International Day of Democracy: Space for Members of Entertainment Industry Civil Society

By Justin IgeĀ 
Goodluck Jonathan provided no reason to show his romance with Nigerian Entertainment Civil Society groups were in good faith.
The Civil Society is the aggregate of non-governmental organizations that manifest the interest and will of society.
I am more interested in the impact of the Nigerian Media and Entertainment Civil Society in the Nigerian State. The Nigerian Media and Entertainment Civil Society have historically played important roles in the development of Nigeria.
In the 70s, a problem came into the Nigerian entertainment industries. Piracy came on board with the introduction of the cassette tape as a major carrier of music, together with the easy technology by which tapes could be copied.
Industry stakeholders formed a committee, Anti-Piracy Vanguard, led by Mr. Ojiji but it was finally decided in 1982 at Sunny Ade’s Ariya Night Club that PMAN be formed to confront Piracy. It was also decided that a new and more effective law had to be passed to address copyright issues.
We had two civil society groups advocating against piracy. These were the Nigerian Chapter of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFIPI) and Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN).
A lot of effort was extended and eventually copyright was got national attention with the National seminar on the Nigerian Copyright law held in March 1988. Entertainment civil society groups present included Nigerian Publishers Association represented by Mr. Ojiji; Association of Theatre Practitioners represented by legendary Hubert Ogunde; Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) represented by Cyprian Ekwensi; Society of Nigerian Artistes represented by Professor Yusuf Grillo; and PMAN represented by Chief Tony Okoroji.
The major outcome of the seminar was the setting up of a committee to draft a new copyright law. Eventually, the new copyright Act was enacted into law in December 1988 after several protests from civil society led by PMAN. (Sourced from Tony Okoroji, Copyright, Neighbouring Rights & The New Millionaires: the twists and turns in Nigeria)
The once vibrant civil society organization, PMAN, is anything but vibrant today though an opportunity to resolve the issues to reposition PMAN to positively influence Nigerian has presented itself. By order of the court, the Predy Wise led interim committee is legally empowered to steer PMAN for One and a half years. About half of a year is gone already and if the politics of PMAN is not sorted out by the end of the period specified by the court, PMAN may as well be forgotten as a relic of Nigerian civil society history.
Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/Gte (COSON), under the leadership of Chief Tony Okoroji, has risen to the position of the major civil society organization in the Nigerian entertainment industry, particularly for music copyright issues. It continues to play an important role in the development of Nigeria in this democracy. We also hear of different associations for dancers, music producers, backup singers etc. but perhaps with time, they will also make their mark in positively influencing democratic governance in Nigeria.
The other major block in the entertainment industry is Nollywood. Civil society groups in Nollywood continue to add their bit for the advancement of the Nigerian society. They have recently succeeded in getting the American government interested in partnering with Nollywood and in encouraging much needed foreign investment into the Nigerian economy. Nollywood civil society groups reported to have been involved in this effort include Association of Nollywood Producers (ANCOP), International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF), Association of Movie Producers (AMP), Independent Television Producers Association (ITPAN), Motion Picture Distributors of Nigeria, MOPIDON Directors Guild of Nigeria (DGN) and Film and Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (FVPMAN).
The importance of the Nigerian entertainment civil society groups in a democracy is perhaps evident in the manner former president Goodluck Jonathan romanced them – though the former president provided no reason to show it was done in good faith or towards any real development of the Nigerian society.
There is no doubt that Nigerian Entertainment Civil Society groups will continue to engage successive democratic governments and thus continue to contribute to the Nigerian society.
Justin Ige MCIArb is a Managing partner at CREATIVE LEGAL, a Media, and Entertainment Law practice. He can be reached via orĀ
#OgaLawya is a resource platform for providing free information and answers to questions on law, which relates to media and entertainment. Twitter: @OgaLawya; Facebook: Oga Lawya

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