Lagos -The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said that “a pirated product is as poisonous as an adulterated drug” and urged stakeholders to take necessary steps to stem piracy.

The minister said this on Sunday night in Lagos at the command performance of one of Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka’s iconic plays, “Death and the King’s Horseman”.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the play was staged by the National Troupe of Nigeria to celebrate Soyinka, one of Nigeria’s literary gifts to the world.

Mohammed decried the level of piracy of intellectual property in the country, stating that elites were most guilty of patronising pirated goods.

“There are existing laws that protect the artists against piracy. However, it is the elites that mostly patronise pirated copies of movies and records.

“We need to start our campaign by letting the elites understands that a pirated product is as poisonous as an adulterated drug and worse than armed robbery

“When an educated person stops at a bus stop and in traffic and buys pirated CDs, books or other works of art, what signal is he sending out?

“We must first launch the campaign for people to know that piracy is worse than armed robbery; just as receiver of stolen goods is as guilty as the thief, so should we treat those who patronise pirated products,” he said.

Mohammed also called on the National Assembly to take a second look at the various Bills before it, notably the “Bill for the Creation of National Endowment Fund for the Arts”.

According to him, anywhere in the world, the creative industry thrives on accessibility to grants from government.

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“You cannot successfully run the creative industry when you borrow at 20 to 30 per cent interest rate.

“You can only improve and grow the creative industry when there is the enabling environment and access to fund,” he said.

The minister described Soyinka’s literary creativity, ingenuity and contributions to the growth and development of literature and dramatic arts, as legendary.

“I recall how, this time 30 years ago, Nigeria was inducted into the hall of fame of producers of Nobel Laureates with Professor Soyinka’s winning of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature.

“It was such a historic moment for us in the creative industry as a nation and as a continent because it was the first time that a Nigerian, an African and indeed a black writer will be named a recipient of the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature,” he said.

Mohammed solicited the continued support of the literary giant in the quest to develop and promote the country’s creative industry to enhance its contributions to the national economy.

Mr Akin Adejuwon, the Artistic Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Troupe of Nigeria commended the efforts of the minister at revamping the creative sector in the country.

He said stakeholders were looking up to him and believed in his capability to turn the industry around for the best.

NAN reports that an award was presented to Soyinka, who was represented at the event by his son, Makin.