By Perekeme Odon
The National Film and Video Censors Board Stakeholder Consultative Engagement with Guild / Association heads and representatives in the Nigerian motion picture industry on conversations focused on new policy directions to further advance the sector was an accomplished welcome development.
It was the first meeting of its kind where the content creators, practitioners, and distributors were called for dialogue to process and absorbed on the conditions for successful collaboration.
The meeting chaired by the NFVCB Executive Director / CEO, Alhaji Adedayo Thomas held at the Ikoyi office of the Board on Monday, February 10, 2020, called for discussions on the revival of fundamental prevailing regulations and policies in order to advance the sector and enhance its robustness with the outcome of effective findings and implementation of the Board’s proposal to ensure coordinated response operation by practitioners.
Speaking on the essence of the meeting, the Censor’s Board, Executive Director, Adedayo Thomas welcomed and appreciated everyone presents for coming within a short notice and emphasized stakeholders knowing certain rules in the constitution that we have refused to obey.
“I didn’t want to put it as an emergency meeting but it calls for that. There are some rules in the constitution that we have decided to shun or be soft on them because we have to build confidence and create an enabling environment for the industry.” He informed practitioners to be very aware of the placement of the Nigerian movie industry in the world and the needful needs to be done.
The CEO appreciates the inputs of what the cinema has done by bringing global recognition to see Nigeria as a market place in the film industry by expanding the market in terms of rating and publicity. “ I will keep saying it that the cinemas are the only set of platforms that are providing us with correct figures, exposing us further than what we think we can be, if not by now we would still be relying on the hope of ‘Living In Bondage.”
Alhaji Thomas said the DVD / VCD market is still number one and one of the major contributors to the economy, but they do not have the statistics because of their markets overshoot that of cinemas, and keeps wondering why people criticize cinema when there are other available channels.
The CEO stated that practitioners exerting their rights to freedom of association will not be pressured into joining a particular body or guild, and would have the privilege to decide on which registered guild or association to belong to. “We urgently need to address the proliferation of the industry by those that have no business with the industry that are springing up, hence the need to identify strictly those who are in the industry. NFVCB is the only regulatory body of the film industry in Nigeria. There is going to come to a time that we need to recognize the guilds and associations because we have over 200 guilds.“
He signaled an advance warning that by the second quarter, a yearly Verification and Documentation fee shall be requested from all Guilds/Associations willing to be recognized by the Board. “All recognized guild and association, no matter how minimum is going to pay a token fee to the Board. We also need to be supplied those who distribute under them.”
He said a lot of producers give content to unregistered distributors that abound everywhere. That is why everyone must belong to a guild or association before their works can be distributed, and the only recognized association is the Cinema Exhibition Association of Nigeria (CEAN). He advised executive producers to be part of CEAN if not their works would not be approved for distribution.
He went on to say independent executive producers must have a distributor before coming to censor their films because you cannot stand as an individual to distribute your content, even if the constitution does not compel anyone to associate with any guild. “It is the same constitution that gave birth to us for professional reason. You can be an independent executive producer, but when you censor your film, we can only approve it with the clause of ‘Not to be distributed.”
One of the successes of the NFVCB CEO is the ideas and principles of always conferring with the stakeholders of the Nigerian movie industry by having them involved in decision-making processes, which he perceived as giving back the industry to the rightful owners, majorly the guilds/associations’ heads.
Alhaji Thomas apologized to any shortcomings experienced by stakeholders and practitioners by the Censor Board in terms of censorship and delivery and advised producers to always ask for a certificate of censorship on any of their films, rather than forging one for distributorship.
“You must not collect any letter from the NFVCB but a certificate of censorship and distribution. There are a few distribution outlets I visited that are sabotaging this country by airing uncensored contents, and we are going to go after them. The broadcast house needs to confirm from the NFVCB before airing any new content and most suppliers of contents to unregistered distributors are not even members of your guilds and associations.”
The climax of the meeting reached following conclusions drawn in line with the ‘National Film and Video Censors Board Enabling Law Act, 1993 CAP N40 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004 and Regulations 2008.’
He divulged that inasmuch as we want the industry to grow, the little laws should be obeyed. The NVFCB cannot be everywhere at the same time. Trailers should be submitted to the Board earlier before the premiere or release date. “No foreign film is allowed in this country, except providing us with all the details for us to classify them. What goes on YouTube and WhatsApp is difficult to control. Trailers of films classified 18 or higher shall not be broadcast on a television station or any other station before 10 pm unless approved by the Board. Posters advertising films classified 18 or higher shall not be placed near schools and other places which carter for persons below the age of 18.”
He decisively resolved that the Board would hold Guilds and Associations heads responsible for all breaches, violations, and infringements of the laws and regulations governing the industry. All Guilds and Associations should channel their protests or complaints authoritatively to the Board in writing with acknowledged evidence as may be relevant. Guilds/Associations should also assist the Board in pinpointing and reporting both internal and external trespassers and their despicable accomplishments through available channels with the Office of the Executive Director.
The Chairman, Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN) Mr. Patrick Lee commended the efforts of Adedayo Thomas-led Censor’s Board for recognizing CEAN and pledged to submit trailers and posters as quickly as possible for proper classifications to be done. He furthermore promised to always provide content that is properly authorized. He beseeched with the Board to look into the additional pressure and burdens on the finances of every guild/association to be paid to the Board, and hope it should be something affordable.
Some of the Stakeholders that were at the meeting include President, Association of Movie Producers (AMP), Mr. Ralph Nwadike, Group Executive Director, FilmOne, Moses Babatope (CEAN), President ANCOP, Mrs. Daisy Madu-Chikwendu, National Theatre PRO, Ogundele Steve, NANTAP President, Israel Eboh, Chairman, NANTAP Lagos State, Makinde Adeniran, CDGN Lagos State Chairman, Mrs. Joy Osawaru-Akinyemi, President Screenwriters Guild of Nigeria (SWGN), Yinka Ogun, Chairman, AGN Lagos State, Moji Oyetayo, Bukola Thomas (AGN Lagos), ANTP President, Adewale, Adeoye Elesho, Babatunde Thomason (ANTP), and National Treasurer AMP, Amb. Queen Blessing Ebigieson.
Others include Bukola Thomas, Happiness Erike (NFVCB Lagos), Clement Ogbo (NFVCB Lagos), Opeyemi Ajayi (Genesis/CEAN), Yemi Amadu (TAMPAN), National PRO CDGN, Leo Omoseebi, National PRO DGN, Perekeme Odon, President Akwa / Cross, Umoh Umoh, Secretary-General, SWGN, Tari West, Kemi Adekomi (AGN), Thessy Whyte (Akwa/Cross), PRO FVPMN Lagos State, Pascal Ezenwa, Emeka S. Aluah (FVPMN), Dayo Pelumi (NFVCB Lagos), Mary Edem Ephraim (Homeland films), Jide Ologel (EMCOAN), Adekunle Ojo (Genesis), and scores of others.