The recent protest by the staff and students is symptomatic of a larger national problem whereby people resist change or simply want to maintain a status quo even when hurtful to national interest.
Prior to the leadership of Dr Danjuma Dadu as Managing Director of NFC, the perception of that corporation was that of just another government sinkhole that must be steeped in inefficiency, waste and incompetence. This national acceptance of NFC as a mere place holder or an entity whose only responsibility is keeping staff on payroll has cost the nation.
For instance, its Indian equivalent has contributed massively to that country’s economy while providing jobs for millions of its population. This is in addition to projecting the Indian culture to the world. The same can be said of the American film industry where Nollywood promoting the concept of that country’s supremacy.
If Nigeria, specifically the NFC, is ever going to develop its movie industry to the standards that will empower it to deliver on the scale available in India and the United States, then it must necessarily be subjected to high management standards as well. Herein lies the task for Dr Dadu and his team at the NFC.
For a start, he will have to make Nigerians understand the huge benefits the film industry can deliver to the economy, wealth creation, youth empowerment and the impact it can have as a vehicle to promote and preserve our rich cultural heritage. Several government officials have at different for a spoken about the potential that the film industry in Nigeria has and how this is simply amazing. But we must by now move beyond talks. Speaking about the potential is not the same as activating the potentials and this is where Dr Dadu’s touch is needed.
The commitment of the present government to diversifying the economy is an added boost for the corporation. With the NFC under the current leadership doing the much it can to ensure the industry is a leading player, joining the diversification train would ensure that the industry can join the top five sectors to emerge from the new policy direction.
Since employment creation is expected to be a spinoff from diversifying the economy, the NFC Managing Director is reportedly coming up with different training initiatives to empower Nigerian youths with skills in different areas of film production. The aim is that they are trained in such a way that they can be self-employed and self-reliant after the training thereby taking off the pressure on the employment market.
Remarkably, Dr Dadu, is championing the change agenda at the NFC. This perhaps explains the hostile reaction from those staff and some students were yet to understand the benefits. In his characteristic self, he was able to communicate the imperatives for change to these protestors such that some of them became converts of his management style.
Whatever their grievances were, the staff of NFC and students of NFI must embrace transparency in transacting government business; this includes them understanding the intricacies around promotion issues in an environment where government agencies are increasingly resorting to international best practices that are not too different from the dynamism of the private sector.
Even as one would canvass the support of Nigerians for the NFC, the parent Ministry of Information must show the way in the magnitude of support that must come the way of this corporation. Those who want to resist change at the institution will definitely try to confuse the issues by sucking up to senior ministry officials to either have their way or to disrupt the changes being implemented at their workplace. The ministry must be commended for its earlier stand of not meddling in the affairs of the NFC even when recalcitrant staff tried to force them into interfering. This shows that the current leadership of the ministry is in tune with the international best practice mentioned earlier.
With this kind of support, the coast is clear for Dr Dadu and his team to make the NFC what it should be. A corporation that can impact the film industry and make it at par with its equivalents in other countries of the world. This would be possible if all Nigerians including the staff of that organisation pitch in and allow the changes taking place in the place to take root.
Jam is a public affairs commentator based in Jos, Plateau State.