By Alex Eyengho
My concern this week is about the very elusive 200 million US Dollars His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan publicly promised the Nigerian entertainment industry, almost two years ago.
Entertainment industry in this sense includes Nollywood, the music industry, comedy, fashion, modeling and other relevant sectors directly linked with Nigeria’s creative industry as a whole.
Lack of funding remains topmost among the myriad of challenges confronting the entertainment industry. It was, therefore a big relief and soul lifting for practitioners and other stakeholders when President Jonathan announced a $200 million intervention fund for the country’s entertainment industry.
The president made the announcement on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Silverbird Group in Lagos. The thunderous applause, which greeted this presidential pronouncement, almost pulled down the roof of the capacity filled hall.
Suffice it to say that this pronouncement came during the thick of political campaigns by various presidential aspirants gunning for the coveted office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria via the April 2011 Presidential elections. President Jonathan was then one of the leading aspirants.
The timing couldn’t have been better. If the pronouncement was a campaign gimmick to win over electorate in the entertainment industry, then it was robustly on point. The entire entertainment industry, particularly Nollywood and music industries practically went gaga with different genres of the ‘Jonathan for President’ praise slogans.
Most of our highly rated thespians and music icons became instant clappers and dancers for the amusement of Abuja politicians. At the end, mission was accomplished and Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was declared as winner of the election. As the clichérized saying goes, the rest is now history.
To date, all we hear about the $200 million is that it would be jointly managed and disbursed by the Bank of Industry (BoI) and the Nigerian Export-Import (NEXIM) bank.
I can boldly state here without fear of contradictions that as at today, not a dime or one kobo of the Jonathan’s $200 million has reached either of these financial institutions. I am aware of the heavily publicized disbursement of some funds by BoI and NRXIM bank to London returnee, Kene Mrakpu of ‘ Film House and USA-based Mr Tony Abulu.
Unsuspecting stakeholders and readers were railroaded into believing that these disbursement came directly from the mythical Jonathan’s $200 million. How far can this be from the truth!
To be continued next week.