THE Presidency at the weekend, in Lagos, appealed to practitioners in the Nigerian film sector to use their craft and resources to help redefine the image of the country, especially at this time that their works have gained wider international acceptance.
The Penthouse of Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, lagos glimmered with the presence of about 50 of the practitioners in the sector, who had responded to an invitation to dinner by the Presidency to discuss the fortune and fate of the sector.
Among the A-list actors at the event were the veteran Olu Jacobs, Zack Orji, Bimbo Manuel, Kanayo O. Kanayo, and their younger fellows including Desmond Elliot, Ramseh Nouah, Ini Edo, Tony Umez, Genevieve Nnaji, Monalisa Chenda, Bimbo Akintola, Lillian-Amah-Aluko, Florence Onumah, and the President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, Segun Arinze.
Also present were producers and directors such as Ralph Nwadike, Mahmood Ali-Balogun, Zik Zulu Okafor, Kingsley Ogoro and others. Elderly producer, Eddy Ugboma was also present just as Mr Tony Abulu, a producer and distributor who flew in from his base in the USA.
President of the Association of Movie Practitioners, Pat Obazele, who coordinated the affair said that the practitioners were happy that the President inspite of his busy campaign schedule, had found it worthy to host the filmmakers, saying, “it shows that our efforts an contributions to nation building and the economy are at least recognised at the highest quarters.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Research, Documentation and Strategy, Oronto Douglas, said President Jonathan, had instructed that the dinner be hosted to give attention to the various proposals that the filmmakers had variously sent to his office. Douglas reminded that the President also wanted to show that he had not forgotten his promise of a $200million fund for the benefit of the industry.
President Jonathan, had a few months back, at the 30th anniversary celebration of Silverbird Group, announced that there was a $200m fund waiting to be tapped by practitioners for the development of their trade. Douglas said the fund was indeed available and the Presidency was working out the modalities with relevant agencies to make it available to the filmmakers.
The filmmakers, including the A-list actors and directors, who had turned out on their best celebrity appearances, however, reminded that the procedures that had been set up to access the fund was beginning to appear cumbersome. They said they were anxious about workability of the fund facility.
One after the other and in frank tones, they highlighted the various challenges plaguing the sector. Among these were the seemingly intractable case of piracy, poor distribution infrastructure, the irresponsiveness of relevant government agencies to their needs and plights, and as well as the reluctance of the financial institutions to assist the practitioners to access facilities for the development of their trade.
They reminded the President of the role they had been playing in the re-branding of the image of the country as well as the capacity of the industry to employ a large number of the youths as is currently the case.
Douglas who stressed on the various policy initiatives of President Jonathan to return the country to the path of progress, especially to revitalise the economy, said that the filmmakers and the sector remain critical to the plans and projections of the president. While urging them to remain steadfast in their activities and belief in the country, he promised to deliver their messages to the President.
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