Fashola, Nollywood and ritual killings

| February 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

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Onoshe Nwabuikwu
sms: 08099400229, [email protected]

The occasion was a public lecture organised by the United Action for Change, and it was the fourth edition of the annual event. The theme was, ‘Security of citizens as a social contract’. It’s not clear why the preferred guest speaker was the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola. Why is a minister of works and housing speaking about security? Is it because he has been so effective at his real job? Even if Fashola were in charge of Nigeria’s security, what kind of insensitivity or tone-deafness makes a supposed leader single out a critical segment of the country for blame on something as fundamental as kidnapping and ritual killing?

Fashola reportedly said, “Some people believe that if you get a man’s head or a woman’s body parts, they could be turned into money. It’s not true…However, it has become a reinforced belief through entertainment, social media and Nollywood…Therefore, all of us, including those who make the films, must reverse the story and start selling a new story that money is printed in a machine and not through any other way like money rituals.”

What does Fashola think Nollywood is? Nollywood is the world’s third (sometimes second) largest producer of movies. Even if you don’t care about this ranking, you should know that in 2014, when Nigeria’s economy was rebased (or reassessed), Nollywood reportedly contributed over $6bn to the GDP, more than double the country’s economy. Nollywood employs thousands of people, to put it modestly. More serious countries are looking for ways to promote their film/entertainment industries. In the same month that a South Korean film, Parasite (Boon Jong-ho), made history by being the first non-English film to win the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Fashola preferred to rubbish Nollywood.

This is beginning to look like a pattern– everyone takes jabs at Nollywood, for reasons still unclear. Doesn’t government have a responsibility to keep her citizens secure, regardless of what movies depict? Should a government representative denigrate an industry that is creating jobs for thousands of people? The Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Chris Ngige, also once reportedly advised young people not to look to the government for jobs but to embrace creative skills. Between Ngige and Fashola, there have been a few misdirected utterances. Sometimes, these people in government appear to be competing to win ‘Who Can Say the Most Outrageous Thing’ competition. Remember when Ngige said he was not worried about medical doctors leaving Nigeria because we had surplus doctors? By the way, we have 2.27 doctors for every 10,000 people while the World Health Organisation, while not prescribing, would recommend 10 doctors per 10,000 people. Not that we need anyone to tell us there aren’t sufficient doctors in Nigeria.

Fashola appears to be working very hard to be heard. The last time he was in the news was when he implied that, contrary to people’s complaints, over 80 per cent of Nigerian roads were in good condition, or words to that effect.

So, who is Fashola? He went into the Buhari government as an MVP, having served two terms as Lagos State governor and was widely hailed for his performance. He was then saddled with three huge ministries– Power, Works and Housing. For his ‘efforts’, he was nicknamed minister of darkness. That’s how effective Fashola was as a minister in Buhari’s first term.

Meanwhile, before he became minister, Fashola was quite vocal, proffering unsolicited advice. From the economy to electricity, Fashola had all the answers. Then, he got a chance to implement his brilliant ideas. Five years later, with the title of MOD, he is now holding Nollywood responsible for the insecurity the government appears incapable of tackling. What’s next? Blame a particular tribe or profession? Speaking of which, kidnapping, especially for money rituals, was in existence before the emergence of Nollywood. As a child, I remember being afraid each festive period because parents usually warned us about ‘gbomo gbomo.’ In my village, Lampese (Edo State), we didn’t have television or electricity for that matter. Why do government appointees think they can get off talking down on fellow citizens; people whose taxes pay their salaries? Just because they play to an audience of one or three (if you believe in the ‘cabal-isation’ of Nigeria).

Questions for Fashola– Is Nollywood responsible for Boko Haram? Was it Nollywood that made Nigeria the poverty capital of the world? Was it Nollywood that convinced the US to ban Nigerians from getting its immigration visas? Was it because of Nollywood he couldn’t succeed as Minister of Power? Or did Nollywood stop Fashola from resolving the power conundrum he’d said any serious government could solve in six months? Anyway, what’s the percentage of Nollywood films that deal with kidnapping/money rituals? And when last did the honourable minister watch a Nollywood film?

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Category: Entertainment