The Nigerian Film Corporation, organisers of the 2022 Zuma International Film Festival currently holding in the Nation’s capital, Abuja has flayed Motion Picture Practitioners’ Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN) and Arewa Film Makers Association of Nigeria (AFMAN) over a press release issued by both organisations that they boycotted the International film festival.
MOPPAN had on Wednesday in a press release addressed to the minister of Information and culture by their National President Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Sarari, explained the reason for their action. He explained that the event was deliberately fixed on Sallah Day, which, apart from being a festive day for all Muslims all over the word, is also a public holiday, meant to honor and celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramadan”.
The president also said that the criteria of selection is biased “As 16th February 2022, NFC appointed the National President of MOPPAN as Chairman, Local Organizing Committee (LOC), Kano and Kaduna axis, with two other members for the objective of mobilizing stakeholders from the northern part of the country to effectively participate in the Festival”
However the NFC in a swift reaction by its Head of Media and Publicity, Brian Etuk dismissed the claims of MOPPAN stating that the rebranded annual Zuma Film Festival since 2017 has always been held from 1st to the 7th December.
Etuk added that in view of the need to ensure a truly national film festival, NFC in 2018, approached the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) for a joint hosting collaboration with Abuja designated as “Host City”. This he said culminated in the signing of an MoU in November 2021. He clarified that subsequently, the film festival was shifted to 2″ — 9″” April, 2022. He explained that due to challenges associated with implementing the collaboration finally resulted in its being jointly shifted to 1st – 7″ May 2022.
Brian specifically pointed out that Nigerian Film Corporation remains a responsible federal government audiovisual agency that has overtime in line with her mandate deployed resources of the government towards building a united Nigeria rather than stoking up religious or ethnic divisive tendencies.
As against the claims of MOPPAN Etuk maintained that the NFC actually took into consideration the Sallah festival of the Muslim faithfuls which led to the shifting of core activities of the Film Festival to the 4th – 7th of May.
“Indeed, as a build up to the Festival, the organizers visited (IDP Camps in Abuja to deliver Sallah food and materials as widely reported in the press and a free Sallah Film Screening at the Silverbird Cinema to compliment the festuity during this period.
“It is worthy to note that these dates were widely publicized to the knowledge and agreement of the President of MOPPAN, Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Sarari who nominated himself, his publicity secretary, and two others via a text message on 28th April 2022, thereafter went ahead to sign the above referenced press release under MOPPAN. They were all scheduled to arrive at the Zuma film festival on the 4” of May, 2022 at Nicon Luxury Abuja where accommodation had since been reserved, Etuk clarified.
On claims of being sidelined by the present administration of the NFC, Etuk dismissed the allegations, he outlined efforts made by the current Managing director/ Chief Executive to carry the association along in all its activities.
According to Etuk its is on record that MOPPAN members were the first group of film makers that the Nigerian Film Corporation led to meet with President Muhammad Buhari GCFR, and the Managing Director has held numerous interactive meetings/engagements with film stakeholders and members of film industry from across the country, including those from the North.
He added that Presently, a prominent member of MOPPAN is producing a documentary for the Nigerian Film Corporation titled: DANFODIO; the Reformer of West Africa.
Etuk said that the NFC is saddened by the actions of MOPPAN which he said is an attempt to input sectional bias in the activities of the Nigerian Film Corporation describing it as the height of disservice and mischief from the authors of this press release and their sponsors.
The NFC urged the film stakeholders and Nigerians in general to disregard this press release by MOPPAN which has all characteristics of cheap blackmail as a hired hand for an uncalled-for proxy battle.
Stressing that the allegations are obviously sponsored to blackmail and scuttle the immense success so far recorded by the festival as could be attested from several print, electronic and online platforms.