By Theresa Moses
LAGOS/Nigeria: President of the Senate, Dr Abubakar ‘Bukola Saraki, has said that government’s support for the Nigerian movie industry, otherwise known as Nollywood, will help grow the economy and as well make the industry great.
The Senate president, who stated this in Lagos when the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), led by its president Mr Emeka Rollas Ejezie, paid him a courtesy visit, posited:
“The economy will not grow by chance. But, it’s my belief that if duly supported, Nollywood will not only be number one in the world but will create job opportunities, increase the country’s GDP and reduce poverty, among several other advantages. Hollywood is great today because the American government supported and funded the industry. Same can be possible for Nollywood.”
The AGN president appealed to the National Assembly to support the industry by providing legislative solutions that will lift the entertainment industry.
“An industry as big as Nollywood has no structure, no film studios, etc. Let the government put in place the necessary legislative instruments in conjunction with practitioners, so that every other aspect will fall in place.”
Given that AGN is one of seven professional guilds that form the Nollywood, “which has raked in about $7.2 billion: contributing more than 1.4 per cent to the country’s GDP.” The AGN president regretted that most veterans who have laboured and employed their skills towards the development of the industry do not have anything to fall back on after decades of service.
“With the talent and number of registered members – about 2 million presently in the 36 states of the federation, including the FCT – the era of begging money for ailing members because of huge medical bills should be a thing of the past. As a result, the AGN has set up afoundation with the sole mandate of raising a N500 million Endowment Fund for actors and, also, as a medium to give back to the fans by engaging in community development projects,” he said.
Senator Saraki supported the AGN foundation with N5 million, even as he called on well-meaning Nigerians to support the foundation, so as to achieve its objectives, including but not limited to taking care of the health needs of veterans and celebrities, more especially at old age; engage in community development which will enable it reaches out to the downtrodden in the society, as part of AGN’s corporate social responsibility (CSR).
The chairman of the fund raiser for AGN Foundation, Mr Segun Arinze, greatly appreciated the kind gesture of Senate President Bukola Saraki. He pledged that the foundation will serve as a platform to unite actors in Nigeria and bring them together for a common good, especially during community development projects. Other BoT members, the national executive council, chairmen of the state chapters and members of the AGN, among other dignitaries, were present at the occasion.