I am with Lai Mohammed

By Simbo Olorunfemi

“…if a product you want to advertise in Nigeria territory is made in Nigeria, grown in Nigeria or processed in Nigeria, then you must make sure that the advert is also produced in Nigeria”
– Lai Mohammed

I could never have guessed that we will be back at this again. How can something so simple and straightforward become so complicated?

How can you generate income in Nigeria, take the money abroad to go lubricate the creative industry there in the name of generating a creative product you are bringing back home for local consumption? Not that we do not have local capacity, but for sundry other reasons, you ship jobs abroad and you want us, local creatives and government to clap for you?

I am fully with the Minister on this. In any case, he was only restating that which is already in the NBC Broadcasting Code. It is not even that you can’t go to Jupiter to produce, it is that you have to pay a fine at the point of transmission.

Some say this runs contrary to the spirit of free market. Tell me one country in the world which throws its creative space open for all sorts, one that does not protect the local creative space from foreign influence, pollution, encroachment and dumping. We made this point back then with the shooting of Big Brother Brother Nigeria from South Africa, a most ridiculous thing.

The reason we have government is to design policies such as this to protect local industry. People talk about a ‘thriving’ Nollywood and local music industry today, claiming government didn’t do anything. Not true. Government hasn’t done enough to support local creative economy. But it was deliberate public policy that forced local Broadcasting Stations to take on local music, movies and programmes.

Our local stations, at a time, were insistent on mainly foreign music, drama and all sorts at the detriment of the local industry. Public policy forced a change and now local music, movies dominate.

That is what public policy does. Back then, TV Commercials were simply handed down to us, foreign concepts, foreign faces. Public policy forced the hands of advertisers and advertising agencies into an the adoption of local faces for TV Commercials. That is what public policy does.

Back then, Banks were reluctant to go to rural areas. Public policy from CBN forced Banks to go rural. Same with lending to particular sectors, especially SME. Public policy had to take the lead. Time our Broadband policy, if it does not already provide for such, deliberately provides for ringing around our rural communities. Government has to partner with private sector players to deliver that.

Left to the dictates of capitalism, operators will not step out of their comfort zones. It is the way it is all over the world. The market is only free to the extent that it furthers local and national interest. That is why Trump’s America First struck a chord with millions.

This idea that we should leave our doors open to all sorts in the name of free market is a strange one. It is not in practice anywhere. If you prefer to produce abroad, you must be prepared to pay a tariff to bring in your luxury product. What is there in a TV Commercial that we have to go abroad to shoot?

I am with the Minister on this – “Gulder is made, processed in Nigeria. If you go to South Africa to produce an advert which you are going to air to Nigerians because Nigerians consume Gulder, what we have amended the code to say is that for every time that advert is aired in Nigeria either on radio or television, you pay a fine of N100,000. We are not stopping you from making your production in America or South Africa but if you are going to advertise in Nigerian territory, you will pay a fine of N100,000.”

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