Bringing back the 80’s, the Federal Government of Nigeria is looking to ban Nigerian creatives and musicians from making films and music videos outside of Nigeria. The details of how this piece of legislation might work are not known right now, but this is reminiscent of a certain oppressive government that looked to take away the freedom of the media.
That particular government shutdown the media and people that negated anything they decided on. This time, this government is trying to change the status quo and rightly so.
To shoot videos in other countries, there is a lot of money that is shifted from one economy to another. This shift deprives the local economy from opportunities for development in experience in crafts as well as movement of money through the economy.
It should be noted that back in 1999, the Federal Government of Nigeria instituted a policy that mandated all broadcast stations in Nigeria to pay attention to Nigerian music by playing 95 percent of Nigerian songs every day. That move helped grow the Nigerian music industry as the airwaves were dominated by foreign only music.
Here are some takeaways from the potential legislation.
1. Nigeria is not ready for that type of ban
While Nollywood is the third biggest film industry in the world, Nollywood is greatly behind in terms of available technology. Recent movie releases have done great for the Nigerian movie industry. Isoken and The Wedding Party have done very well as they were story based films and did well with the cameras available to make for crisp images, but Slow Country was a little lacking because it required a lot more than is available in Nigeria at the moment. CGI is expensive and generally unavailable in Nigeria. With Banana Island Ghost coming out in August, we might just see something better as a measure of Nigeria’s readiness, but not right now.
2. What exactly will the ban be banning? Will the ban be banning the music from airing in Nigerian stations? Well, the government is playing themselves. NTA is dead, Rhythm 93.7 has not been relevant in ages, and you can’t selectively censor YouTube. The music lives there and will keep leaving. Will the government criminalise them? Ah! Will they be denied entry back to Nigeria and will their citizenships be revoked? I know a couple of people that have been praying for that.
3. Nigeria just makes an ‘on the surface law’ but why are Nigerians shooting videos outside Nigeria?
We say we want to stop abortions as a nation but we do not take importance in sex and family planning education. We do not provide people with free or cheap contraception. We love to make grand moves as a nation, but there are a lot of deeper problems we do not look at. Making films in Nigeria is stressful. Beyond the aesthetic, Nigeria lacks a certain technical knowhow to deliver on some types of films.
4. Globalisation has changed the market
The market for music videos has changed. Nobody does anything to serve Nigeria alone. The Pan-african agenda has helped move the careers of a lot of African artistes with PSquare selling out shows and concerts outside Nigeria. It only makes sense that their approach to music and videos be different.
There are a lot of things wrong with Nigeria at the moment, a ban on content by Nigerians is not one of it.
Oluwatosin Adeshokan is a freelance journalist and writer reporting stories about West Africa. He was previously the Culture Editor for YNaija. He tweets at @TheOluwatosin