Paul Obazele is President Edo Filmmakers Association of Nigeria(EFAN). A reputable actor of so many years and filmmaker, Obazele bares his mind on why he feels that lawmakers and government officials are involved in piracy, and way out of the impasse in AGN. Excerpts.
The Presidency seems to have began the process of releasing the N3 billion it promised for the development of Nollywood, what are you doing to take advantage of this opportunity?
I will benefit, Royal Pictures is there, Royal Pictures is a production company, it will tap into it, we have the Edo Filmmakers Association of Nigeria(EFAN), it is going to tap in. The reason I am so out of service is for us for us to strengthen Nollywood as it were, bringing out the experience we had to guide the younger ones that are there. Thank God that by the time the N3 billion came and some group of people thought they could hijack it, Association of Movie Producers(AMP) and Nollywood monitors cried fowl that led to a town hall meeting, because we did petition to that effect. Thank God that they are reasoning with us on that and they now see how everybody can benefit if not it would have gotten into the pocket of some very greedy Shylocks among us. I Thank God that the President is responding to Nollywood but I just hope again that people that are mandated to look after this will not mess up Nollywood as it were. I hope they will have the fear of God to be transparent enough to be able to use this to affect and effect changes in Nollywood.
It should be an avenue where we will see how we could generate employment and improve our standard viz a viz film production and bring out the vibrancy that Nollywood is known for and still sit on our position as the second largest filmmaker and see how we could up it to second best filmmaker. But the truth is the young talented actors, producers and directors should be given the opportunity to express what their artistry is all about. Nollywood will pick up but again if government is sincere with us in the quest to fight piracy it would have made it a better place. But unfortunately government is not interested in fighting piracy, they claim they are but I say it to their faces that if they are not involved in piracy why have they not prosecuted and jailed somebody. You find out that most of the lawmakers are involved in this, either their wives or they have companies that are doing such things or company that are doing replication or directly involved in piracy; so you now see a situation where you keep shouting and nobody is listening to you.
But have you practitioners made representations to the lawmakers by way of bills to control this menace ?
Severally, we have gone severally, you want to tell me that the senators do not hear about this. Must I do a bill for them to know that a product, a proudly made in Nigeria product is dying, a product that brought out the beauty of this nation, a product that took us away from the dungeon as a country that is painted for drugs, for 419, nobody was ready to buy us for just N5, and we were able to showcase the beauty of this nation to the world, we told them how rich we are culturally, we are able to make people relax at home. The senators will want to say they don’t know all that. Don’t they buy our films and take it abroad to give it out as dash. I don’t need to write anything for a bill, they are supposed to protect me as lawmakers, what have they done, sit down there and receive over N30 million. Do you know that the average senator and the House of Reps members are today the highest paid in the world?
Election into the Lagos State chapter of AGN has thrown the association into crisis, What is you view on the matter?
I am totally disappointed in what is happening in AGN. I am wondering where the former presidents that ruled AGN are. I wonder what they are doing, why they are not calling people to order. It baffles me, it beats my imagination that it will stretch to this extent. Whether we like it or not brothers and sisters must quarrel, and an ‘agba’ around will call them to order. Where are the agbas in that place, were are they?
So what do you think is responsible for this silent?
May be somebody is giving somebody money somewhere, somebody is living fat on somebody somewhere, that is why they are all silent. It is very painful that you see a group of young people that are supposed to be directing their energies towards films are talking about politics.
It is very unfortunate
Very, very unfortunate, that a situation where you see us who are supposed to be mirrors of the society, we hijack ballot boxes, what do you expect us to tell the politicians. Then tomorrow somebody is complaining that somebody carried a mace to break somebody’s head, when he saw it in AGN
So how do we get out of this problem?
Let them go back to the round table, they can solve this problem, they can actually solve this problem. There is a president that is elected, she is the mother of everybody, bring your children to the roundtable and listen to them, she should not take side; she should sit down and listen to them. Listen when two people are quarreling when you keep bottling them up the y will explode. The moment they say what the problem is, 50 percent of the problem is solved because they have vented their anger, let them talk, sit with them, nobody is going to kill her.
Is that possible. given the current situation where we have two chairman, Victor Osuagu whom the BOT want and Don Pedro Aganbi whom the actors want?, they are all ruling in their own rights?
You said the actors want one, and the BOT want one? If these people are voted into power by the people, I think we are practicing democracy, you do not force things on people, let the choice of the people reign.