Nollywood star actor and comedian, John Okafor, popularly known as ‘Mr. Ibu’ has decried how monies earmarked for the development of the film industry in Nigeria by former President Jonathan were diverted to private pockets.
In an interview with Vanguard newspaper, the actor condemned the attitude of fellow industry practitioners who approach governments begging for alms. According to him, “I promised myself that I will never be part of the people going to government houses seeking alms. Our people should stop piling themselves in government houses.”
Speaking further, he said all those who diverted money for the Nollywood industry will die. “When ex-President Goodluck Jonathan was in office, every minute they were there asking for all manner of favour. And the ex-President loved us so much that he gave them huge money. All those who diverted monies meant for AGN or Movie Makers will die because they do not know the souls they have killed,” he said.
President Jonathan on November 7, 2010 during the 30th anniversary of Silverbird Organisation, gave a grant of 200 million dollars to Nigeria’s entertainment industry. The then president said that his administration was determined to pursue a policy that would assist and grow the nation’s entertainment sector from continental to global brand. He charged entertainment practitioners to use the loan to produce quality music and movies that would create more jobs for people and make the country proud.
The funds, SIGNAL gathered were eventually domiciled with the Bank of Industry (BoI) for eventual disbursement to those artists who were able to come up with viable business plans.
Emeka Ossai, a renowned Nollywood actor, told newsmen in 2014 that he was able to get some funds from the BoI after he was able to present a workable business plan.
But in a sharp twist, in August 2015 the Bank of Industry (BoI) denied receiving the $200 million Entertainment/Nollywood Fund from the former administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
In a statement issued by the bank, it described as untrue a news report calling for the probe of the bank on the premise that the former president had released the money to it. The statement said the bank never received such money.
“The attention of the bank has been drawn to a news report titled “Probe Jonathan’s $200 million Nollywood Fund, Lari Williams tells Buhari” wherein Mr. Lari alluded to the domiciliation of $200 million with the Bank of Industry Limited for eventual disbursement to artists who are able to come up with viable business plans.
“BOI would like to state for the records that it is not managing any $200 million Entertainment/Nollywood Fund and at no time did the bank receive any such fund from the government for the Entertainment/Nollywood sector.
“This publication became necessary as some practitioners in the creative industry believe that BOI is in receipt of $200 million Entertainment/Nollywood Fund.
“Due to the commercial potentials of the entertainment industry in Nigeria, the bank has been making investments in the industry from its own resources since 2011. It has provided financial and advisory support to the following sub-sectors of the industry: movie production, cinemas, amusement/theme parks production studios, etc. Recently, the Bank launched the NollyFund with a fund size of N1.0 billion to support movie production and distribution.
“Based on the foregoing, we hereby state unequivocally that the Bank of Industry Limited is not in custody of $200 million meant for the Entertainment/Nollywood sector,” said the statement.
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