In line with its zero tolerance for corruption, a cry has gone to the President Buhari-led federal government to look into the state of the grant given by Goodluck Jonathan’s administration to the entertainment industry.
Veteran actor, Lari Williams, on Tuesday, August 11, 2015 urged the federal government to question the current state of the grant the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration gave to the entertainment sector.
Williams told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that he and others needed to know what had been disbursed and what is yet to be disbursed.
Williams added that a proper management of the sector’s resources would help to keep it dynamic with the provision of requisite infrastructure and training schools for stage and movie performance.
He said: “There was a cash grant for the development of arts in Nigeria disbursed to the sector by the immediate past president but the practitioners do not know how the grant is being disbursed. We need to know how the funds given to the sector is being disbursed because the growth of Nigeria’s entertainment industry will be enhanced by such money if well utilised. Let’s restructure the industry to give a better foundation for the entertainment sector to grow the way it should.”
President Jonathan on November 7, 2010, during the 30th anniversary of the Silverbird Group gave a grant of $200 million to the entertainment industry.
The former president said then that his administration was determined to pursue a policy that would assist and grow the nation’s entertainment sector from a continental to a global brand.
He enjoined 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 were eventually domiciled with the Bank of Industry (BoI) for eventual disbursement to those artists who were able to come up with viable business plan.
According to reports, Black Ivory Communications was the first Nigerian company to benefit from the $200 million grant. Other Nollywood practitioners alleged to have had access to the grant include Emeka Ossai and Kunle Afolayan.
Williams also emphasised the need for the nation’s artists to be well groomed in the fundamentals of the craft they practice.
He said: “The decline in the creativity of sculptors, painters, poets, writers and musicians could be attributed to the lack of facilities on ground to harness these talents. I always say no bird can fly high on bald wings which imply that we are focused on just one aspect of the entertainment industry. We should not develop only screens and leave behind theatres and stage plays. The development should be broad based just like America’s broad way. If the funds given by the former president was made available, grooming talents in arts and culture would be enhanced.”
In March 2013, President Jonathan, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Nollywood, hosted a dinner in Lagos where he again announced the launch of a N3 billion “Project ACT Nollywood” support fund.
Lari Williams is one of the pioneers of TV and film in Nigeria. He starred in the popular TV series, The Village Headmaster.
He recently sought help from the public, saying he is homeless and going blind.