There is little doubt that Nigeria has its problems. Although rich in oil, which provides much of its revenues, the country has a history of political instability and corruption with many citizens living in poverty.
The country also has more than its fair share of copyright infringement problems. Even if you take her comments with the usual pinch of salt, last year US Department of Commerce Representative Karen Burress painted a fairly bleak picture of the situation. She claimed that Nigeria was the largest market in Africa for infringing goods, with around 80% of the available international music CDs in the country and around 40% of local music sold as pirate copies.
Now, after a conference at the Protea Hotel in Lagos last Wednesday, a group of Nigerian music groups and artists are saying “enough is enough,” and are planning some pretty drastic action to attract the attention of the country’s President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to their plight.
The Nigerian Music Industry Coalition – which includes the Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Association of Recording Industries (NARI), Performing & Mechanical Rights Society Ltd/Gte (PMRS), Association of Music Business Professionals (AM.B-Pro) and the Gramophone Records & Cassette Dealers (AGRECD) to name just a few – say that Nigerian artists are “all dying in silence” and something needs to be done about it.
The coalition claims that after several weeks of talks preceded by a lack of meaningful help from the government, they have no choice but to take drastic action.
“We are, therefore, forced to request Mr. President to declare a state of emergency with respect to the fight against the scourge of piracy and muster the necessary resources to eradicate this monster,” they said.
So how does the coalition plan to attract the attention of the president?
“If we do not see any change soon, we have resolved to call on all well meaning practitioners throughout the country to begin a mass hunger strike to make it clear to the world that the situation is not acceptable. Also, as a sign of our seriousness, we will soon announce a ‘warning strike’ that will request all broadcast platforms across the country to observe a 24-hour “no music day” as a demonstration of solidarity with the plight of our industry,” they said in a statement.