Despite opposition, Lai Mohammed inaugurates MOPPICON review committee

Lai Mohammed (right) and Mahmood Ali-Balogun

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Tuesday brushed aside protest by a section to the Nigerian film industry to formally inaugurate the review committee of the Motion Picture Practitioners Council of Nigeria (MOPPICON).

The inauguration, which took place at the National Theatre, Lagos, is part of efforts designed to fast track the passage into law of the MOPPICON bill.

Inaugurating the 29-member committee at a ceremony in Lagos, the Minister said contrary to insinuations that the government is setting up the Council in order to control the movie industry, the government’s effort is to enable Nollywood play a meaningful role in national development.

“One of the ways we think we can tackle frontally the many challenges militating against professional and career fulfilment in the movie industry is to have a central body we can always refer to in decisions aimed at improving and modernizing the motion picture industry.

“Also, government’s interest in the setting up of MOPPICON is driven by the fact that we at the supervising ministry need to work with a formidable representative group that is empanelled to lobby for the growth, development and welfare of the industry and its practitioners as well as make for a better organized and more visible and vibrant Nollywood industry. We have no hidden agenda and we will not be part of anything that will stifle the growth of the burgeoning industry,” he said.

Mohammed charged the committee, which is headed by Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) creator, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, to build on past efforts, dating back to the early 1990s, when Nigerian Motion picture practitioners under various bodies craved for the Council to engender sustainable growth of the industry based on best practices as well as practitioner’s protection and structured membership.

“One of the best efforts in this regard was the setting up of the first Steering Committee for the Practitioners Council on April 4th 2005. The 17-member Committee, headed by Chief Tunde Oloyede, did a comprehensive work and submitted its report to the Federal Government in Nov. 2006. This was followed by the setting up, in April 2015, of an Advisory Interim Council to commence activities leading to the actualization of the take-off of MOPPICON. Unfortunately, paucity of funds prevented the inauguration of the Interim Council.

“We are not here to reinvent the wheel but to build on the good efforts of those who toiled hard in the past to set up MOPPICON,” he said.

The minister solicited the support of the stakeholders to enable him achieve his plans for the industry, which include a stepped-up battle against piracy, the establishment of the National Endowment for the Arts and the need to reverse the lack of policy direction in the movie industry.

He gave the committee, which comprises representatives of the various guilds and associations, as well as the Nigerian Film Corporation, Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board, the Ministry of Information and Culture as well as Nigeria Copyright Commission, three weeks to conclude its assignment and submit its report.

A section of Nollywood, predominantly made up of younger filmmakers, insists MOPPICON is a ploy by government to interfere with and muzzle the creative sector.

Tango with Me producer, Mahmood Alli-Balogun, is the deputy coordinator of the committee.