THE setting up of the Creative Industry Financing Initiative, CIFI, by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee to improve access to long-term low-cost financing to entrepreneurs and investors in the Nigerian Creative and Information Technology sub-sector, is both timely and a step in the right direction.
The initiative is part of efforts to boost job creation in Nigeria especially among the youths.
The CIFI was informed by the fact that Nigeria’s creative industry accounts for 2.3 per cent (approximately N239 billion) of the nation’s GDP in 2016. Experts agree that the sector can be the Midas’ touch of Nigeria’s economy, especially in the areas of music and movie productions which have already experienced huge successes globally, even without any financial lifeline from the government.
This shared confidence in the huge prospects of Nigeria’s creative industry was what inspired the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to organise the Creative Nigeria Summit at the Eko Hotels & Suites, Lagos, from July 17 to 18, 2017 with the theme, “Financing the Film, Television and Music Industries”.
At that summit, Alex Okosi, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Viacom International Media Networks Africa, promoters of MTV Africa which showcases African music and entertainment, testified: “Nigerian music is all over the world. There is no nook and cranny of Africa you go now that you won’t hear Nigerian music. The world is looking at Nigerians as corrupt people, but our musicians are making us superstars.”
At the summit too, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said: “In the olden days when we went to farms and stepped on thorns, we limped and hopped to our fathers who always helped us to remove the thorn from our feet. Now, you are my children. Whenever you step on thorns in the process of doing this work, come to me.”
But the euphoria generated by the summit gradually died after the promises appeared to be mere sound bites, until on July 1, 2019, when the CBN released a circular to all deposit money banks on modalities for the implementation of the CIFI.
Now that the money (up to N22 billion) is available, all manners of people who have little or nothing to do with the creative industry would be scheming and jostling to have their fingers in the cookie jar.
We advise that the Central Bank of Nigeria, as the facilitator and regulator of this laudable initiative, put measures in place to ensure that only those who are in the listed professions and have the capacities and pedigrees to succeed get these loans.
Otherwise it will go down in history as another beautiful Nigerian idea scuttled by officials-aided scams.