SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, AT THE CLOSING AND AWARD NITE CEREMONY OF THE 12TH EDITION OF THE ZUMA FILM FESTIVAL AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE, ABUJA: ON SATURDAY 7TH MAY, 2022.
1. It is indeed my pleasure to be here at the closing/Award Night Ceremony of the annual Zuma Film Festival. I want to most sincerely congratulate the organizers of this event, while also paying tribute to the creative giants whose hard work, ingenuity and persistence have firmly put Nigeria on the global entertainment and cinema map. I can boldly state that today, the Nigerian film industry is now the most important platform for showcasing Nigerian arts and culture to the world.
2. It is therefore fitting that the Zuma Film Festival has not just been revived but has grown steadily, since the assumption of office of this Administration. Today, we have witnessed another watershed. Abuja is now designated the official host city of Zuma Film Festival, in line with global best practices.
3. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, as we celebrate the astronomical growth of our film industry, we must also critically examine whether the creative minds behind this phenomenal growth have reaped the benefits of their hard work. This is why I am delighted with the theme of this year’s festival, which is ‘Show The Money’. I do hope this year’s film festival has shown filmmakers how they can exploit new platforms, not only to see the money, but also to touch and keep it through the increased profitability and global reach of their films.
4. The trajectory of the Nigerian Film industry has been 9of great concern for us in this government, and this explains the series of actions we have taken to bolster the industry. I will just touch on a few of such actions:
A) I led a team to the Central Bank of Nigeria to make a case for single digit financing, and this has resulted in the Creative Industry Financing initiative by the banks and CBN.
B) We have also continuously made it clear to the international streaming companies that they must increase their local investment, including opening offices and increasing the local content on their platforms, if they wish to do business in Nigeria.
C) in the wake of Covid, we have come up with a comprehensive report and have made such available to development banks like Afreximbank, Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), etc, so they can better understand the sector and invest in Distribution and Production companies.
(D) In order to boost the exhibition revenues of the film industry, we have partnered with the CBN and the Bankers Committee on the renovation of the National Theatre at a cost of $100 million. This is important because the iconic National Theatre was conceived as the hub of the Creative industry in Nigeria. Its renovation and the addition of four new hubs, including an international film production facility that covers production and post-production, will signify the restoration of the power of the industry and its preparation to play its huge role for Nigeria into the future.
5. Please permit me to round off by congratulating all the award winners in the various competitive categories. I hope this will spur you to greater heights and achievements in your professional career.
6. I also congratulate the life time achievement recipients. This award shows that this industry still remembers and appreciates those who laid the foundation for what has now emerged as one of the largest and recognizable brands in the world today.
7. Finally, I want to appreciate the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) for its collaboration with the Nigerian Film Corporation, and for its enormous support for the Zuma Film Festival. It is my hope that preparations for next year’s film festival will commence in earnest, so that we can build on the successes recorded at this year event, with a view to making the city of Abuja a bright spot in the global film festival calendar.
8. I thank you all for your kind attention