (AMP) described the move by Dadu as an affront, said the practitioners made Nollywood which government now wants to ride on.

“This man who can’t even keep his house clean is now trying to regulate an industry he doesn’t even know jack up,” said Nwadike.

“I think he should be told in clear terms, you cannot come and usurp what you don’t know.”

Notable filmmaker Mahmood Ali-Balogun stressed that the film commission should be a developmental agency for the film industry and that the Director General of the film commission should be a person with proven pedigree in motion picture practice contrary to what obtained presently.

Also present at the meeting were Norbert Ajaegbu of Film and Video Producer and Marketers Association (FVPMAN), Chidi Nwakobia of Screen Writers Guild of Nigeria, Emeka Samuel Aduah of FVPMAN, Fidelis Ewata of the Association of Motion Picture and Entertainment Editors of Nigeria (AMPEEN), Matthias Obahiagbon, founding president of DGN, Daisy Madu Chikwendu, president of the Association of Nollywood Core Producers and Andy Amenechi.

The sponsor of the bill, Dr. Danjuma Dadu, managing director of NFC, had said the content of the bill will re-engineer the film industry but the stakeholders were particular that certain clauses were detrimental from a practitioner’s standpoint.

The bill sought to repeal the Nigerian Film Corporation Act, Cap. N109 and empower the commission when established to handle production and exhibition of films, set up production and post-production facilities, establish cinemas and regulate motion picture practice through guilds and association.

At the public hearing of the bill on December 6, 2016 at the National Assembly, Abuja, it took the presence of Ali-Balogun, Madu Chikwendu and Charles Novia who heard about the public hearing through the grapevine to stall the bill’s progression, saying their guilds and associations had no knowledge of the public hearing until a few days before the deadline of December 1, 2016. Hence, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Chief Odebunmi Dokun, allowed the practitioners to go and review the bill and submit their memoranda on or before January 15, 2017, with Madu Chiwendu saddled with the task of coordinating the review. [The Nation]