*Moves To Unlock N15tr Economy
Pretty Okafor, a veteran musician and member of the popular pioneer Naija Hip-hop rap duo- ‘Junior & Pretty’, is the current President of The Performing Musician’s Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN). The quiet, unassuming but resourceful musician turned entrepreneur, recently shared his thoughts on a few issues affecting the nation, PMAN, the creative industry and more.
On The Economy And The Current Recession
We said it over two years ago that Nigeria was going into recession, but we had no business doing so because we have vibrant entertainment and creative industries. The solution is the fast-tracking of structured organized entertainment and creative industries. One that is organized, transformed and monetized into a creative economy like it is done in developed countries. It’s not new, neither is it rocket science, studies show that globally creative and cultural industries are unaffected by the global financial crisis and they are acknowledged worldwide as having enormous potentials as engines driving economic and social development.
In the UK, the creative economy contributes about 84.1 billion Pounds Sterling to the economy, which is about 10 million Pounds per hour! In the US the value of the arts to the country’s GDP is about $700 billion. It shows that this sector is contributing immensely to their various countries’ economies.
Nigeria too can’t afford to be left behind, and from research, has the potential to contribute about N15 trillion to the nation’s GDP. Nigeria’s entertainment and creative industries, more than any other sector, now can contribute to the reflation of our economy. As number one in Africa and number three globally, the digitalization of the entire creative industry helps unlock the revenues inherent there, allows governments take their share of taxes and reflate the economy.
Only the creative economy can provide oil-like revenues like it does abroad to address our current situation. This corroborates the statement made by the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who said entertainment can get us out of recession, and it’s also in tandem with Vice President Professor Osibajo’s position on diversifying the economy. Even recently, His Excellency the Executive governor of Lagos state Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, stated that creativity must be explored to get Nigeria out of recession and his government is looking into same.
As a matter of priority, the Federal Government has to give adequate attention, investment and focus to the entertainment and creative sectors. It has to support the launch of the Nigerian creative industry through legislation, pronouncement, regulation and enforcement. Their input is important.
PMAN is already in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to develop the sector and curb piracy. This partnership must be taken to the next level as a matter of economic urgency. The partnership will help government unlock the value in the creative sector and boost revenue generation for Nigeria.
On The G-Create.Ng
G-Create.ng is the structure and application that is being used to transform the entire creative industry into the creative economy with government support and backing. It is the digitalization of the creative industry. It will provide the requisite data for the entire industry and allow investors to track their return on investment (ROI) amongst other things. It also has other benefits accessible through a combo card called the PMAN biometric ID card. The benefits include medical insurance for a subscriber and four family members; life insurance that provides the next of kin of subscriber members N5 million in the event of death; Pension plan that pays subscribers N100,000 monthly; allows barcoding and encoding of creative works physically and electronically respectively; royalty monitoring and collection and many more benefits.
The G-Create.ng structure can monitor and track all the IP work coming out of Nigeria. This automatically reduces the piracy menace in Nigeria considerably. Technology, digitalization and smart networks are going to be deployed to tackle piracy.
On the other hand, piracy should be seen as economic sabotage and a crime that allows government to lose close to N10 trillion annually- a huge leakage that must be blocked. A special enforcement unit as is done for drug trafficking and manufacturing like NDLEA (the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency) and NAFDAC (National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Country) must be set up and given the powers of enforcement. Piracy must be seen as an economic crime, called same and dealt with as same through government policy pronouncements and legislation.
On PMAN, Factions, The Legitimacy Or Otherwise Of His Exco’s Election
We were brought in through a court judgement as interim executives by Honorable Justice AO Abang of the Federal High Court to administer the affairs of the union and conduct credible elections in 18 months, according to the PMAN constitution. We fulfilled all the constitutional requirements to the letter for the first time in 16 years. In that period we held three National Executive Council (NEC) meetings with delegates from states all over the federation. After organizing and holding general national elections within the stipulated time with delegates also present, calls were made to all and sundry to contest. We had to hold the election in the early hours of the morning because we got wind that some disgruntled elements were about to cause trouble and disrupt the elections violently. We had to avoid such a scene.
I emerged substantive president after the election as a few of the people contesting with me stepped down. Of a truth, I had initially refused to contest because of all the challenges I had encountered in trying to reorganize the union but many people, groups and organizations impressed it on me to contest and finish the work of the creative economy project we initiated as interim president, otherwise the process would be truncated and a great deal lost. I had a rethink and acceded to this request. After the election there were attempts to restrain us from calling ourselves as the legitimate PMAN officials but Honourable Justice B.B. Kanyip of the Industrial Court, Lagos dismissed the application for lack of merit and evidence, because there is nowhere in the Trade Union Act that a Minister can inaugurate a Caretaker Committee. That current ruling still makes us the only legitimately elected and recognized PMAN executives.
There is no faction in PMAN only the activities of a few disgruntled elements whose actions want to stall the current efforts for economic recovery. This thing is bigger than any individual or group. Their plan is to commandeer something that they were not part of creating and are not capable of managing. Something that when fully implemented shortly has the potential to fully impact Nigeria’s economy positively. Their action is also an act of economic sabotage and they must be sanctioned. My present exco and I are focused and forging ahead to make the realization of the welfare of the creative industry practitioner and make the creative economy a reality. We won’t be distracted and deterred. These disgruntled elements still want to go about cap in hand from one organization to the other begging for funds. That era is over.
Our industry can sustain itself and the economy and we are committed to making sure this happens. These elements converted and sold PMAN land in Abuja illegally, sold the PMAN national secretariat in Lagos and all that was in it. Without sounding antagonistic they have nothing to offer. In spite of all this we have reached out to them on several occasions and stretched out the olive branch to them trying to get them to understand that it is not business as usual and what we are doing will accommodate them adequately. But, they are unrepentant. They simply want to destroy same. They want to truncate the launch of our economic recovery programme through the G-CREATE.ng and set us back many years. They have made several attempts on my life and family and even some members of my exco but we are still unresolved and undeterred to ensure the N15 trillion Nigerian creative economy comes on stream.
On Creativity And The Nigerian Creative Industry
When we talk about creativity we are talking about one’s intellectual property and heaven’s resources bestowed on individuals to be successful. We are talking about one’s natural gifts and talents. In Nigeria what we have in abundance is creativity. That’s why we are number one in Africa and number three in the world. We would soon be number one globally, because of our abundance and level of creativity. There is creativity in every home, every state and tribe in Nigeria. In every home there is a creative person. Creativity is a major resource and should be seen as such. Nigeria’s creativity is what is now going to put us on the world map and it is already doing so but must be structured and organized. The other industries take a long process to yield results; in the creative industry it is almost instant. Creativity is really not seasonal or geographically located. Creativity is on the upsurge. Nigeria’s fortunes will soon be turned around again, because of our creativity.