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“THERE’S CABAL IN NIGERIA COPYRIGHT ADMINISTRATION”

In INTERVIEW on November 2, 2010 at 3:02 pm

‘There is a cabal in copyright administration’

Born 23rd of March, 1960…Patrick Doyle is a delight to talk to. In this interview with the trio of Gbenga Ogundare, Bayo Akinloye and Segun Elijah, Patrick takes on various issues that border on the laughable to the disheartening. Enjoy the reading…

Q.     How is life at 50?

You know, I turned fifty just about two months ago, so as a new  entrant into the club I am still getting used to it; I am still suffering from the hang-over of being in my forties but may be when I am two years into it then I will b e able to answer that question.

Q. What were your most memorable moments?

Well, it is difficult to pick out one or two episodes but I think memorably, I started my career as a broadcaster in 1980 that is almost exactly thirty years ago and I guess that will count as a memorable event and in the lat thirty years I have had several high points. I have had the pleasure of being involved in many landmark events in the broadcasting industry. As an independent producer I think I did the first specialized business programme on Nigerian television called Real Estate This Week – that would be around 1990. I am not sure of any other independent producer that did any other specialized business TV programme at the time. And that would be a high point. Another highpoint is that I was the first person to produce a television soap opera, Jaded Options that was independently produced and syndicated on Nigerian television. Even at that time Wale Adenuga called me for advice on how to go about syndicating his drama series at the time. That would have been Papa Ajasco. These are high points and I am grateful to God that I had the pleasure of being a part of this historic moment. Also I had the pleasure of producing a couple of movies. One of which was the critically acclaimed The Gardener. So I have had my fair share of the high points in my career.

Q. What are your challenges?

I don’t recall challenges. I don’t countenance negative things when a challenge comes I surmount it immediately and I forget it. But it will be a lie if I tell you that there have been no challenges; but whatsoever things are good and are of good report those are the things I think about. Once a challenge is surmounted it belongs to the past – old things have passed away and I am looking forward to new things. I also look forward to new challenges because they will surely come but the minute they are surmounted I confine them to the dust-bin of history

Q. Any regret in life or being a broadcaster?

I am a natural communicator; if I am not doing what I am doing right now I don’t know what I will be doing. So with that quitting has never been an option. Then nothing has been so unpleasant that will make me quit – it’s what I like doing, so quitting doesn’t even arise. Of course, I have had my fair share of tragedy but some of them are obvious and had been in the public domain. So if I tell you I don’t want to countenance it it’s as if I am being an escapist – obviously, I have had the unfortunate incident of my first wife passing on as a result of sickle cell anemia; recently as last year, my teenage son passed on too. So those are the low points I will acknowledge have happened. Even after I acknowledged that they had happened I still say that all in all it is well. Since I was twenty years old I have been a broadcaster that means my entire adult life I have been doing one thing so there is nothing I can compare it with. I don’t know any other life – if at the end of the day I tell you that even with tragedy it is well then it can be the only one I enjoy doing. It has been wonderful and I like the fact that I have earned the respect of my peers even of my juniors in the profession; with that I am grateful that I am regarded with respect. That is the most important thing to me

Q.  Do you think Nollywood as an industry has evolved?

It is still evolving. It is still in a state of evolution but people have this knack of getting carried away. It is not yet uhuru for Nollywood – there is still a long way to go but the ride has been very exhilarating no doubt. Because starting from having no industry to having one that has the highest number of volumes is a big achievement. Now that that has been achieved I think attention should be paid to quality of the movies that have been released – not just technical quality, but in the way the stories are told and the types of stories that are told. On one hand, I think Nollywood has brought Nigeria a lot of acclaims and on the other hand, it has brought notoriety by virtue of some of the films that we have been making. I know that Nigerians are very creative; they are very resilient and in due course the right people who know how to tell the right stories will come and find their space in the film-making industry.

What will be your blueprint for a perfect Nigerian movie industry?

I am very quick to tell people that the movie industry is not my primary constituency but I know many people within that industry who are very knowledgeable, very competent to screen a progressive motion picture industry that will meet world standard. And I will mention the people I am talking about; people like Tunde Kelani, Tade Ogidan should be listened to; people like Kingsley Ogoro and Amaka Igwe. They should listen to these people and allow them take positions of leadership and guide this industry to the proverbial Promise Land. That’s my admonition to those in Nollywood. Because like I said, it is not my primary constituency, I have practised in that area and that’s a thing I have done so creditably. I was told that my film was very well received – that is The Gardener. Even the other one I did call All about Hell, I am glad for that but that does not make me an expert in that industry. I concede competence to those people whose names I have mentioned and I think the wider industry should respect them.

How will you describe the wrangling in Nollywood by its key players and what future is there for the industry?

A. I don’t even countenance the rubbish going on. Every thing has a time and a season. When the time comes for them to come together and do what they ought to do – they would do. It is not the factionalization that you are talking about. It might surprise to know that many of the people you think are players are not really players in the strict sense of the word. There is a Yoruba phrase that adequately describes the lot of the so-called players. The film industry to them is ise a sare wo – the loose translation means ‘a profession that one just runs into’; so a lot of these people you are talking about are not players in the strict sense of the word. Maybe you want to call them hustlers or politicians, that will suit them better but when the real players get together there will be no time for all this nonsense that they are doing, and I see that there is a small groundswell taking place and shortly I think that we will begin to see a change in the way the movie industry is administered.

Q. What is stalling the fight against piracy?

A.  I have a little insight into copyright administration, and this piracy issues. And from what I know there is a cabal that is out to control the copyright administration not because they have any good intention for the owner of the content but they see it as a proposition where they want to make money. Everywhere in the world copyright is held like something of cooperative where stakeholders concede there right to a body that administers proceeds from their intellectual property. It is not a for-profit organization; it is a cooperative where all the stakeholders share. Of course, some stakeholders sell more and they will receive more but they concede the administration of collecting their entitlement for the intellectual property to a body. What has happened is that there is a war between two bodies who want to collect on behalf of stakeholders – one of these bodies has no interest of the stakeholders at heart. It just sees it as a business and the other one talks about it as a cooperative and a grand alliance of stakeholders from the musician to the marketing arm and they have formed a body. So you can know that it is a serious body and that is called COSON, the copyrights society of Nigeria. And there is another one that acts as a limited liability company claiming it is monopoly to have just one body. It argues that there must be freedom to compete. You don’t compete in a cooperative environment. It is this body that is running collection of intellectual property entitlement like a business and putting in a lot of confusion. They are behind the crisis at the AGF, PMAN and they are behind the crisis of association of movie producers. They have been behind all the crises that have bedeviled the creative industry for the last fifteen years and they have not let up. So that is what the problem is. They have been charged to court severally for criminally operating as the collecting society.

How have Nigeria’s broadcasting stations fared?

Nigeria is a country of extreme paradox, I say this poetically, we have the worst television and radio station in the world in Nigeria and we have best radio and television station in Nigeria so it is a world of paradox. Many of the broadcast media in Nigeria did a lot to be desired. One thing about broadcasting in Nigeria is that an average Nigerian will look up to them for information – even to the point of pronunciation. But if you go by what comes out of some of these stations and you copy it you will effectively be a functional illiterate. Then again, we have some stations in Nigeria that are exceptionally good. They have broken the mould. For example, Channels television – by John Momoh – an excellent broadcast institution. There is a new TV station that just came up this month, NN24. Its production values and editorial philosophy are world-class. It is run by a very young Nigerian called Anthony Dara – he is in his 30’s. As I said Nigeria is a country of paradox, we have the best and the worst. But let us hope that the rest of the broadcast media that are lagging behind take an example from the excellent media I have just mentioned. There are many others which are good. I chose those two because they are considered to be really up there. NN24 has 21st century technology that is totally digital. When you are watching the station you will think you are watching CNN and that is how good they are and John Momoh’s broadcasters are world-class by all standards.

Q   What is responsible?

A.  I think it is the same thing that is responsible for the unparalleled failure in NECO and WAEC experiencing two percent pass. They have institutionalized mediocrity. Merit has been sidelined in Nigeria; but that is not today’s story – that has been going on for nearly 25 years but we are just seeing this hard work of 25 years of bringing mediocrity to the fore front. Now we are seeing 1.98 percent pass in NECO; not up to two percent. That is the reason. 80%of the people we been churning out of our educational institutions in the last 15 years are illiterate. So these are the same people who work in these stations. So how can they be good? It is not their fault but the reality of the situation is that inept leadership has led to what we see today. Can they be salvaged? I hope so. I don’t know how. But I think we are blessed with visionary leaders who can find a way out of this miasma….No body is an island; no profession is an island. It is the raw materials the educational institutions have produced that find their way into banking, that find their way into law, into accountancy, into broadcasting. So, garbage in, garbage out. The broadcast industry is not responsible for that – even the schools themselves are not responsible for that. It is inept leadership, visionless leadership that we have had in the last 25 to 30 years. We have seen the result of military adventurism: the collapse of educational system. Because as it is, you would recall, at the beginning of military adventurism, as far back as the First Republic, it was the students who rose against the British defence pact and was violently protested. So the leadership has seen the educational sector and the student as san enemy who must be liquidated and neutralized and that was perfected by the administration of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. So, what we have seen here is a concerted and articulated affront on the intelligentsia by the military administration. And no doubt the Obasanjo regime did not see any reason why they should ameliorate that situation because we are ten years after the military administration. The people who failed NECO were in primary two in 1999. So we have had ten years of civilian administration that could have done something about it but failed or refused to because that did not fit in to the third-term agenda.

In essence if you are to score Nigeria’s ten years of democracy what will be your verdict?

If NECO scored 2% and they were responsible for it, I leave you to judge.

Without formal tertiary education, how did you become an erudite communicator?

I tell you that, our education started dying about 25 years ago; I left secondary school about 33 years ago. I am lucky; I am probably with the last set that left secondary school with an education. And I said this with responsibility. So I left secondary school with an education. What was just left is to read – what do they do in the university? You read. I left secondary school as a literate person and I just continue to read and better myself. And that is what is lacking today. I challenge anyone to put me to an intellectual test with anyone with PHD that has gone through Nigerian educational system I can not be dismissed because they have had to buy marks from lecturers. See, two percent passed NECO, how many of those people qualified to go into tertiary institutions? Only two percent. But you will be surprised that many more will gain admission and will turn out to be functional illiterates who will pay for marks and become worse for it. I am not their mate. I am a typical Nigerian who received a Nigerian O’ Level education in the seventies – those Nigerians are literate; more literate than your average Nigerian Masters holder of today. It’s not rocket science.

Q   Yet we find it curious that soon you will be enrolling in one of Nigeria’s tertiary institution?

A.  First I want to give an example to young people that education is important. I can teach. But because we have bastardized the paper qualification over the years, I don’t want to people to look at me and say ‘Look at Patrick, he doesn’t paper qualification – so, I don’t need it!’ It is needful; it is necessary. So I want to eliminate anyone who says ‘Patrick is my role model, he doesn’t have it, I don’t need it’. That is the simple reason….Honest to God those things are beyond my capacity. I am a broadcaster, not an educationist. I am not even an administrator. But common sense has to come to play. We will need to trace when the rot began and if we traced when the rot began, we can now say to ourselves that from 1982 everything we have done has rubbish. Go to a databank, find out all the people who are especially in the teaching profession and begin to retrain and re-certify them at government cost.  The government has a responsibility to do this. Because we live in the digital age it is possible to do it simultaneously through ICT. So that they can educate our children properly and we need to start immediately. We must do it. I must tell you, next year NECO result – except NECO wants to tell a lie – cannot be better than two percent.

Q. What’s future plan?

A. At 50, I’m not proud to say that the things that ought to be in place in     terms of legacy for my biological children are not in place. So I am going to concentrate on putting those things in place. I am talking about physical things – tangible things that a man at my age ought to have, kept aside so that on my demise…the Bible says a wise man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children; I haven’t even left for my children not to talk of my children’s children. So the next couple of years I am going to dedicate to putting things down for them. When that is done, and I hope it is done quickly – though I feel that’s kind of selfish. I hate the fact that if Nigeria was a proper country and I was doing what I am doing, I would not need to worry – those things would have come naturally. But with things now I have to stop what I’m doing, face it, and get it. Then I can go back to the issue of being more altruistic about what’s going on.

Q. Do you have a sickle foundation?

A. No. I am starting an initiative to draw attention to sickle cell; if it ends up        being a foundation, all well and good. But, it is an initiative. My late wife died of sickle. Our teenage son died of sickle cell. When lightning strikes twice in the same place you must be a foolish man not to address the issue. So I have considered it we have a problem with sickle in Nigeria and indeed, Africa. People have mystified and specialize it and therefore when they mystify it and specialize they leave it alone. But I say, let us draw attention to it. Let us look at it for what it is. It is a genetic disorder. It is pure science. When we remove the mystique around then we can find a way to deal with it objectively. My business is to demystify sickle so that resources can be placed in the hands of researchers to find a way to ameliorate the suffering that arises from the disorder.

Q. As a typical Nigerian your name is everything but Nigerian. Why?

A. Patrick Rutherford Doyle. My grandfather is an Irishman gentleman –      Patrick Joseph Doyle. He married an Itsekiri princess – Princess Kaka Egbe of Warri – and they had a son called Patrick Doyle who was my father. Does that make me a Nigerian? Oh yes! I am a Nigerian. I am more at home here. I am an Itsekiri man and my mother is from Calabar. So I call myself an Itsekiri man from Calabar.

Q. What are you looking at in the next one decade?

A. I’m hoping that I can quickly put those tangle things together in the next one year or two. What I want to do at this time is to be useful to Nigeria in a bigger capacity. I’ve been in broadcasting for 30 years and it has done me well. We have a problem in Nigeria with leadership. One of the biggest problems we have with leadership in Nigeria is that the support structure for good leadership does not exist. In fact, there are good leaders. There are people with potentials to lead us to the utopia that we all desire. I’ll name a few: Chris Okotie, Bola Tinubu, Donald Duke and Tunde Fashola. These are the people who want to be useful to Nigeria in a bigger capacity. I want to be able to work with a man with good leadership qualities in a support capacity not praise-singing. We have institutionalized sycophancy; even people with dignity don’t know when they fly into sycophancy. I feel at my age I should be able to tell a leader the truth. And I want to be financially comfortable to the point that it is not the allowance that is paid that will determine the quality of advice that I give a leader.

Q. What books have made real impact on you?

A. I’ve stopped reading. I used to read a lot before. I think the only book I read from time to time is the Bible. It is the repository of all knowledge and all wisdom.

Q. You don’t drink, you don’t smoke and you don’t go to nightclub, so how do you relax?

A. I watch television. I’m a family man; I like being with my people.

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