In case you missed it, Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, paid a visit to the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) on Saturday, July 15th, 2017, and during that time, declared the need for Nigerian music producers (artists included) to produce their music in Nigeria. He believed it hurt jobs and the entertainment industry that these producers produce in South Africa, yet import their products to Nigeria for local consumption. Below was his alleged statements during his visit:
“This government has agreed that henceforth, whatever we consume in Nigeria in terms of music and films, must be made in Nigeria. We cannot continue to go to South Africa or any other country to produce our films and then send them back to be consumed in Nigeria. The Broadcasting Code and the Advertising Code are very clear on this. For you to classify a product as a Nigerian product, it must have a certain percentage of Nigerian content.
When they get there, they will patronise the economy of that country and then bring the products back to Nigeria for us to consume. It is like somebody going to China or Japan to make a product that looks like palm wine and bring it back home to label it Nigerian palm wine. As long as we are not able to implement our own code to ensure local production of Nigerian music and movies, our young talents will not get jobs. It is Nigerians that pay for the consumption of these products and therefore they must be allowed and encouraged to participate in their production. I am going to meet with the relevant stakeholders over this, to see that whatever amendment that is needed to be made to our Broadcasting Code in this regard, is done urgently.”
Okoye took to Twitter and reacted strongly and angrily to the statement by scolding the Nigerian government, reminding them the entertainment industry helps preserve the country’s reputation, and closing with “sometimes he is ashamed to be called Nigerian.” His brother Jude Okoye also jumped in with a similar tone, and admonishment.
JUDE OKOYE’S REACTION
‘Smh. An industry they NEVER encouraged, supported or empowered is what they now want to control. Let all of you stop running to abroad when you are sick as na naija money una dey use patronize oyibo hospital dem. You people are the ones refusing to fix our health facilities so u travel out when mosquito bite una.
So why tell us where to record when u can’t provide uninterrupted power here in Nigeria. Sometime I wonder how we got it all wrong. Una children when dey sch for abroad na which money una dey use patronize them? Abeg stfu!’
MS. UDUAK’S TAKE
I believe Okoye’s reaction is too strong, very reactionary and unnecessarily dramatic, and so is that of Jude Okoye. This is because Peter Okoye and ALL local Nigerian artists are directly benefiting from a local content requirement placed and implemented years back by the Federal Government on Nigerian broadcasters.
Once upon a time, Nigerian broadcasters (radio and television) rarely ever played local content. In the case of music, foreign artists flooded airwaves and were the preferred and number one choice for millions of Nigerians. This created an atmosphere where local artists simply could not compete. It wasn’t until the very same Federal Government Okoye is abusing implemented a local content requirement mandating that at least 60% of open television broadcast in the country had to be local content; and 80% local broadcast for radio, that we have seen a major explosion and demand for local Nigerian music. Today, most will attest that in Nigeria, radio and television stations play, primarily songs by Nigerian artists.
Today’s musicians are not necessarily making better music than their predecessors. What they have is more reach driven primarily by television and radio broadcasting of their songs. Yes. I am aware of the digital revolution but on the ground, radio and television still control the majority of the media and entertainment market share. Therefore, Okoye saying, “sometimes I am ashamed to be a Nigerian” on this specific issue is way too strong, unnecessary and his response is rooted strictly in emotions rather than the facts. Okoye and other stakeholders in Nigeria’s music industry need to have a sit-down and discuss with the minister what exactly prevents them from taking advantage of shooting their music videos in Nigeria.
Why jump on a plane with your crew and hire local services in a foreign country to shoot your music videos when your own country remains completely unexplored? This is an issue I have discussed at length on this blog. It’s the same attitude we have across all aspects of the music industry value chain. If it is not foreign produced or validated, it is not good enough for us.
Also, Nigerian artists and other stakeholders need to come to the table with some figures. How many music videos are produced in Nigeria? How many overseas? Will a local content requirement drive costs up for the fans? If so, how? How about the local music video directors? Do they care that these directors may not be able to compete if artists like Peter Okoye shoot multi-million naira videos in South Africa?
Traditionally in the music industry, the point of a music video is to market and promote the purchase of the music (cassettes, Vinyl, CDs) an artist is selling. In a day and age of streaming and downloads (MP3s), what is the case to be made by an artist for not producing a music video locally to promote the sale of the music, especially digitally? Is production cost so high they need to be shot in South Africa? Why should local broadcasters (radio and television) be required to play by the rules which tremendously benefit local artists but local artists want to produce their content overseas?
Nigeria has beautiful states like Cross River, Akwa-Ibom, Abuja and much more that are ideal for shooting their music videos. What’s the problem? Why are they not being used? Is the disease of western consumerism the problem or is something else going on? How many American artists do you see traveling out of America to shoot their music videos?
By the way, there are many outlets reporting that the minister wants to “ban” production overseas. Bloggers and other media, read the minister’s statement in its entirety and try to report accurately because the “ban” statement is misleading.
The minister is saying:
- Free trade is great but it can’t be to the detriment of our citizens and local industry.
- Whether you are Nigerian or a foreigner, you can’t be in Nigeria and produce a majority of your content overseas but import to Nigeria to sell. It hurts our local economy and our citizens.
- What we will do (which is done everywhere including in South Africa), is exercise one of our instruments of trade policy. In this instance, we feel the best tool is a local content requirement placed on the artists or other stakeholders who produce 100% of their content overseas but still want to categorize the product as “Nigerian” produced. He also says he will sit with stakeholders and have that discussion before encouraging an urgent amendment to the current code to reflect a definition of “locally produced content” that protects jobs and local industry. By the way, I believe South Africa has a local content requirement of 90%.
You don’t like it, Peter? Get off social media and get in the room where actual policy and deal making takes place to engage in meaningful dialogue, rather than rant about how “ashamed” you are at being a Nigerian. That is a very strong and unnecessarily dramatic response to a seemingly reasonable concern that affects the local economy. You are not entitled to be wealthy off Nigerians. It’s a privilege that they like your product and spend their hard earned Naira to afford you a lifestyle they will never afford in their lifetimes. Your goal, if you do care about your Nigerian fans and fellow citizens, is to see how to keep as much money in the community, as a way of giving back, rather than spend it outside the country.