By BENJAMIN OMOIKE
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has presented cheques to 39 filmmakers, who are beneficiaries of special interest-free loans being managed by the Lagos State Creative Initiative (LACI), under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
Speaking at the ceremony, held at the Glover Memorial Hall, Lagos Island, Governor Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Pharm. (Mrs) Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, disclosed that a nine-man committee comprising veteran filmmakers and some senior government officials, headed by the Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, was set up last year with the mandate to identify struggling filmmakers that could be empowered with grants and seed fund for film production purposes.
According to the governor, the initiative aims to address financial challenges that inhibit quality film production in Lagos and Nigeria.
His words: “This initiative and presentation of cheques being done today, is a testament to our commitment to ensure the potentials of the entertainment industry are realised.”
“I congratulate the beneficiaries who are receiving their cheques today. I am convinced that your proposals and plans must have been really compelling and convincing to earn the approval of the Committee.”
Sanwo-Olu admonished the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the loans and pay them back within the stipulated time to enable others to access the fund.
While giving her opening remarks, the Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Pharm. (Mrs) Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, revealed that before the establishment of the revolving loan for filmmakers, the governor had made various interventions to ameliorate the devastating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on business owners in the hospitality, entertainment and tourism sector.
The Commissioner said: “Mr Governor constituted a Palliative Review Committee headed by Nollywood veteran actress, Joke Silva, which proposed a one billion Naira immediate intervention for the various stakeholders. Following Mr Governor’s approval, the Ministry subsequently presented cheques to some of the beneficiaries at the maiden edition of Lagos Tourism, Hospitality Arts and Culture Economic Summit, LATHACE held last year.”
Akinbile-Yussuf spoke further saying, “To complement this gesture, the Ministry sought and obtained Mr Governor’s approval for a 50 percent rebate on Operating Licence Fees payable by all the practitioners in the entertainment and hospitality sector for the year 2020.”
She averred that N200 million worth of cheques would be presented to the 39 successful beneficiaries of the revolving loan under the first batch, while more recipients will still emerge as the collation for the second batch of applicants has started.
Her words: “The State Government is interested in using the revolving funds to bring youths out of unemployment while also creating entrepreneurs who would use their creativity to enhance the market shares of the film industry.”
In her welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Mrs Oyinade Nathan-Marsh, commended Governor Sanwo-Olu’s doggedness in transforming the Entertainment and Tourism sector by consistently keeping to his promises to boost its potential.
“The Entertainment Sector is one of the key pillars of the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda of this administration and it deserves the attention being given by the Government to grow the economy of the State,” she affirmed.
Nathan-Marsh also challenged the beneficiaries on the appropriate usage of the fund, so that the door of the good opportunity will not be shut against other beneficiaries.
Some of the successful applicants, who spoke at the event, commended Lagos State Government for fulfilling its promise made at an interactive session held with the Governor last year.
Giving his testimonial, Mr Tunji Ojetola, said the exercise was devoid of favouritism as the application process was seamless, just as the screening was thorough and professional.
“This is the first time a Government policy is well executed and the commendation should go to Mr Governor and the Ministry,” he said.
Another beneficiary, Mr Adebayo Salami, who spoke on behalf of colleagues, also commended the State Government and promised that they will utilise the funds judiciously and pay back without defaulting.
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