Nigerian artistes have denied benefiting from a N32 billion federal facility approved by President Goodluck Jonathan to boost the entertainment sector, disputing official claim that part of the funds had been disbursed.
The Nigerian Export-Import bank, NEXIM, had claimed paying artistes N700 million of the money last week, in reaction to allegations the bank’s prolonged process of accessing the credit was frustrating the government’s initiative.
Managing Director, Robert Orya, said the delay was caused by the artistes mistaking the credit for a grant, demanding no collateral.
“The fund disbursement is not fast because with due apologies, most of the practitioners believe that it is a grant that was given by Mr. President. But it is not a grant,” he said.
“We appreciate the fact that these people have the talents, they don’t have the collateral.” He claimed N700 million has already been paid out.
But the President of the Association of Movie Producers, AMP, Zik Okafor, said in Lagos on Friday that none of its 1005 members obtained any loan from NEXIM bank.
“As far as I know, no AMP member was given any loan because the bank was not forthcoming,” Mr. Okafor said.
Also, the Lagos State Chairman, Guild of Nigerian Dance, GOND, Isioma Williams, said that the association has not got any money from the bank.
“I don’t think that the fund was really to support the industry; I think it was made for some individuals,” he said.
“We have been tossed around too often through the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, asking for one thing or the other by the bank.
“The government registered a lot of associations and guilds in the entertainment industry which were not known to us who are practitioners.”
Mr. William accused the government of not being serious about helping the industry.
“If the government is really serious about what they claim, they know how to reach us in the entertainment industry.”
An actor, Tony Ogom, said it is not enough for NEXIM Bank to just claim it had disbursed some money “it should name the beneficiaries”.
Mr. Agom then urged the authorities to publish the criteria used in giving out the money NEXIM claimed it had disbursed, saying “the whole thing is shrouded in secrecy”.
“They should also tell us how much each person got and what the person is using the money for and what job that was lined up,” the artiste said.
In the same vein, the Publicity Secretary, National Association of Theatre arts Practitioners, NANTAP, Ozi Okoli, said no NANTAP member got the loan.
“I have not seen anybody that claimed to have been given any loan; some did applied but I have not seen anybody that has been given,” he said.