Monday, 04 March 2013 / StateHouse
Unedited remarks by his Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, at a dinner in celebration and honour of Nollywood, March 02, 2013 at the State House, Marina, Lagos.
1. It is with great joy that we are gathered today on this memorable occasion to celebrate our own dear NOLLYWOOD. I had intended to host Nollywood last year, in celebration of 20 years of industry and achievement by its members. But the event was postponed, as it coincided with the burial of my late brother, Meni Jonathan. Let me seize this opportunity to express my appreciation to all of you for standing by my family during that sad period.
2. Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, there are three major endeavours that easily unite Nigerians. They bring us joy and promote the oneness of our great country, irrespective of our ethnic, social or political affiliations.
3. One is sports. You could see how joyous Nigerians were when the national football team, the Super Eagles, won the African Cup of Nations in South Africa. Every Nigerian was proud of the achievement.
4. Another is music. Nigerians do not discriminate against one another when they are listening to tunes churned out by our artistes. It does not matter from which part of the country the producer hails from or in what language the song is rendered. What matters is the sweet melody. We are all Nigerians when we listen to it.
5. And now very proudly, there is our national global brand, Nollywood. Our movies are now a major item on the entertainment menu of many countries. Nigerians, home and abroad, are very proud of Nollywood.
6. Whenever I travel abroad, many of my colleagues, Presidents of other countries, ask me about Nollywood. Nollywood is our shining light. Africans are very proud of Nollywood. That is why we are here today to celebrate the success story of this national, continental and global brand.
7. In September 1992 when the home video, Living in Bondage, was released into the Nigerian market, little did anybody know that a revolution was about to sweep through our movie industry. As it were, our film industry had been living in bondage, with moderate successes recorded only in fits and starts.
8. The early film makers, such as Francis Oladele, Hubert Ogunde, Ola Balogun and Eddie Ugbomah, were not helped by the heavy production budgets and little returns that the industry had to offer. But Living in Bondage, produced by Kenneth Nnebue on VHS for home viewing, broke the jinx and eventually kick-started what we now know as Nollywood.
9. In a matter of 20 years, Nollywood has grown in such proportions that the whole world has come to acknowledge it as an authentic success story. Maybe Kenneth Nnebue should have titled his movie “Breaking out of Bondage”. The industry has practically been delivered from bondage in the last two decades.
10. Today, Nollywood is rated as the biggest movie industry in Africa and competes favourably with America’s Hollywood and India’s Bollywood in terms of production and market size. Researchers have estimated that Nollywood sells at least 50,000 copies of home videos every week. That is 2.6 million copies per year.
11. They also estimate that there are about 1,200 productions in a year. That is 23 per week. Depending on whose figures you are quoting, the worth of the industry is getting close to about N79 billion.
12. Also, thousands of Nigerians and non-Nigerians are employed, both directly and indirectly, by Nollywood. We have produced hundreds of stars and megastars. All Nigerians and I are very proud that our productions are currently shown at mainstream cinemas in Western countries and that our stars are now getting global recognition, including invitations to participate in movies produced in other countries.
13. This is an encouraging endorsement in a world where anything from Africa is often received with cynicism. More importantly, through the movies produced in indigenous languages, our languages, worldview, and aspects of our history, traditions and cultures are being documented and projected positively.
14. The amazing story of Nollywood must be put in proper perspective. It was not started with any seed money from government. It was not established with any intervention or prompting from government.
15. Rather, it is the marvellous result of the efforts of extremely talented Nigerians working very hard on their own with their God-given abilities to overcome the most difficult challenges and thrive on the global stage.
16. The success of Nollywood shows that there is no denying the fact that Nigerians are a people of great capacity and determination. We have creativity, we have perseverance and we also have excellence in our midst as the accomplishments of Nollywood clearly show. They are also a glorious testimony to the ability of very determined Nigerians to overcome the most daunting of challenges and soar to triumphant success in any field of human endeavour.
17. Nollywood would certainly not have become what it is today if our producers and artistes had thrown up their hands in despair after encountering financial and technical challenges for several decades. Definitely, we have every reason to celebrate the great talents, skills, artistry, courage, dedication, and commitment which have earned global acclaim for your industry.
18. I assure you that my Administration will continue to give Nollywood every possible support and assistance to take the Nigerian movie industry to even greater heights of success. I have invited the private sector to this dinner because I believe that they can also support efforts to further develop our entire creative industry.
19. Encouraged by the feedback we have received from you on our administration’s support for Nollywood, we have further designed a programme known as “Project Nollywood,” to support the key components of the industry’s value chain through a dedicated grant, totalling N3 billion. It will include grants for the best film scripts; a capacity development fund, and funds for supporting the industry’s infrastructure. The scheme which will be launched in the first week of April, will be managed by the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
20. In addition, I have asked NEXIM and the Bank of Industry to redouble their efforts in assisting the industry to access loans.
21. I am aware that till date, NEXIM has extended about N766 million in loans to a number of companies involved in film production, cinemas, and distribution, with another scheduled N1.4 billion for projects in the industry. This should be sustained.
22. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, Nollywood has already achieved great success but it must not rest on its laurels. It is often said that while getting to the top may be hard, remaining there is often more challenging. Our producers, scriptwriters, actors, actresses, and others who work in the movie industry must therefore continue to work with zeal to further improve on the quality and content of their productions.
23. In the last 20 years, you have become an export item for Nigeria. I challenge you to become the major export item in the next 20 years. Our national income is currently dominated by the oil sector. I believe that with continued hard work, Nollywood could begin to challenge the oil sector’s domination in the years ahead.
24. Finally, let me thank you and appreciate you once again for the great things you are doing to the economy as well as the image of Nigeria.
25. I thank you all.