The Governance system in Nigeria, especially at the Federal Government level is largely encompassed with a myriad of challenges ranging from bureaucracy, recurrent and capital budgetary constraints , political interferences, civil servants’ poor and negative attitude to work civil servants poor remuneration, housing deficits etc and it concomitant impact on discharge of duties.
The above scenario makes it difficult for one to give commendations when due after objective and critical assessment of public officials who have distinguished themselves in the discharge of their public service duties.
Amidst the highlighted challenges and more, in Nigeria, we still have few public officials who are unblemished in character and honest to the ideals of ‘good governance’, crammed with 21st century innovation and a commitment to focus on achieving their mandates.
One of such public officials, in the extended cabinet of the Buhari led administration whose sterling performances and record has somewhat not sunk into the consciousness of critical stakeholders is Dr. Chidia Maduekwe.
Dr. Chidia Maduekwe in the last five years since his assumption as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) has adorned the media spaces both print and online for various reasons, one of which is his outstanding performances and record breaking achievements.
Arising from the aggressive desire to rebrand and strengthen its operations and deliver on its mandate the slogan ‘’Powering Possibilities” was coined by Maduekwe and his team to reposition the Federal government parastatal.
The Nigeria Film Corporation which used to be perceived as an underrated parastatal has so far witnessed the birth of various highly commendable projects and initiatives. Through his laudable initiatives the Nigerian film industry has become one of crucial sectors to drive the Nation to economic development, raising societal awareness and culture preservation.
Below we shall be taking a cursory look at five landmark legacies of Dr. Chidia Maduekwe as the helmsman of the Nigerian Film Corporation.
Enhanced Staff Welfare and Professional development
Understanding the basic essence of staff motivation as key to the success of his administration, Dr. Chidia scaled up the development, welfare and training of both staff of the Nigerian Film Corporation and the Nigerian Film Institute. Chidia spearheaded enhanced employee training and development programs that are critical for enhancing employee performance. Under his leadership there has been steady promotion of staff and prompt payment of salaries amongst other initiatives.
Local and international Collaborative partnerships:
With respect to the infrastructural and manpower development of NFC , Dr. Chidia Maduekwe with his purpose driven leadership has seen the NFC sign mega collaborative local and international deals with reputable agencies. Majority of these MOU’s have since begun to yield results which are highlighted below.
In 2019 The Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) initiated partnership discussions with the French Agency for Development (Agence Francaise de Developpement) AFD; for training and capacity building for filmmakers in Nigeria. Both the NFC and AFD have since constantly engaged each other.
The AFD has also enmarked huge volume of intervention for physical infrastructural development, including provision of film equipments and other needed resources at the National Film Institute (NFI) Jos, the nation’s premier film institution, which is unprecedented since the establishment of the Institute in 1995.
Just last two weeks another Bilateral Audiovisual Agreement was signed between Nigeria and South Africa to escalate joint Film production cooperation between stakeholders from both countries. This feat, was achieved as a result of resolute efforts by Dr. Maduekwe, with the overwhelming support of the nation’s Minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
In a similar development the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) signed a ‘cooperation’ agreement with the Centre National du Cinema (CNC) and the Moving Image for film production. The agreement in 2020 in Abuja between the Managing Director of the NFC, Chidia Maduekwe, on behalf of the Nigerian government, and the Chief Executive Officer of CNC, Dominique Boutonnat.
The historic bilateral arrangement on film production, is the first of its kind in the audio-visual sector to be signed between Nigeria and any country. With the agreement, Nigeria and France are expected to create the conducive environment to enable their filmmakers to deploy their expertise and experiences in film production, distribution and archiving.
As part of the agreement the French Government will give a maximum of €135,000 as a grant to the Nigerian producer to help shoot the film. When a film is eventually produced, CNC will ensure those quality films produced by Nigerians will be exhibited in cinemas in France, and that will bring more income for our filmmakers.
NFC / German Partnership
In June 2021 the Management of the Corporation led by the Managing Director/Chief Executive, Dr Chidia Maduekwe, met with the Deputy Chief of Mission, Helmut Kulitz, in Abuja where they stressed consolidating the existing partnership.
The partnership has since yielded benefits as nine students of the National Film Institute have benefited from the 2021 foreign scholarship scheme Masters Degree Scholarship in Film Culture and Archival studies under the German scholarship programme known as the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) under the German Academic Exchange Service. Currently three beneficiaries of the international component of the scholarship have resumed their studies in Germany. The scholarship for the 2021 academic session of the two-year master degree programme covers mobility cost, monthly residency grant, German language studies grant, living cost and tuition fees. The institutions involved include; the Goethe University — Frankfurt, Arsenal Institute for Film & Video Art — Berlin, Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum and Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) (German Institutions), and the University of Jos as well as the Lagos Film Society.
NFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lagos-Paris-Arts to partner, develop and promote the Nigerian creative industry. The MoU provides the attraction of direct foreign investment, transfer of technology and employment opportunities for Nigerians, with the creation of institutional linkages between African and European creative industries.
According to the agreement the NFC and Lagos-Paris-Arts will be expected to jointly undertake outreach capacity training in film production at the NFC zonal offices across the country. Lagos-Paris-Arts shall also provide state of the art learning facilities suited for the development of digital contents at the training locations.
In May 2021 history was made as Dr. Chidia Maduekwe engineered the signing of an agreement with the National Bureau of Statistics on Data Production for Nigerian Film Corporation to be conducted through a comprehensive study of the Nigerian Film Industry. The groundbreaking inauguration involved a technical committee made up of members from both the National Bureau of statistics and the Nigerian film corporation, headed by the DG of NBS and Dr. Chidia Maduekwe respectively.
With a view of boosting financial returns and economic growth, the United Kingdom and Nigeria have identified strongly the need and importance for countries to collaborate in the production of film contents.
According to their submissions such a move can be achieved with the signing of co-production treaties through different financing models including;Independent film studio films and SVOO platform films, types of financing including gap financing, pre sale lending, tax credit lending, completion bonds, collection arrangements, sales and distribution agreements. The discussions involved the British Film Institute, the Nigerian Film Corporation, Bank of Industry and the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
In his quest to reposition the annual Zuma Film Festival in line with global trends, Dr. Chidia pioneered the NFC’s signing of yet another mega Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to host the Zuma Film Festival (ZUFF) scheduled for next year 2022.
With the new development, the 2021 ZUFF is estimated to generate a gross estimate of ₦2.5 billion in direct revenue from merchandising, in addition to tax revenue in excess of ₦1 billion. The signing of the MoU was performed in November 2021 by Maduekwe and the Minister of State (FCT), Ramatu Aliyu, represented by the FCT Permanent Secretary, Mr Olusade Adesola. The festival is expected to be funded by the FCTA while the NFC will put in place the required logistics for the event.
Having identified the challenges of assessing film school (NFI) in Jos to film training, the NFC and his team conceived and developed the Mobile Audio Visual platform – MAV 1. The aim is to roll out the mobile film school in remote areas where ordinarily it won’t be easy for students and intending students to come to Jos for training.
The 40 feet articulated and expandable audio-visual mobile classroom has since been commissioned, deployed and fully functional . The classroom can effectively train 30 participants at a time in the art of filmmaking.
The expandable and articulated Audiovisual Training Platform is aimed to increase film production across the country. The platform is equipped with the latest film training facilities that can be found anywhere in the world. It is also fitted with a high tech digital satellite for online, real time learning and transmission of film projects digitally. The project would undoubtedly contribute immensely toward the present administration’s pledge to give hope to the teeming unemployed youth of Nigeria.
The National Film Institute is the first and only film Government owned film school in Nigeria. It offers diploma , degree and masters certification courses in affiliation with the University of Jos. However, seeing the need to improve on quality in order to remain globally competitive with other climes in terms of quality, Dr. Chidia has since commenced the process of certifying the National Film Institute of Nigeria for the awarding of Doctor of Philosophy Degrees (Phd) to elevate the training standard for highly specialized manpower needed in Nigeria’s film industry.
In addition to that through the mandate of the NFC Boss, the NFI has constantly engaged foreign experts in full production to provide training for its students.
One of such is the organisation of Master classes, amongst which was held by Mr. Philip Gilpin of Catalyst USA on Episodic Storytelling, this was made possible as a result of the long term relationship between the United State Embassy, Abuja, the State Department in Washington DC and the National Film Institute, Jos, on training and capacity building.
Also from France, Mr. Alain Modot of ABC Pavillion Afrique’s online Film School on Marketing and Distribution rendered an expository lecture to NFI”s students.
The National Film Institute Staff has also successfully sustained its monthly seminar series. The seminar attendees include; lecturers of the Institute, scholars and students of film, media and theater arts.
Zuma Film Festival
Despite the ravaging challenges posed by the CoronaVirus pandemic in 2020, Dr. Chidia braved the odds to organise the 2020 Edition of the Zuma Film Festival.
For the first time there was a virtual and physical edition of the festival as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. The challenges posed by COVID-19 were part of the top critical considerations in hosting the 2020 edition. Undeterred by the COVID-19 challenges and other issues stimulated the impetus to organise the virtual participation, in line with COVID-19 safety protocols. The 2020 witnessed an impressive turnout and participation of regular, new attendees, partners and sponsors embraced the hybrid film festival format as part of the COVID-19 response.
The event involved physical guests as well as those watching and participating virtually through Youtube, facebook and other social media platforms.
‘Good Governance’ is a man with an embodiment of wisdom and distinctive leadership and entrepreneurship traits.
Dr. Chidia Maduekwe has undoubtedly proved himself worthy as an astute, intellectually driven leader who is always conscious of prolificacy at every opportunity given. He is undoubtedly a man to bank on for effective leadership, which calls for a higher level of public service.
It is safe to state his track record in the corridors of public service delivery indeed a call for higher leadership responsibilities particularly his home state Abia.
Kenneth Udeh a Journalist ,writes from Abuja.