Okoroji Cautions Against Using PMAN To Contrive Dispute.

Few weeks after the Creative Industry Financing Conference hosted by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, the Federal Government has granted ‘Pioneer Status’ to the Creative Industry in a landmark move aimed at transforming the industry to a creative economy and creating jobs.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the decision to grant the industry ‘Pioneer Status’ is in fulfillment of the promise made by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, represented by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, at the opening of conference held at the Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The ‘Pioneer Status’ is granted to companies making investments in qualifying industries and products as tax holiday from the payment of corporate income tax and withholding tax on dividend from pioneer profits for an initial period of three years, extendable for one or two additional years. This covers music production, publishing and distribution (including online digital distribution); photography; production and post- production of digital content for motion pictures, videos, television programmes, commercials, distribution and exhibition (digital movies, animation, videos, tv programmes and commercials); publishing of books (copyrighted books) and development and Publishing of ready-made software (operating systems, software applications and computer games).

‘’This is a shot in the arm for the Creative Industry, and it will definitely catalyze investments in the industry. It is also the answer to our quest to spur the establishment of world-class studios in Nigeria for production and post-production of movies and music videos,’’ the Minister said.

He said the need to grant ‘Pioneer Status’ to the Creative Industry, as well as tackle the piracy of creative works were among the key issues raised by participants at the Creative Industry Financing Conference.

‘’It is a measure of the increasing importance attached to the industry by the Federal Government that these issues are now being handled with utmost urgency. First, the ‘Pioneer Status’ has been granted within three weeks of the conclusion of the conference. Secondly, an Anti-Piracy Committee, comprising representatives of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, industry stakeholders and the police, has been set up to work out the modality for tackling piracy in a lasting and sustainable manner,’’ Alhaji Mohammed said.

He thanked the stakeholders in the Creative Industry for supporting the Federal Government in its efforts that have succeeded in putting the industry in the front burner of the economy and made it a key plank of the government’s economic diversification policy.

‘’We are determined to do more for the Creative Industry in order to allow the creative talents of our youths to blossom, create massive jobs and position Nigeria as a global hub for the industry,’’ the
Minister said.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of COSON Chief Tony Okoroji has expressed dissatisfaction over an attempt by some individuals under the umbrella of PMAN to discredit the recently held Creative Industry Summit on the basis that they were not officially invited.

“On the 17 and 18 of July, I attended the Creative Industry Summit held at the Expo Hall of Eko Hotel & Suites, Lagos. No one sent me a special invitation to the summit. I have always been interested in any serious conversation that can bring progress to the Nigerian creative sector. I therefore went to www.creativenigeria.org, the heavily advertised website of the summit, to register, cancelled previous engagements and attended the summit on both days and I was happy I did. To the best of my knowledge, most of the stakeholders, who thronged the venue on both days of the summit registered on line like me and no one who showed up was turned back,” he said.

Okoroji explained that he was in no way involved in the organisation of the summit, neither was he listed as a speaker. However, he enjoyed listening to the recommendations made by speaker after speaker to addressing the nation’s challenges in developing a truly vibrant creative sector.

“Having organised similar events in the past, I could not but appreciate the effort made to put together such a successful event. At the end, I sought out Ms Taiwo Olukunle of Think Tank Media whom I was told developed the idea for the summit and executed it. I was meeting Ms Olukunle for the first time and I commended her for what I thought was a very professional job.”

Apart from the Honourable Minister of Information & Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who sat through every minute of the two-day summit and vigorously engaged the stakeholders to understand their challenges, the summit was also attended by the Honourable Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, who represented the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. Also present was the Minister of State for Industry, Trade & Investment, Mrs Aisha Abubakar.

“In my many years of actively fighting endless wars on behalf of the creative industry, I do not believe that I have ever witnessed such top level of engagement with the Nigerian creative community by any government. I was at the summit when the hundreds of creative industry stakeholders sensing a shift in our engagement with the Nigerian government gave a standing ovation to Minister Lai Mohammed, who sat for nine unbroken hours for two consecutive days discussing the problems of musicians, film makers, content producers, etc and trying to find ways to address the problems,” Okoroji hinted.

The COSON Chairman therefore expressed shocked by the efforts being made by some of his colleagues and friends in the name of PMAN to discredit the historic Creative Industry Summit and to drag the Minister’s name into the mud.

“I have written extensively on Intellectual Property and have lectured on the subject in respected international forums across the world. I’m therefore embarrassed that someone would in the name of PMAN accuse the minister of ‘plagiarizing’ an idea for a conference!”

Okoroji, who is a past president of PMAN noted that the respect gained by PMAN was based on the principles the music body promoted and the language it used to promote those principles.

“We never sought to use the platform of PMAN to chase after anyone with whom we have personal disagreements, real or perceived. We never deployed foul language. As a past President of PMAN and an elder in Nigeria’s creative industry, I completely disagree with the attempt to use the platform of PMAN to contrive a dispute with the Minister of Information & Culture and to seek to blackmail and terrorise him using language that is very unbecoming of our once great association. There is a lot of work to do and plenty to keep every willing person busy. Let us join hands and do the work for the good of the Nigerian nation and the well-being of our children,” he said.