The Society of Nigerian Theatre Artists (SONTA), the umbrella body of theatre scholars in Nigeria, has told Federal Government to provide the enabling environment and equipment for technical aspects of film production in order to make an impact on the rising profile of film industry in Nigeria.

This call is coming as efforts are being made to bring the Film industry and Theatre for Development (TfD) together for a meaningful development in Nigeria.

The National President of SONTA, Professor Emmanuel Dandaura, who stated this at the opening ceremony of the 24th SONTA Annual Conference in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, said that to achieve this, the government needs to set up Centres for Excellence in the six geo-political zones of the country and tackle the problem of power generation, adding that the centres will be equipped with modern film production facilities.

Professor Dandaura noted that the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, has registered a remarkable impact and cannot be neglected in the efforts at promoting Nigerian culture: “The truth is that Nollywood has contributed to the growth of Nigerian culture and economy. They should be given attention by the government. It has been managed by individuals and their activities are germane to the existence of Nigeria. It is on this ground I call on the Government to aid them in those areas that are capital intensive. The area of technical production needs equipment that individuals cannot afford. Government can provide this by building Centres for Excellence in the six geo-political zones. Then, experts in that area will manage them and train others. You can agree with me that the issue in Nollywood now is poor productions. But if a place to train those who handle the technical aspects is made available, there will be improvement. In terms of power, the moment it is tackled, then an enabling environment has been provided. This will help the film industry to join force with the theatre to development the country.”

The Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Professor Abdullahi Mustapha, in his speech, commended SONTA for the initiative of bringing film and TfD together in a conference, informing that the Department of Theatre and Performing Arts of the University started TfD in Nigeria.

He said: “TfD and film, especially Nollywood, are coming together for a dialogue. This is the first of its kind in Nigeria. I am happy that it is taking place in ABU. This is because TfD started in ABU. I welcome Michael Etherton, who came to this University in 1975, to establish Drama, for coming back to witness that the seed he sowed 34 years ago, is blossoming to this national and international level. I commend SONTA for the international level they are taking Nigerian theatre practice. I am also happy that University of Leeds is famous with African scholars, hence the presence of Professor Jane Plastow here. I commend those, who are making the film practice meaningful in Nigeria, and are present here.”

The event, which took place at the Assembly Hall of the Senate Building of ABU, had interesting lead paper presentations on TfD by Michael Etherton and on Nollywood by Professor Onookome Okome, a renowned film scholar from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

The theme of the Conference is “Nollywood and Theatre for Development (TfD): Exploring the Bridges of Interaction,” and the Executive Secretary of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation, Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, is expected to present a paper on “Nollywood and Cultural Development: Milestones and Prospects for a Journey of the Future.”

For the first time, abstracts of papers by some members of staff of NICO have been accepted and the papers are billed to be presented at the conference, which is indicative of the setting of standards by the present leadership of the Institute. The papers are “Soyinka’s Theatre of Revolution: A Political Lesson for Nollywood” by Dr. Dipo Kalejaiye, “Nollywood: Has it Represented, Promoted, Propagated, and Developed Nigerian Culture” by Mr. Law Ikay Ezeh, and “Towards Theatre Criticism of Nigerian Film: A Study of Barclays Ayakoroma’s Nollywood Critical Standpoint” by Mr. Nwagbo Nnenyelike.

The conference lasts from 15th to 18th, November, 2011.

Nwagbo Nnenyelike
Corporate Affairs