The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said that the federal government is committed to ensuring that the N3 billion intervention fund which President Goolduck Jonathan promised the Nigerian film industry will lead to sustainable benefits for the industry.
Okonjo-Iweala stressed that the fund, contrary to the impression some stakeholders may be nursing, is not planned to be shared out as grants or loans.
She said rather, the objective is to leave behind something solid on which the industry can leverage on and grow to a new level.
The minister made the statement during a lively town hall meeting at weekend in Lagos with heads of guilds and associations in Nollywood as well a cross section of film makers and business people working in the sector.
In her words: “The N3 billion which the president promised is meant to be a catalyst which will help the industry leverage other sources of funding and expertise and grow to a new level. The money will not solve every problem but it’s a good beginning. We need to use it well for the benefit of this important industry and the benefit of the country.”
She addressed the gathering along with the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Chief Edem Duke who told the stakeholders that they need to reach a common position on key issues affecting them because that the pervasive hostility and bickering among film practitioners in Nollywood is an obstacle to the continued growth of the industry.
Chief Duke said that Nollywood has become an important ambassador of Nigeria and that the presidential intervention fund underscore government’s appreciation of the platform and its great potential to contribute significantly not only to the economy but also to a better understanding of Nigeria by the world.
Stakeholders at the town hall contributed enthusiastically to the proceedings and speakers said they shared the commitment of the federal government to the sustainable development of the industry.
There was a consensus that the development of a strong distribution system and the strengthening of expertise to deepen professionalism and expertise in the industry should be key areas of focus.
The town hall event was the latest in a series of consultations by the two ministers with stakeholders in the industry to get their input and ideas on the best ways to deploy the funds to maximise benefits for the industry.