By Stephen Ajayi (www.eraveng.com)

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has inaugurated the Ministerial Committee on the review of the Motion Pictures Council of Nigeria (MOPICON) draft document. The event took place earlier today at the Conference Hall of National Theatre in Lagos.

The event had in attendance several Nollywood personalities who came to witness the inauguration. The Minister said the Committee members which include  Peace Anyiam Osigwe, Mahmood Ali Balogun, Anthony Anthony, Afam Chiazor, Fidelis Eweta, Biodun Abe,and Fred Amata have three weeks to conclude its work and submit its report to government. The Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) will provide Secretariat Services for the Committee.

Below is the full text of the Minister’s speech at the event….

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to be here today to inaugurate the Ministerial Committee on the Review of the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON) draft document. This event was earlier slated for Friday, April 8th 2016, but we were forced to postpone it because of the emergency Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja on April 7th on the 2016 budget. Let me therefore use this opportunity to apologise for the postponement.

Today’s inauguration is a fulfilment of the promise I made at the 3rd edition of the Kannywood Awards in Abuja on March 12th 2016 to set up a Ministerial Committee to review the MOPICON document with a view to fast-tracking its passage into law.

I have heard all the arguments for and against MOPICON. Some have argued that government has no business in helping Nollywood to set up a self-regulatory structure. I want to state here that in line with our overall responsibility for the nation’s information, culture and tourism policies, our role in helping to set up MOPICON is simply to enable Nollywood to play meaningful role in national development.

One of the ways we think we can tackle frontally the many challenges militating against professional and career fulfillment in the movie industry is to have a central body we can always refer to in decisions aimed at improving and modernizing the motion picture industry. Also, government’s interest in the setting up of MOPICON is driven by the fact that we at the supervising ministry need to work with a formidable representative group that is empanelled to lobby for the growth, development and welfare of the industry and its practitioners as well as make for a better organized and more visible and vibrant Nollywood industry. We have no hidden agenda and we will not be part of anything that will stifle the growth of the burgeoning industry.

Let me say that with our latest efforts, we are only building on past, commendable efforts to set up MOPICON, which started in the early 1990s, when Nigerian Motion Picture Practitioners under various bodies craved for the Council to engender sustainable growth of the industry based on best practices as well as practitioner’s protection and structured membership.

One of the best efforts in this regard was the setting up of the first Steering Committee for the Practitioners Council on April 4th 2005. The 17-member Committee, headed by Chief Tunde Oloyede, did a comprehensive work and submitted its report to the Federal Government in Nov. 2006. This was followed by the setting up, in April 2015, of an Advisory Interim Council to commence activities leading to the actualization of the take-off of MOPICON. Unfortunately, paucity of funds prevented the inauguration of the Interim Council.

We are not here to reinvent the wheel but to build on the good efforts of those who toiled hard in the past to set up MOPICON. Fortunately, some of the members of the Steering Committee that was set up in 2005 are also members of this Ministerial Committee.

We are not here to reinvent the wheel but to build on the good efforts of those who toiled hard in the past to set up MOPICON. Fortunately, some of the members of the Steering Committee that was set up in 2005 are also members of this Ministerial Committee.

Ladies and gentlemen, I need the support of the industry to achieve some of the plans I have outlined, both at the Roundtable with key stakeholders in the movie industry in Lagos on Feb. 5th 2016 and at the Kannywood Awards in Abuja on March 12th 2016. These plans include a revved up battle against piracy, the establishment of the National Endowment for the Arts and the need to reverse the lack of policy direction in the movie industry.

But I am wondering if I can get that kind of support with the level of disunity in the industry and the prevailing structural deficiency, which have not allowed the industry to speak with one voice. I cannot count the number of petitions I have received either for non inclusion in this committee or against the idea of MOPICON since I announced the constitution of the review committee. Some have even suggested that we are about to set up another agency that will muzzle creativity and dictate to them the kind of movies to produce.

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It is however important at this juncture to clarify that this is not another attempt to set up another content regulatory agency or another parastatal of government. Government is even thinking of merging existing institutions, hence it is not prepared to waste scarce resources in establishing another agency. MOPICON is and will remain an industry-run lobby and pressure body that will foster the achievement and maintenance of the highest professional and commercial standards in the motion picture industry as well as ensure the protection of the rights and privileges of motion picture practitioners in the lawful exercise of their profession.

I therefore urge the various interest groups to rise above their differences and work towards the harmonization of their positions. I have no doubt that things will change for the better for Nollywood once you all work towards properly setting up MOPICON. I believe that like APCON, MOPICON will emerge the most important intervention tool that the Nollywood requires to address some of its structural deficiencies.

I congratulate all members of the Review committee and charge them to, in the course of reviewing the document, elicit appropriate contributions from stakeholders and members of the public. To stem the controversy generated by the uploading of a certain MOPICON document, I am handing over to this Committee the following documents.

The fact that I am sending the documents back to the same source it came from for a review should absolve government from the allegation that we are about to set up another agency. The document I am handing over is your document, so please review as appropriate.

Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby formally inaugurate the Review Committee of the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON). The Committee has three weeks to conclude its work and submit its report to government. The Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) will provide Secretariat Services for the Committee.

 

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