The global entertainment industry, specifically the music industry sub set is worth $19.1 billion. A significant portion out of this delicious cake is munched by the Nigerian creatives, who have impressively spinned a $50M fortune.
For Nigeria, Lagos as the commercial centre enjoys the status as the seat of entertainment in the country. The implication is that Lagos gets the first and lion’s share of the gains from the industry. It is also pertinent to note that the entertainment industry goes beyond making music or movies. The satellite industries which are major generators of employment and income are Event tourism, Media, Food and Beverage, Logistics, Event Centres, Hotels and Suites, Fashion and Styling, etc, and are also income generating boosters for the Lagos State Government.
The implications for the South East are enormous and it transcends entertainment. The industry is regarded as Nigeria’s ‘New Oil’. It attracts foreign direct investments, infrastructural development, image making, cultural exportation and general local development. This explains why Lagos is far above other States in terms of infrastructure and why as sugar attracts ants, it continually pulls the best of the creatives from other parts of the country to it.
Nevertheless, there has been a clarion call for Ndi Igbo who are popular for their business exploits outside, to also look home. It has been a case of sheer irony for Igbo people famed for their entrepreneurial and innovative strides globally to have the opposite for their ancestral home towns. Thus, in the spirit of ‘Aku ruo ulo’, literally meaning, ‘Let the wealth from outside, build the home,’ some prominent Igbo people have been striving to reposition the South East to commercially maximise the yuletide season and subsequently design a modern bespoke entertainment hub that will be the foundation of other developments to come.
One of those front-liners is Dr. Kennedy Okonkwo. The real estate mogul from Ojoto drew some of Nigeria’s finest entertainers in the music and comedy industry to the large field of the Ojoto Boys Secondary School in 2019, to not just host a festival, but to commercialise the ‘Christmas and New Year economy’, open up the town to tourists, encourage the creatives, promote the infant economy and with him fixing the roads leading to Ojoto, further opening up the town for more business opportunities. It is important to add that Dr. Ken established, Kopetech, a creative enterprise hub for budding entrepreneurs from the South East.
Obi Cubana has almost become a house hold name in the Nigerian entertainment industry. Obinna Iyiegbu, the owner of the popular sobriquet is the Chairman of Cubana Group. This rising life style company is changing the trend of entertainment in Nigeria, with its chains of clubs, restaurants and entertainment houses in Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Abuja. In December 2019, their second entertainment house was launched in the South East, Enugu particulay, with Owerri as the first. Like others, it will be a breeding platform for the rising creatives in the region.
The Cubana Group’s finest Ambassador, Cubana Chief Priest has also employed intentional marketing of the creatives from the South East. With his compulsive character and business acumen, he has thrived to secure worthy ambassadorial deals for Igbo entertainers.
Obi Cubana also hosts an annual festival in his Oba home town. An array of entertainment greats like Flavour, Davido, Tuface, Peruzzi, DJ Jimmy Jatt, and notable comedians graced the festival in January, 2020.
Another note worthy project is the Kiek Foundation, run by Ebele Iyiegbu, the spouse to Obinna Iyiegbu. The foundation through internal donations and crowd funding pull resources to conduct school and hospital tours in the South East. Less privileged out of school kids are empowered financially and given a chance at aspiring to be what ever they want to be. The hospital bills of the less privileged kids are also sorted out. This is in line with their focus on investing in human capital development.
Finally, the Uli Festival held on the 30th of December, 2019, was hosted by the Okonkwo brothers, Kcee and E-Money who are not new in the music and entertainment industry in Nigeria. Nevertheless, they are contributing to the new wave of taking the business of entertainment business to the South East, especially during the annual mass return of Igbo people and their global friends to the South Eastern part of Nigeria.
What is appealing is the grass root development such festivals attract. Research shows that hoteliers, restaurateurs, food and beverage vendors, artisans, airline operators and travel agencies, crafts people, service providers make a large portion of their annual income form such event tourism.
To back the economic gains of the reoccurring festivals and event tourism with data, research shows that festivals in Ontario Canada provide over 22,000 jobs and contribute about $22 billion to the economy annually.
If these annual festivals would serve as the window for more economic opportunities in the South East, then it is in fact, a welcome development and should be supported.