Dear Governor Wike! Davido and Dbanj cannot help entertainment in Port Harcourt more than you. Here is why!

Hollywood remains America’s largest medium through which their culture and products are showcased to the world. We spend months waiting for American movies and albums, buying movie tickets and sometimes fighting in cinemas. That is why everything American seem normal and the world seems to have been conquered by everything America.

Recently, Lagos artists are conquering the world and bringing huge investments back to the city. Sony will open an office in Lagos soon and Jay-Z’s Tidal will follow in the coming months.

What do we read in the news about Rivers State? Kidnapping, Youths restiveness, political squabbles and killings. Apart from theportcitynews.com which is bringing other dimensions of the state to the world, most newspapers, especially national dailies, project a bad image of the state to the world.

Why not change that?

As a young lad growing up in Enugu, besides the normal stories of Port Harcourt being an oil city, Duncan Mighty’s music made our day. My cousins and I danced to ‘Jesus bu Eze’ and ‘Ako n’uche’ and because we did not fully understand his language that sounded like ours but not really ours, we began asking questions. It was through Ducan’s songs that I first came in contact with Ikwerre years before I came to the University of Port Harcourt to study.

Some people heard the word ‘Ikwerre’ for the first time from Ducan’s songs. I have since then been a huge fan of Ducan and I tell you for free that there are many Ducan Mightys in Rivers State waiting for opportunities to excel but they struggle too much.

The problem with entertainment in Rivers State is not the absence of talents or those who nurture such talents but that of structures that will enable the world to see these talents. In short, the industry in Rivers is a multi-billion dollar worth of goldmine when properly harnessed and will benefit the state in a way too numerous to mention.

We all are forced to speak Yoruba while listening to Wizkid, Davido, Olamide and co. Others are forced to speak Igbo while listening to Phyno, Flavour and Zoro but who is forced to speak Kalabari, Okrika, Ibani, Ogoni and Ekpeye?

The industry in Rivers State does not need Davido or Dbanj. The industry needs Governor Wike to pay more attention to it and see the huge economic impact that a vibrant entertainment industry in the state will bring.

People like Kobaba Jonsern are doing so much with Gospel Gang party. He nurtures teen talents too. A government that is serious about growing the industry will tap into that and provide support. Some of these artists go through hell to host shows and at the end of the day, people don’t show up leaving them with huge debts. Some are hoping to run off to Lagos where there is hope.

The worst part is that companies here do not support them during shows, especially the oil multinationals. Sometimes, these companies give flimsy excuses as to why they need to get approval from Lagos. Can you imagine that? They won’t bring their headquarters to the area where they dig their gold from and yet would need a go-ahead order from Lagos to support entertainers? Who gives them the go-ahead order when they support Lagos shows?

It is important for all these to change. The government has to show a reasonable level of commitment to the industry and watch others follow. Even the Governor hosted artists at the pleasure park and most were from Lagos. Why not have most of them from PH? What Lagos has that PH does not have is branding. It is not the lack of quality contents per say. I say branding because Duncan Mighty, Timaya, Timi Dakolo all blew up from here. Why has that energy not been sustained?

Why is it that the biggest shows in Port Harcourt are always done by Lagos artists while PH artists are relegated to the backyard in their own turf? Phyno Phest is like the biggest show in Nigeria with over 30 000 attendance yearly yet it happens there in Enugu with people coming all the way from Ghana and South Africa to attend. That is made possible by Ifeanyi Uba and co and Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu usually grace the show. Imagine the economic impact in terms of hotel lodging, stage sets, dancers, vendors etc. I don’t think Governor Wike has attended any show by any PH based artist this year. I know that he and others were invited to a show by the PH Comedy club guys and nobody showed up.

Ambode attends shows in Lagos with his cabinet members and captains of industry. That is not only economical but symbolic and restores confidence. Imagine if Governor Wike attends at least one show in one month with his cabinet and help MTV, Trace Tv etc to beam their searchlight on the industry here. That will go a long way to make the young ones sit up. When they see that they are appreciated, they sit up and work harder, connect the more and excel.

Why it is pertinent that the governor leads in the effort to uplift the industry, other billionaires like Dumo Lulu-Briggs, Tonye Cole, Orji Ngofa and Belema oil should cue into what Ifeanyi Uba is doing with Phyno Phest.

Give Kobaba 50 Million for a show today and he will put Ph comedy where it should be. Rivers youths are not only good when it is time for them to be used in playing politics. They have talents; put money on their talents.

Entertainment in this state is capable of creating millions of jobs. Entertainment has a chain reaction from fashion to management, it will reduce the number of youths looking for purses to snatch and make them work towards a goal.

Government can diversify the state’s economy by ensuring that structures that will make entertainers succeed are there. What Ducan Mighty is doing by bringing artists here is good. His cable Tv will also be handy but the commissioner for youths needs to sit up and do his job. Everything is not politics.

Okenyi Kenechi writes from Port Harcourt

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