As you read this, the MOPICON review committee, set up by Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, are knocking heads together in a hotel conference room somewhere, trying to bring to life a document that will ultimately begin the final descent of the Nigerian film industry, popularly known as Nollywood.
Somewhere at the back of their minds, the members of this committee have convinced themselves that they are doing God’s work by insisting that there is need to regulate the movie industry as, in their opinion and conclusion, too many ‘untrained nobodies’ had found their way into the industry they created and therefore there is a need to kick them out so the industry may be salvaged from the filthy hands of these usurpers.
It will, of course, not occur to members of this committee that not ONE of them is responsible for any of the great films that define Nollywood; that many of them are stakeholders simply because they have hung around filmmaking for decades or contributed what is often not more than forgettable inconveniences.
So here is the good news: ultimately, the MOPICON Bill, in any shape or form, will fail.
- Alhaji Lai Mohammed is not stupid: The Buhari administration is daily cutting the picture of a draconian government, with media trials of alleged corrupt past government officials and all. But, whatever else he is, Alhaji Lai Mohammed is not stupid. At some point on this unfortunate attempt to resuscitate an idea dead on arrival like MOPICON, realisation will hit Alhaji Lai Mohammed and he’ll see the light and know that this MOPICON will be one of the greatest undoing of this government and the APC. Alhaji Lai Mohammed is reputed to be a liberator, not one to create hindrances to an industry that was built on free market ideals. We at TNS have been reliably informed by those who should know that the people that approached the minister and pleaded with him to bring back MOPICON lied to him about the status of the industry and this review process has revealed some truths to him and his people and now it is being whispered to him to drop this MOPICON nuisance.
- Peace Anyiam-Osigwe Vs Mahmood Ali-Balogun: “Nothing good can come out of any collaboration between Mr. Ali-Balogun and Ms. Anyiam Osigwe”, someone declared at a Nollywood gathering last week. It is already being rumoured that the review committee has split into groups, one led by Ms. Anyiam-Osigwe and the other by Mr. Ali-Balogun, who is still bitter over the fact that the minister chose Ms. Anyiam-Osigwe as head of the committee over him. We are told that Mr. Ali-Balogun and the Nigerian Film Corporation are in bed over MOPICON. In fact, it is alleged that it was a former DG of NFC, Mr. Afolabi Adesanya, that actually doctored the original MOPICON document and tried to secretly pass it at the NASS. Doesn’t matter to us. We just want it to rain…fire and brimstones to burn through all the factions and the committee in it’s entirety.
- The Young Have Grown: Inadvertently, the MOPICON bill has brought together younger Nigerian filmmakers like nothing before it. It took reading the bill, after it was made public by C.J Obasi, for younger filmmakers to realise that those who no longer work, if they ever have, were about to eat them for lunch. Since the bill was made public, groups of younger filmmakers, with support from a few older and wise ones, have sprung and are said to be blossoming. How far they will be willing to go to stop MOPICON from becoming a reality is yet to be seen. Beyond social media engagements, can these young ones take the battle to those who want to use MOPICON as their walking sticks in old age? According to someone familiar with their plans as soon as the review committee comes up with their document, “They underestimated those young guys and that was a major mistake”. Sounds like music to our ears.
- Common Sense Will Eventually Prevail: This is risky. Nigeria is not generally known as a place where common sense often prevails. However, it is becoming apparent daily that somehow, even the most ardent fans of MOPICON are coming to the realisation that it just doesn’t make sense and it will make Nigeria the butt of crude jokes at meetings of the filmmaking fraternity from Kano to Kalkuta and everywhere in-between. Those in favour of common sense prevailing say, worst case scenario, another body will be added to the many already created around Nollywood but it will not be backed by law and it certainly won’t be compulsory or punitive. We hope they are right.
- God Will Not Let It Happen: What is Nigeria without hope for divine intervention? It’s from the deep well of divine desires that this stems from. Somehow, God of Nigeria/Nigerians isn’t going to stand by and watch a small number of saviour self-elects ruin the great work done by His children in years past. What kind of God would God be if He stood by and watched that happen? After all, all Nollywood films are dedicated to Him. To God be the Glory.
There’s no easy way of saying this: In whatever shape or form, MOPICON is a needless distraction whose most ferocious proponents have never been able to explain what problems it is coming to solve. It has no place in any civilised society.