Former Head of State, Gen.Yakubu Gowon, has urged filmmakers and other stakeholders in the movie industry to use their works to promote national unity and patriotism among Nigerians.
Gowon made the call on Saturday in his address as the Chairman of the Annual Film Lecture of the 2017 ZUMA Film Festival (ZUFF) holding Abuja.
The theme for this year’s edition is “Sustaining Socio-Cultural and Political Integration in Nigeria :The Film Perspective.”
According to the retired General, the Nigerian motion picture industry is a veritable tool that can be used to drive nationalism, build values of love, peace and tolerance among Nigerians.
“Film should and must be used to sustain our conversations on issues that bind us together.
“Motion picture practitioners must sustain the current narratives with positive images and stories that cast Nigeria in good light and reinforce tendencies that promote our diverse cultures, economies, languages and dialects.
“I believe that the industry has the power to encourage citizens to see themselves as friends of Nigeria, and friends are always loyal to one another, “he urged.
Gowon, however, frowned at the practice of using films to put Nigeria and Nigerians in bad light, which was an increasing trend among many filmmakers in recent times.
He lamented that such negative images often reinforce negative tendencies in people, and therefore urged film stakeholders to use their works as tools for positive social mobilization of citizens for national integration.
“Through film, the vision of a nation is articulated, opinions are shaped and characters are moulded.
“There are situations in which creative individuals have lent their talents to the propagation of hate and other divisive tendencies that threatened the unity of our nation.
“Owing to the popularity of these people, ordinary citizens on the street have now tended to believe that the short term benefits of evil are to be preferred to the long term good of society.”
Gowon,therefore, urged relevant stakeholders to use films to shape opinions, propose and set agenda for government and mobilize citizens to work towards a better Nigeria.
Also, the keynote speaker at the event,Femi Shaka, Professor of Film Studies,University of PortHarcourt, stressed the need for the establishment of Film Commission, and encouraging Industry-University Partnership,among other things, for effective development of the sector.