‘Our films must showcase positive values’
‘I miss being a safari driver’
BY FRED ITUA
Dr. Chidia Maduekwe is a medical doctor with a passion for the film industry. As the newly-appointed Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Film Corporation (NFC), Dr. Maduekwe is in the league of versatile proffessionals who love to test their strength on other fields. Endowed with a fertile mind, the new NFC boss declares he is always eager to tread the lonely paths and his new assignment at the NFC validates that. Speaking with Effect, the medical doctor unveils his mission at the film industry’s regulatory agency among other issues.
Tell us about your childhood years
I was born to late Rev and Mrs Maduekwe. My father was a church minister/ headmaster. I grew in the rural provincial setting of Ngwaland in Abia State with its pristine calmness. The experience would later influence my desire to serve the rural communities as a young medical doctor committed to putting smiles on the faces of our rural populace whose geographic and demographic potentials, naturally denied them access to healthcare.
I can recall the time the German government through its developmental agency(GTZ) bought into this passion to serve the rural communities when it approved in mid-80s to support my private sector rural healthcare initiative .The project was ensured by the existing technical protocol aid agreement secured in 1979 by Mrs Ebun Oyagbola, the then minister of National Planning during former president Shehu Shagari-led administration. We had presence in the then Imo and Borno states. The farther away I was from the norm, the more exciting it was to serve. It excites me to walk the road less traveled which most people don’t expect to have any chance of turning out successful. The adrenaline rush of uncertainty gives me the kick. In other words I love riding the wild bronco horse and getting it to behave.
What has life taught you?
Life has taught me to be committed and determined in any given assignment I lay my hands on. Also, I have learnt that it is important to believe in your maker. As a christian, prayer is the key and although waiting on the LORD may appear unending, the morning is always assured once you cast your burden onto HIM that gave you the breath of life. I have chosen to just serve humanity and worship my God till eternity. I always say that I know where HE (my God) is bringing me from and I’m not afraid as to where HE is taking me. I have learnt to trust and obey my father’s will and purpose in my life.
How do you unwind?
Like driving a 4×4 off the road and testing cars to their limit. I missed being a safari driver. Growing as a child, I was always excited about the hope that one day, I would feature in Dakar Rally.
What is your fashion statement
I’m cosmopolitan in nature. My environment drives my fashion. In the village, I’m a complete village man. I tie my wrapper and drink palm wine ,Among people in my newest constituency, that is the movie industry, fashion and music stakeholders, I drink preferably, French or Chilean red wine specifically the very aged ones.
With your new appointment, what are you bringing on board to the corporation?
We shall seek collaboration with professionals in the industry, stakeholders, relevant government agencies and investors, with a view to synergising appropriately and create the needed impetus to propel the industry into a higher orbit. We will aspire to lead the industry from the vantage position of a government agency and use the platform as an enabler in a globally competitive industry. This way, film making shall become a professionally rewarding calling and a profitable investment, impressive enough to attract credible foreign investments.
To achieve these what kind of approach are you going to use?
As we embark on our new assignment, we’ll redouble our efforts toward ensuring that the change agenda of the President Buhari-led administration takes the centre-stage in our film industry. We must begin to showcase the positive values of our society and ensure that this generation and indeed future generations imbibe positive norms, ethos and values that can shape their thinking and attitudinal behaviours. To enable us achieve our objectives, we beckon on all stakeholders to gird their loins for the arduous tasks ahead. We’re not under any illusion that the task will be easy or that we can achieve it single-handedly. For this reason, we shall at all times seek the input of notable experts and players in the sector to enable us realize the
vision of Mr.President.
We envision a film industry that will meet global standards and serve as a means of employment generation for our teeming youths, create wealth for the practitioners and add to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Therefore, to successfully reposition the Nigerian film industry, we intend to lay emphasis on regular training, re-training and skills acquisition. We believe that these can be realized in collaboration with local and international partners.
How do you intend to use the theatre to enhance Nigeria’s foreign relations?
We intend to use the theatre to convey positive messages that will change the existing negative perception of our country abroad. The new focus of our film Industry under my watch shall contribute massively towards a new national narrative of Nigeria and its citizens. Nigerian civilization needs to interact with other civilizations to properly inform them of wh
at true Nigeria means. Alternatively, our theatre shall henceforth, in addition to entertainment, aim at creating the hitherto elusive global fraternity and peace by educating and inspiring the rest of the world to honour our sacred heritage.
What are your plans for Nollywood?
Under the rebasing conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in 2013, the film industry accounted for more than 1.4% of GDP or $7.2 billion of Nigeria’s economy. It is intended that Nollywood contributes up to 10% of the GDP under the present economic diversification agenda of Mr. President. Nigeria’s Nollywood industry, now captured under “Motion pictures, sound recording and music production,” has taken a huge leap to about N9trn in size.
With an estimated one million people directly or indirectly working in the industry, the making, distributing and screening of moving pictures have become the country’s second-biggest source of employment after agriculture. Nollywood generates at least $590 million annually. This is still a small number, given the scale of Nigeria’s economy and its population. It is an industry that if given the enabling environment can compete with oil as to which becomes the country’s number one revenue earner. If and when Nollywood becomes a substantial earner of foreign exchange to boost the external reserves and strengthen the naira, then exporting Nollywood is a competitive alternative to oil and gas.
Over the last two decades, the Nigerian Film industry has evolved into a veritable platform for the ex
position and promotion of Nigeria’s cultures, traditions, norms and values. For our domestic audience, our movies should complement the efforts of the National Orientation Agency and/or the Ministry of Information in mobilizing the Nigerian citizenry towards a more exalted patriotism and public enlightenment to instill the much chanted, national integration to complement government NYSC programme. The Corporation will use theatre to correct the unacceptable drift of our films towards cultural dislocation of our society. Nollywood is a link between our past and present, our old and young, our ancient and modern times, but more importantly as a bridge between us and other climes.
A major stock on our agenda is to facilitate funding for project realisations in the industry. We will review and align the CBN $200 million entertainment industry intervention fund and the N300 million released for the Project Act Nollywood. We shall periodically, conduct investors’ engagement platforms where producers meet institutional and private investors, local and foreign to prospect and close deals leading to contract executions. We are conscious of the growing need to be technically competitive in our productions as an industry. Though we intend to be prolific in our production output, however, as an industry player, we are committed to upgrading the collective technical capacity of the industry. To realize this, we shall promote the conducive environment that will encourage the thriving of motion pictures equipment leasing groups. They would warehouse contemporary production equipment chains made available to be hired by production houses at very competitive rate.
Concomitant with up to date technical capacity is production capacity building of professionals in different segments in the production value chain. The Nigerian Film Institute and media arts studies shall continue to receive greater attention and investment as an accredited polytechnic institute with enhanced capacity for providing short courses platforms to industry professionals. As earlier noted, Nigerian movies and film industry can be a veritable foreign exchange earner. Therefore, there is a need to drive the realization of the industry’s export capabilities by prospecting and opening new market opportunities. We shall in collaboration with industry functionaries, register Nigerian produced movies/film for exhibition at all rated international film festivals.
In addition, we shall collaborate with the organizers of the Nollywood Week to host the event across Europe and other target countries across the continent. This is to avail further exposure to our products globally. In Nigeria, there is a waiting opportunity to exploit the brand, Nollywood both for production purposes and the creation of a geographical Nollywood through the realisation of a physical Nollywood, a film village availing production houses of facilities and space. The village will be geared to provide an entertainment city, taking cognizance of our rich cultural diversity across the geopolitical zones of the country.
A major challenge to limited returns on investment in our industry is the activities of pirates. This has to be contained to enable collective prosperity. To this end, we shall engage and collaborate with the Nigeria Copyright Council (NCC) to ostracise this troubling demon that has continued to short circuit our well-being through legislation and technology.
To achieve all your dreams, you need to work with other government agencies. What kind collaborations are you looking at?
We cannot achieve these outlines above in isolation as a government agency. We shall welcome ideas from the private sector practitioners, film makers and creative giants in our literally and cultural sectors. We shall work with both state and local governments, universities and corporate investors to achieve above outlined mandates of Nigeria Film Corporation during this era of change. We shall expand and extend our frontiers of operation so that we can impact our nation and world and make the black race proud. In a world that is fiercely competitive and technology drive it will be my humble appeal to all staff to be and management to upgrade and step up in capacity building which will be very central and crucial to our envisaged success. It’s often said that every organization is as good as the quality of its manpower. Competence, relevant and skills and productivity shall be our watch word. We can only achieve our noble goals and the dreams of the Federal Government economic diversification agenda when improved manpower dominates the system.