Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has pledged support to the creative sector by providing necessary incentives if elected as president in the 2023 polls.
The presidential candidate who made the commitment in Lagos, during a meeting with stakeholders in Nigeria’s creative, cultural and innovative industry, said no government can afford to ignore such a vital industry that has contributed immensely to the development of the country.
Atiku said if the necessary support is given, the industry has what it takes to crash the unemployment rate and generate huge revenue for the country.
He equally vowed to create an enabling environment for players in the industry by providing proper funding, training and capacity development. He said the funding would be liberalised and distributed through banks or agencies in order to make it easily accessible for players in the industry.
“This industry is a livewire for our economy. A sector that provides employment, especially for the youth, is not one to be toyed with. This sector can provide us with huge revenue if well harnessed.“The way forward is to increase funds for the arts and liberalise the process of acquiring that fund, if you give me the opportunity, I will do it because it is essential.
“I reject direct CBN intervention and encourage the private sector to be part of this, the government cannot develop all the funds needed,” he said.While saying that he understands the challenges in the industry because he owns radio and television outfits, Atiku called for collaboration with stakeholders on how to address identified loopholes in the sector.
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He appreciated the stakeholders for their patriotism which he hinted had kept them to keep providing jobs and contributing to the economy despite the many challenges and lack of sufficient support for them.
Some speakers at the discussion panel, such as, top entertainment entrepreneur, Ayo Animashaun; award-winning film director, Kenneth Gyang; ace creative director, Papa Omotayo; Talent Manager and Music Executive, Efe Omorogbe, media entrepreneur, Agatha Amata amongst others equally lamented the neglect of the industry by government.
While noting that the government alone can’t provide the funding needed to grow the sector, the former vice president promised to collaborate with the private sector to grow the creative industry.
“I commend the presentations so far, I understand your challenges which I am also facing because I own a television and radio station, I face the same problem of access to water and electricity as well as bad roads, so I want you to regard me as one of you.
“I look forward to a close collaboration with you on how we can develop the sector and explore its potential, it is a multi-billion income-creating sector.“If we work together, we can make it, I look forward to another meeting before the elections to agree on some modalities on how things will be done,” he said
Atiku’s running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa, commended the experts who spoke at the session for identifying and proposing solutions to the challenges in the sector.
He assured that Atiku was a promise keeper and that Nollywood would manage the Delta state-owned film village in Asaba which would be commissioned by the former vice president in December.
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He urged Nigerians to turn out en masse to vote during the forthcoming elections in February.
“There would be a new Nigeria if we work together to defend our land and take pride in it. We can make Nigeria work again through collaboration to rebuild the foundation,” he said.
Creative entrepreneur, Omorogbe, said major challenges confronting the music industry were piracy and Nigerians’ unwillingness to pay music royalties. He said less than 10 per cent of music consumers paid royalties which were not encouraging. According to him, the Nigerian music industry remains so huge, yet to be properly tapped.
Animashaun noted that the enabling environment for the creative industry must be created for businesses to thrive.
“We do not have the enabling environment to perform at the best capacity; this makes it so difficult to carry out major projects,” he said
Filmmaker Gyang, said if the industry must function optimally, whoever emerges as the next president needs to create a national endowment fund for practitioners in the creative space just as practised in other climes.
“If funds are created for filmmakers, it will enable us to tell our stories as a country in the most dignifying way,” he said.
Founder of the Africa International Film Festival, Chioma Ude, said there was a need to have more film festivals to showcase Nigerian and African creative content, adding that, training and capacity building should be prioritised and upscaled.
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“We should have exhibition platforms beyond the likes of Netflix and Amazon, we should have more film festivals to also woo tourists,” she said.
According to Agatha Amata, the entertainment industry remains a goldmine waiting to be tapped, stressing that the country needs to go digital.
She lamented, “a lot of resources have gone into digital development since 2015 but it is unfortunate, we are still where we are.”
A filmmaker, Francis Onoche, said serious attention should be drawn to the cultural policy of Nigerian films, which he described as amazing, adding that endowment funds for the arts should be revisited and provided.
He commended efforts of former President Goodluck Jonathan for the support on training, distribution, production and capacity building for filmmakers.
“We need you to support the true emergence of the creative sector in Nigeria,” he said.
The event had important personalities in the industry including top actors and musicians.