It is Nigeria’s 61th independence anniversary and to some, it is a period of soul searching and stock taking as a citizen of a nation. Entertainers are not left out as they share their thoughts on the nation’s independence, creative industry and Nigeria of their dream. TONY OKUYEME and EDWIN USOBOH write
Paul Obazele: Is there a Nigeria? They have not treated our people as Nigerians; they have not treated the people they kill and massacre every time in Kaduna as Nigerians; they have not treated the people in the South East as Nigerians; they have not treated Nigerians as Nigerians.
So I ask a rhetorical question: Is there a Nigeria? I am not supposed to be asking you this question because I believe in the efficacy and the strength of this nation, Nigeria. I believe so much in it, but it becomes overwhelming when people who are supposed to be protecting lives and property, the citizens of this great nation, pay deaf ears and blind eyes to atrocities being committed, where it is easily reported that 14 people, 16 people or 30 people are killed, where soldiers are massacred anyhow, and nobody says anything; where police officers are killed every day. Just the other day, an Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) in Lagos State was picked up, and we are calling it breaking news.
So, I ask you: Is there a nation called Nigeria? A Nigeria that protected Africa one time. Is there a nation called Nigeria? A situation where a $100 is N56,000, a situation where we cannot readily tell that our youths can actually get employed, a situation where the youths that come out after Youth Service cannot get a job, a situation where a soldier leaves his house, goes out to protect lives, and he does not know if he is going to come back or not. Is there a nation called Nigeria? A situation where medical doctors are on the streets begging for their areers…, a situation where teachers are not paid, is there a Nigeria? I ask you, please help me answer.
A situation where the average reporter is gagged, and he is told that the moment reports anything it becomes hate speech. Is it a nation? Let the Red chamber and the Green Chamber answer that question. My hope is that we have an egalitarian society, where everybody is equal, where we can actually fly the green-white-green that God gave to us.
I do not care who serve the nation, but we have come together as one entity; we should respect the code that is holding us. We have the best of policies but we lack the zeal, and potentials to implement what we have. We all pay lipservice and eyeservice to our laws. There is no implementation. So, I ask you again, is there a Nigeria? My heart bleeds heavily everyday…
Two months ago, we had a country in this country called for employment, people they will draft out of this country, in Abuja. They moved medical doctors away from this country. It ended and nothing happened. So we have brain drain happening right now. Remember, once upon a time in this country, we had “Andrew wan check out”. Government moved in to stop Andrew from ‘checking out’, created better things for us. But today, the government does not bother if you leave or not.
Joke Silva: There is so much that is positive
There is so much that is positive that is happening, there is a lot of international recognition for an industry that created such a disruption, a disruption created about 30 years ago, and there was a flourishing. But it was a flourishing without structures. And now people are becoming more and more aware of the need for proper structures within the industry, to especially when it comes to film, because when I talk about an industry, I am talking about performing arts, be it film, theatre or music.
So, one is seeing a lot of international recognition for that industry, and grateful for that recognition, and grateful for the structures that are being put in place because of that recognition. Is there more to do? Definitely, we are an evolving nation, we are evolving. We are 61, there is a lot that we could have gotten right but that doesn’t mean it is the end of the world. Other nations have been through worse situation than we have been through, but they didn’t give up.
That’s what I want to stress; we cannot give up on our nation. We need to be conscious and intentional about making sure that this country,not only does it survive but that it thrives. And I think that’s what we should individually do. We cannot keep looking at leadership and thinking that leadership is only at the centre, it’s only the federal government. Everybody in your respective homes, as an adult you are a leader, in your respective businesses there are departments that you head. So head th with excellence. And then, I also want to give a note of caution, especially to politicians, adversarial politics is okay in climes where are institutions that safeguard their citizenry. Adversarial politics in our own climes should not be seen as a free for all, should not be handled with irresponsibility.
At the moment our politicians are being totally responsible and playing with the minds of the citizenry, knowing fully well that we are still a developing nation. So, they need to handle whatever their statements are going to be with some sense of not only decorum but also responsibility. They shouldn’t look at it as if they want to rule but they want to serve. So there is a cause to celebrate, there is also a cause to take stock. Let us celebrate the fact that we are alive, the fact that we are still one. But let us also take stock.
The country is still wobbling – Zaaki Azzay
61 years after independence, I think the country is still wobbling for now. It has not found its feet. The problem we’ve had with Nigeria as a country all these years is still the same problem we are having, which is leadership. Good leadership, that is the only way we can recover Nigeria. As long as we are not ready to sort our leadership problem we can move forward, because most Nigerians have already, for a long time been brainwashed by using religion, tribalism. So, Nigeria is still wobbling, it will take the grace of God for us to continue as a nation, it will take the grace of God as it is right now.
Well, I am in the mood of celebration because last Sunday I won a Lifetime Achievement Award. For the Entertainment Industry, it still comes back to government. The Entertainment industry is a great success, given what we have achieved so far without the help of the federal government, in terms of employment for the youths, in terms of success worldwide, with international recognition.
I think the entertainment industry has done so well, without government support. You can imagine what it will be with government support. The entertainment industry is the only industry that is capable of increasing the GDP of this country more than oil.
If only our greedy and selfish politicians will realise the importance of the entertainment industry and key into it, the issue of unemployment and unrest Ness and vexation among the Nigerian youths will be history. So, there is no cause to celebrate right now, I think we should put more attention in trying to deliver Nigeria from the that it is now. What are you celebrating? Except if the celebration will be centred on unity,I think that is the only kind of celebration I want to see now, not a political PDP or APC campaign, because everything now is turned into a political campaign. Instead of celebrating Nigerian independence it will become: ‘Who is here and who is there? Is it APC or PDP and so on… It shouldn’t be so.
Let’s be realistic, we don’t have any independence -Dede Mabiaku
Are we independent as a nation? How? Which independent do we have? Let’s be realistic, we don’t have any independence. We are still dependent. The economy is not independent; your social life is not independent; your productivity is not independent. Where is the independence? Is it 61 years of hallucination? That is not independence; that is the height of dependency or stupidity, wrong imagination without any iota of reality in the claim. Not one iota of reality in the claim. So let’s ditch that talk, there is no celebration any where..
The way forward is facing reality, start building the blocks that are necessary. You and I talking here today. If America sneezes, Nigeria will catch cold. If Britain sneezes, Nigeria will bend. Now it is worse. If China sneezes, Nigeria will beg. So, where are we going if we do not want to face the fact if we don’t start now to create the building blocks for the tenable for the future, we will remain in this hallucinatory position of claiming independence where there is none.
The entertainment industry is one of the industries making sensible headway, from this part of the world to the world at large. The music industry is striking hard, because every country you go to now, Nigerian music holds sway. So many years after his physical exit from here, the name Fela Anikulapo Kuti reigns supreme all over the world musically, with all respect you can ever imagine. Nollywood has become the mainstay in not just African countries but all over the world.
Jimi Solanke: I pray for Nigeria What a country?
What a country? Celebrating over what? Look at my small corner, one beautiful corner of Nigeria, my home town, and I pray for Nigeria to retain its glory, to continue its position as the ‘giant of Africa’. And that a lot of people who are ready to unleash terror on Nigeria should be taken care of by God Almighty. Amen.
Gbenga Adeyinka: Nigeria has done enough
Nigeria is a home of talent and talented people, we might not have gotten to the promise land, but in 61 years Nigeria has done enough to rank among the best in the world and I believe at 61 the entertainment industry deserves all the kudos it has gotten. But we can still do more to move forward, remuneration, intellectual properties compensation wise, but in all Nigeria @ 61 I will say kudos.
Helen Paul: We still have a long way to go
We are not where we used to be some decades ago, but we definitely still have a long way to go. We are talking about 61 not 10, a man of 61 years old should be able to take stock, because he doesn’t have much time left again. Yes, we have improved in many areas, but we still need improvements in all sectors not just entertainment. As an actress and comedian my greatest aspiration is that Nigerian cinema in the next 60 years will carry deeper stories, education, consciousness, and a transformative vision for the Nation and that it becomes, more than an industry or an economic sector, a pillar of our renaissance, our beauty, and our greatness.
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