By Chris Ndibe
The Federal Government says it is reforming and commercialising the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) to address the agency’s teething challenges and reposition it for improved performance.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made this known on Monday in Abuja while inaugurating a Steering Committee for the Reform and Commercialisation of the Corporation.
He said the federal government has engaged the services of a Business Development Consultant to conduct a due diligence on the corporation and sector and recommend a strategy that is suitable for its reform and commercialisation.
Mohammed said the NFC, which was established with a mandate to plan, promote, organise and co-ordinate the development of the Nigerian motion picture industry, has not been able to meet up with its statutory functions.
He noted that since its establishment, the Corporation has faced several challenges including inability to engage in commercial film production.
The minister said the law establishing NFC limits its operational functions such that it cannot leverage on the private sector-led growth of the industry.
He added that the National Film Institute (NFI), a unit in NFC, is not empowered to leverage its technical and professional capabilities for commercial purposes and revenue generation.
Mohammed said the NFC’s civil service structure comes with bureaucratic limitations, budgetary constraints and operational inefficiency.
“A critical look at the existing organizational structure shows that NFC is over-bloated and needs to be restructured to reflect its purpose.
“NFC has obsolete equipment, with some dating back to colonial times,” he said.
The minister noted that the reform of the corporation will help in the efforts of the government to reposition the nation’s film industry, Nollywood, and make Nigeria the capital of entertainment in Africa.
Relying on International Monetary Fund data, Mohammed said Nollywood is the second largest employer of Labour and contributed N893 billion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015.
The minister noted that Nollywood could perform better if the NFC is restructured and needed infrastructure enabling environment are provided.
He noted that apart from wealth and employment creation, promoting film industry would help to build inclusion and reduce social tension.
Earlier, Mr Alex Okoh, the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), said with the tremendous potentials of the film industry to reposition the nation’s economy, the government needed to play a prominent role.
Okoh said that the government is reforming the NFC to take the leading role in harnessing the potentials in the sector.
He, however, clarified that the reform process “is not a privatisation of the corporation but the commercialization of this important enterprise and agency of government”.
“The clarification is that in this reform process, there is no transfer of ownership, no sale of shares and no privatization of the entity.
“It is basically to ensure the resident value of the enterprise and its commercial viability,” he said.
He said the steering committee being chaired by the minister would consider and approve the recommendations submitted by the project delivery team for the commercialisation of the corporation.
Other members of the steering committee inaugurated by the minister are, Okoh, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs Grace Gekpe and the Managing Director of NFC, Chidia Maduekwe.
The Director Information and Communication of BPE, Dikko Mohammed, will serve as the Secretary to the committee.
NFC, established by Decree No. 61 of 1979 and is 100 per cent owned by the Federal Government and has its registered office in Jos, Plateau State.
It is established to distribute documentary films on different aspects of Nigeria’s socio-cultural and political life and provide film services for the Federal Government.
The corporation is to train young talented Nigerians in the art of film making, conducting research into Nigerian films and provide technical and financial support to film Industry and practitioners.
NFC is also established to regulate and organise professional practice in the film industry.