President Goodluck Jonathan was yesterday decorated as Grand Patriarch of Nollywood for supporting the industry where over 200 people have been trained with 76 film producers accessing grants for projects.
They said television stations’ penchant for cheap Mexican soap operas and other foreign films was borne out of greed and attempt to kill the industry and erase jobs.
This is even as President Jonathan described actors and actresses as the greatest ambassadors of the country. He said before now, Nigerian football teams, especially the Super Eagles, were the ones bringing glory to the nation, but of late the team had been fumbling, but the Nollywood stars have remained consistent in their craft and bringing glory to the nation.
Jonathan stated this when the Legends of Nollywood, led by Mr. Paul Obazele and Zack Orji, took a delegation to the Presidential Villa, Abuja when Jonathan was decorated with the award.
He said, “there are so many good stories about you (Nollywood stars). For us who by divine providence and your own will, made us to be here this time, you are our pride, you are our stars.
“In fact, you are the greatest ambassadors of this country. This is because the Nollywood family has really helped to bring good image to this country.
“Before now, we were known for soccer. After some time, we started fumbling. Today, we are on top, the next day, we are down. Since Nollywood came on board, you have been quite steady and you have been bringing good image to this country,” he said.
The President likened the Nollywood success to the biblical story of creation where God made a pronouncement that there should be light and there was light. He said the industry was created from a humble beginning when people did not expect any spectacular thing to a very formidable body, being the second in the world.
President Jonathan expressed delight that the commercials of the industry have now become integral party of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The President said he remained committed to giving government support to the industry. While describing the award plaque given to him as precious, he said it would be one of the items in the Presidential Museum he would establish after leaving office.
Earlier, Obazele said the group gave Jonathan the award because of the support he had been giving the industry since his days as deputy governor of Bayelsa State.
He said no Nigerian president has ever given the motion industry such support, adding that by his actions and support, he has walked the talk, leading to great dividends for the sector.
“No government has shown special interest in our industry like yours,” he said.
Obazele said: “Mr. President as we induct you in to the Nollywood Hall of Fame, we want to draw your attention to the fact that things have gone from bad to worst in the motion picture in the country most especially the television stations.
“I make bold to say that television no longer excites unlike the days of old when we had locally produced great soap operas like Village Headmaster, After the Sun, Mirror in the Sun, Basi and company, our television stations have sacrificed this great programme on the altar of greed. Most of our television stations now pay more attention to foreign soap operas and contents than they pay to locally produced programmes. They prefer to buy cheap Maxican soap operas instead of commissioning local programmes or local contents. Even when they pretend to buy local programmes, they either acquire these local projects at a ridiculous amount and they charge exorbitant airtime that independent producers find it difficult to cope.
“We call for the faithful implemention of the various broadcast codes that enables television and cable stations to commission programmes or scout for very good programmes that can showcase on their stations. We believe that way they will be encouraging the development and the growth of the industry and contributing to employment generation”, he said.