I’d like to see mutual support among women in entertainment industry -Omambala
By Temitope Ojo
Ngozi Omambala is the chairperson of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Creative and Entertainment Sector.
Omambala is the Founder of NMO Management, organiser of the LoudNProudLive series as well as the brain behind Music/Fashion Runway.
In this interview, the chartered accountant-turned-music-and-fashion-promoter speaks on the need for women in the entertainment industry to support one another to achieve succession within the creative and entertainment sector, and why the government needs to pay more attention to the entertainment industry.
As the newly appointed chairperson of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) creative and entertainment group, what are your plans for the development of the sector?
I’m proud to represent this vibrant and creative cultural hub in one of the most dynamic cities worldwide Lagos, Nigeria; the global hub of creativity. It is indeed a privilege to be given such a position in an organisation that is 135 years old.
The principles involved in growing such an economic sector are similar to those used in nurturing any business ecosystem. Attention, investment and care, thus creating an enabling environment to allow the sector to flourish and blossom into a self-functioning sector that supports innate organic growth.
Nigeria with a population of 233 million has the largest population of youth in the world. With Lagos population of about 25 million, 60 per cent are aged between 15-35. I would like to think my experience of providing opportunities to support the future of the sector lies with the emerging youth and their development to allow for successful succession.
Also, attracting investment into the sector creates a more structured, cohesive and less fragmented structure with better equality of opportunity.
How can up-and-coming youths in the creative and entertainment sector benefit from LCCI?
Support and encouragement added with an enabling environment are key to addressing problems of youth empowerment in the entertainment sector. Over the last decade, NMO Management platforms have put youth development and empowerment as a priority. GBT auditions talent hunt platforms through which many of today’s artists have come through during the early stages of their careers from music, runway modelling, fashion, and design to supporting visual arts.
Within LCCI, we want to provide supporting strategies for a more conducive environment to facilitate growth support and productivity. With LCCI president Asiwaju Olawale-Cole at the helm, Deputy, Gabriel Idahosa, the DG, Dr. Chinyere Almona, and a supporting executive council infrastructure, we aim to partner with companies and institutions stakeholders to address issues and challenges.
I recently had the opportunity to meet the UK foreign secretary, James Cleverly, and we discussed the importance of collaborative opportunities, and engaging diaspora within the arts. I too came from the UK where I was born work and did my formal education.
I’m also in discussions with a leading TV music network, they are currently working on packaging videos solely for the youth market, making it affordable to produce video-to-market songs thereby receiving valuable TV airplay and marketing and promotion.
The entertainment sector is a major contributor to the nation’s GDP. What is your take on that?
It’s not difficult to see the enormous strides the entertainment sector has made in the last decade alone. The Nigerian entertainment Afrobeats phenomenon is now mainstream. Our music for instance can be heard and enjoyed worldwide. Go to any part of the world and visit shopping malls and clubs. My taxi ride when I was recently in Paris had a string of Nigerian music tracks on his playlist and was conversant with all popular songs. Social media has opened up Afrobeats to the world. Artists are being booked for performances on global platforms and being paid top dollar to do so. I was present at the historic Burna Boy concert in London, which took place with a sell-out 80,000-capacity crowd. Wizkid sold out 02 Arena in record time. This has a direct impact on GDP as does streaming, and sales from related industries, for example, merchandise among others which will positively impact and add to revenue generation and growth.
On the other hand, the Nigerian entertainment and creative industry has evolved with various established international corporate companies entering the sector. Artists need to understand the significant value of their intellectual property and its respective protection – whilst being in a position to monetise their craft without selling out. It is a lifetime business for successful artists, therefore securing their future assets is vital to their career and long-term prospects.
In what way do you think women entrepreneurs can navigate through the present economic crisis in the country?
Though crisis affects all individuals, however, women are particularly prone to the effects of economic crisis because of their position as homemakers. The traditional roles are changing as multiple income streams are keeping households afloat. With this, comes issues of affordability, escalating educational childcare against a harsh economic environment. Demands by professional and work responsibilities are added burdens. It’s a fine line and delicate balancing or a juggling act.
Women have always been resilient and amazing multi-taskers. Women need to keep their skills relevant and up-to-date in the workspace. Joining forces create support networks both work and emotional support. Participation to influence change in decision-making and policy implementation.
Women should get vocational skills because they are relevant in a fast-changing economic environment. Internet sources of income and working opportunities in adapting to changing work practices for instance, more hybrid working practices can support their working ecosystems and general well-being.
Within the entertainment industry, I’d like to see more mutual support for each other. LoudNProudLive in 2011 was set up originally as a female-only platform to address gender disparity in the entertainment space – giving visibility and support within a newly created live music space. Many females came through and are household names today. They have not afforded the same sisterhood support and seemingly shut the door behind them. There is an evident lack of female succession within the creative and entertainment sector which baffles me.
In light of this re-ignited #femmefataleseries for young female creatives to partially address this. I however urge our female creatives to try and show by example and be the change we need to see. Male counterparts are trying within their own capabilities. Davido’s mantra: ‘We rise by lifting others’ comes to mind as selfless but shows compassion in business. The Industry needs to do better to inspire young girls with dreams in the arts and technical skills space.
There seems to be a lot of copying in the entertainment world. How can youths be more creative?
Copycat culture is endemic in the creative sector, especially in an industry that is sometimes perceived as more intent on making quick profit, at a fast turnaround but lacking any real creativity to produce original ideas or concepts. We need to encourage and welcome the fresh energy of innovators and real creators. On the other hand, industry ‘stakeholders’ on the whole, may be more averse to taking risks and instead prefer to ‘play safe’ with their business choices. Which in turn can stifle and at worst suppress creativity. Music gurus: Olamide and Don Jazzy are incredible at spotting and promoting select talent and that is the reason #NMO platforms must continue to drive new energy the lifeblood of the industry which will always give us an edge as leaders in contrast to ‘follow follow’ mentality to stay on top of one’s game.
It is an innate quality or skill when ‘real (talent) recognises real (talent)’ as they represent the authentic ‘game changers’ and ‘industry captains’ and ‘role models in the creative and entertainment sector.
This too applies to the visual arts, dancers, designers theatre and filmmaking.
How has your finance background contributed to what you are today?
As an entrepreneur in the entertainment industry and a fully-fledged advocate for the mitigation of Climate change, its impact on the Continent and how we can incorporate renewable energy practices into business innovation, my financial background as a chartered accountant has been fundamental in understanding the creative business landscape often viewed as typically quite complex.
I would like to think my credentials thus far have served well, as an asset to help create an industry that was still at the early stages of inception in 2007, when I came to Nigeria from the UK, and became Head of Marketing in Nigeria for MTV Base Africa in 2008. It was the first time offices in Nigeria had been set up under the visionary MD president at the time, Alex Okosi. The first-ever historic MAMA Awards 2009 (Abuja) with a sold-out audience, was televised across the African Continent with an audience of 1.1 billion viewers.
This was definitely a historic milestone turning point for the industry landscape and personally for me recognising the sky is the limit at home in Nigeria.
This has also helped with the awards I have received over the years.
For instance, I received a UK Honorary Doctorate 2021 in Business Administration in Leadership and Strategy Management presented in Dubai UAE. In 2022, l completed an executive master’s intensive programme in Accra, Ghana. This year I received the 2023 Diaspora Champion Award from Diaspora Innovation Institute, Las Palmas, Spain.