Stakeholders disagree on FG’s call for entries on Big Ideas to mark Nigeria @60

Stakeholders in the Nigerian creative community have expressed divergent views on the Federal Government request that they should send entries for consideration in picking the best big ideas to mark the nation’s 60th Independence celebration.

While some have applauded the initiative as noble and unique, others said the task leaves much to be desired as it amounts to mere tokenism when benchmarked against the huge expectations on the part of government to tap into the creative energy and potentials of the sector by setting up an endowment fund for the creative industry.

Recall that the Federal Government, penultimate Saturday challenged the creative industry by throwing open a contest for best ideas in poetry, photography and logo design. The contest is designed to enable the Federal Government get the best ideas that will perfectly suit the nation’s quest for strong brand positioning as it marks its Diamond independence celebrations.

Consequently, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, Chairman Diamond, Innovation change Sub-committee, Nigeria @60 Inter-Ministerial Committee, announced the contest disclosing that the Federal Government has offered N5.5 million in prizes for winning ideas in the identified areas. It therefore called for entries submission which closes Tuesday 15th September 2020.

According to Pantami, “the winning entries will be rewarded with N3million, First runner up N1.5million and the second runner up N1million. The minister directed Nigerians to participate in the creative challenge as well as vote for the best ideas through the challenge portal https:/[email protected], stating that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved an inclusive National Independence Celebration Programme in line with Covid-19 protocols and guidelines.

However, as the entries close this week, key stakeholders in the Nigerian creative community have expressed divergent views over the initiative. While some creative professionals welcomed the idea as unique and novel, others simply dismissed it saying that the contest falls far below expectations of the creative community who expect a holistic activity and plans by the Federal Government, aimed at fully tapping into the creative energy of Nigerians and the huge creative potentials in the country.

Commenting on the initiative, President of the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN), Mr. Tony Agenmomen commended the Federal Government efforts, saying that “anything that is done professionally to enhance the status of Nigerian professionals deserves support and commendation. According to him, “it is a good idea to involve the creative community in the independence anniversary celebration and planning as it will encourage them and boost their morale. Beyond the money that will be given out as prizes, the involvement will create a sense of nationalism and pride”.

However, he lamented that the current economic situation in the country makes celebration an awkward thinking.

His views were shared by Pastor Ayo Oluwatosin, Former President of Media Independents Association of Nigeria (MIPAN), who, nonetheless, was also of the view that the contest should have been thrown open to students in the creative departments of the tertiary institutions so as to help them develop their creative talents, while boosting their ownership claim of the Nigerian nation at 60. Besides, he said if the Federal Government has gone through the formal route of appointing the creative agencies, it would have gotten a more robust and holistic package. Pastor Oluwatosin, who is also the Group Chief Executive Officer of Media Seal, said the current approach by government is a bit transient and as such cannot afford it the opportunity to tap fully into the huge Nigerian creative potentials.

Similar sentiments was expressed by the Managing Director of Agile Communications Ltd, Mr Rufai Ladipo, who opined that the best way he thought the Federal Government should have done the exercise would have been to present the project to the organised advertising sector professionals as a brief rather than making it a competition.

His words: “For me, the best way government ought to have gone would have been to have given it out as a brief to the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) who are professionals in the organised creative sector.”

He described government failure in giving the task to AAAN as a “structural misadventure on the part of the government and as such cannot get a quarter of result expected.

“I think this is a structural misadventure on the part of the federal government, because the current effort won’t give it the benefits of the huge potentials in the creative industry.”

Continuing, he said: “It is annoying the federal government still fails to recognise the efforts of AAAN professionals who have done a similar thing for it in the past during the “Good People, Great Nation” Campaign through the former Minister of Information and Culture, late Dr. Mrs. Dora Akunyili.”

Rufai Ladipo, past President of AAAN, was of the view that if government had given this project out to AAAN as a brief, they would have handled it as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Applauding the initiative, the president of AAAN, Mr. Steve Babaeko decried the timeline and the last-minute approach by the government saying that the timeline leaves much to be desired.

His words: “The initiative on its own is a good idea. The Initiators mean well and I am excited that the creative community is being embraced and utilised for the purpose of national development. However, the stringent timeline and the last-minute approach that the timing suggests, leaves a lot to be desired. The best of creativity aren’t inspired by short lead time. But like I said, the Honourable Minister means well, we just need to plan better next time.”

Continuing, he said: “Part of the conversation the AAAN had with the Honourable Minister for Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed last time, was how to partner with the ministry to accentuate and project the positive things about our great country. Years of blockbuster American superhero movies were a deliberate strategy of positioning the USA as a global superpower. That remains the hegemonic image of America in most people’s mind even till today. I believe there’s a lot we can do to showcase Nigeria, especially in areas where we are best in class.”

Commenting on the initiative, Mr. Toni Khan, a cultural enthusiast and renowned author, said the new challenge thrown at the creative community by the Federal Government is a welcome development as it will enable them to contribute more meaningfully to the nation’s development. He stated that the creative people in any given community or society are the ones best placed to project the image of their countries more positively before outsiders.

These views were shared and corroborated by Mr. Steve Ayorinde, Former Culture and Tourism Commissioner in Lagos State, who said it is an opportunity that would help the Nigerian creative community to project the image of their country positively, especially now that the world is interconnected. He was of the view that the winning entry would definitely impact the Nigerian image positively, stating that it is good the Federal Government is throwing the contest open so as to be all inclusive. He disagreed with some stakeholders who had earlier canvassed it would have been made an exclusive private sector project.

“For me, that is the Diamond we should be celebrating,” Ayorinde remarked.

In his own remarks, frontline performance Poet, a senior journalist and art enthusiast, Mr. Akeem Lasisi, said the Federal Government effort was in the right direction, but opined that it could still have done more by setting up an endowment fund for the creative industry so as to boost the nation’s creative energy.

His words: “It is a good idea for the Federal Government to contemplate giving this task to the creative industry professionals. However, as good as this idea is, if we juxtapose this with the major intervention which the industry has been calling on government to do, this initiative is a mere tokenism.

“We have been calling for an endowment fund and that would have been better. The government should have used the occasion of the 60th independence celebration to establish the endowment fund which would have been a good boost to jump-start the creative energy in the sector.”

Also commending the efforts, Mr. Lekan Otunfodunrin, Managing Director of Media Career, noted that the idea is a great one and should be supported by all, adding that it will provide participants the ample opportunity to show-case their skills while also projecting the nation’s image positively before the rest of the world.


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