How Governor Udom Emmanuel engineered the growth and development of creative Industry in Akwa Ibom State.
By Joseph Henry
The entertainment industry in Nigeria holds swear as the second largest employer of labor after the federal government. According to a news report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, “Nigerian entertainment and media market revenue, which rose to $3.6 billion in 2016 would increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.2 percent to $6.4 billion in 2021,”
The impact of such weighty revenue is the reason most governments are increasingly developing interest in the entertainment industry. It is worthy to note that the United States Government constructed a make-shift White House for Hollywood to shoot films that carry the image of America. Western and Asian Nations set aside as much as $100million as grants and soft loans every year to young and established entertainers for their productions and performances. While Universities and colleges, constantly provide grants to outstanding students to make films on core societal issues.
Albeit, the story of the entertainment industry in Akwa Ibom State had been very pathetic before now. It was so bad that most camera operators went far from film and music shoots to weddings and other event shoots. Performers had to abandon their craft for things unworthy of mention. A few others that practiced then, did so in very harsh conditions with substandard productions. The effect therefore was a dearth of professionals sustaining the progress of the industry.
While we had glimpses of appreciation of ‘government entertainers’ with a few cash in brown envelops by previous governments, the government of Deacon Udom Gabriel Emmanuel has turned around the story of the entertainers in the State. Just like in every project the governor embarks upon, this is done with short and long-term plan for quick result and sustainability.
Mr. Udom Emmanuel instead of taking the path of brown envelop appreciation style has put up an all-inclusive method in furthering the fortune of the entertainment industry in Akwa Ibom State. Thus; a popular Nollywood actor, Moses Armstrong, is the Special Assistant to the governor on project monitoring (Agriculture); Ini Edo, a renowned Nollywoodod actress is the Special Assistant to the Governor on Culture and Tourism; A popular comedian, David Sergeant alias Utang Akwa Ibom is the Special Assistant to the governor on Entertainment, a gospel musician Godfada Uko is the Special Assistant to the governor on Project Monitoring; Emmanuel Nicholas, a one time popular musician is also the Special Assistant to the Governor on Research and Documentation.
Such benevolence of appointing entertainers into juicy positions has never happened before in the history of the state. Mr. Udom took this path to give the entertainer a sense of belonging and to consult them on topical issues affecting the state in their area of jurisdiction. This of course has immediate and long term implication on the growth of the entertainment industry in the state.
Mr. Udom Emmanuel’s led government has also embarked upon entertainment and cultural projects never experienced before in the state. For instance, the introduction of “Ukapisua” cultural festival by his administration which showcases Akwa Ibom cultural activities gave Nigerians a first-hand exposure to the rich culture of Akwa Ibom State. The festival, aside from boosting economic activities in the state, engaged entertainment stakeholders, entertainers; dancers, costume designers, craft makers, comedians, light and sound designers, DJs etc.
Furthermore, Mr. Emmanuel identifying that the development of entertainment cannot start and end in the streets and with practitioners, took a bold step in constructing a befitting world class performance theatre and a Dance studio for the Department of Performing Arts in Akwa Ibom State University. This is in line with world class professional practises where artists obtain lessons in formal settings to sharpen their professionalism. The Governor believes the next generation in schools can take the entertainment industry to the next level through local content and style with global appeal.
To consolidate, promote and offer a ready platform for young entertainers, the government of Akwa Ibom State, through Ini Edo, the Special Assistant to the Governor on Culture and Tourism has organized the biggest Talent show in West Africa tagged ‘AKWA IBOM TALENT SHOWCASE and the crowning jewel of it all will be the ‘NIGHT OF STARS’.
According to Ini Edo, “AKWA IBOM Talent Showcase is part of the State’s milestone in reviving the hope of young and fresh performers in Akwa Ibom State for Nigeria’s entertainment industry” The intention of this project thus, is to raise obscure, unheard, unknown young but determined talented performers from the suburbs, the streets, the academia to limelight and the global stage through a competitive platform featuring DANCE, MUSIC and DRAMA.
This project is currently enjoying global viewership through digital media; Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter; Radio and Television stations. As Ini Edo stated, “This project is a well-structured initiative, fully supported by the State Government, ably led by my principal His Excellency Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel who understands the significance of this project to the creative industry and the state’s economy.”
Akwa Ibom State involvement in the Akwa Ibom Talent Show project is reminiscence of the beginning of theatre in ancient greece in the slope of Acripolis where Government sponsored performances and dramatic competitions. The mere fact that Actors are called thespians emanated from the first actor Thespis who won the acting competition.
The effect has been that Greece’s crave for drama and other performing arts influenced the world of arts in decades and centuries and still enjoys studies from all over the world till date. I am certain that Akwa Ibom State Talent Show will influence forthwith more young people taking a shot on entertainment. It will lead to a sustained development of Entertainment in Akwa Ibom state and Nigeria in years and decades to come and will give the state a befitting stature as the ‘centre of entertainment’ in Nigeria.
The 10 thousand entertainers march in support of Udom Emmanuel re-election was a strong statement that the Governor has done well for entertainers. But beyond the support, the number of people actively involved in the entertainment business is huge. It is believed that 10 thousand more are also in one form of entertainment or the other. 10 thousand young men and women are off the streets and 10 thousand more will join the train of stars as there is an aura of government support where equal opportunity has been created for all talented Akwa Ibomite.
The Entertainment industry in Akwa Ibom State might not be where it ought to be in the comity of nations with quality and quantity of work produced, but one will clearly see the significant change, progress and development that has been achieved since Mr. Udom Emmanuel came into Power in 2015. If entertainers must continue to enjoy the benefit of support they have, and reach the global world with their craft, it is pertinent and imperative that all entertainers must drum their support for Deacon Udom Emmanuel’s re-election in 2019. As the most entertainers-friendly governor, Udom Emmanuel deserves all entertainers’ support come 2019 and beyond.