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$200M Intervention Fund:Nigerian Entertainers Lament Inability to Access Jonathan's Largesse

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The joy and excitement with which Nigerians in the entertainment industry received the announcement by President Goodluck Jonathan, early this year, that he was giving out $200 million to the industry is gradually fading out. President Jonathan had announced that he was donating the amount to boost the industry during his visit to Lagos for his Bring Back the Book initiative campaign at Eko Hotels and Suites as part of his plans to gain the support of Nigerians during his election bid.  

  The announcement of the fund had torn the entertainment group apart with rival group claiming the power to be in possession and disburse it where necessary. Another issue that cropped up during this period was the fact that there was no basic idea of what the fund was aimed at in the industry and there was no framework for its monitoring.  

  This had resulted in doubts and lack of trust on the part of stakeholders for each other before the money was finally made available to the Bank of Industry to help monitor how the fund is utilised.  

  It was learnt that the bank then turned the $200 million into a loan facility from which stakeholders in the entertainment sector could draw.  

  However, those within the industry have now started lamenting their inability to access the fund. / learnt that their frustration comes from the hurdles placed by the bank which has made it difficult for any of them to gain access to the fund which was meant to be a loan facility.  

  Part of the hurdles placed by the BoI is said to be the requirement of collateral that are in most times too huge and beyond the reach of the loan seekers, many of whom are producers of movies in the country.    

  Apart from this, there are serious bureaucratic bottlenecks hindering the effective utilisation of the loan. As a result, nobody within the sector has been able to gain access to the loan.  

  Head of High Waves Video Marts, which markets movies, Olurotimi Aina Kusoro, corroborated this finding as he agreed that apart from the troubles and division caused by the announcement of the intervention fund, it has been left untouched since no one, even the big goons among them, could secure any loan from it.  

  Giving a funny condition for the loan to be given out by the bank authorities, he said: "When you go there; they ask you for your mother's coffin receipt and other funny documents," wondering how many Nigerians could be in possession of this and other such documents required by the bank.  

  His conclusion, like many of his colleagues, is that the fund is just a mere political pronouncement and more on paper than reality. If not, he thinks, how can those it is meant for be denied of it?  

While the lamentations have continued, a staff of the BoI explained to t that the availability of the fund is shrouded in secrecy. The staff, who does not want to be named because she is not legally mandated to speak on behalf of the bank, confided in that most of her colleagues do not even know if the money is available with the bank.  

  She further said the placing of such requirements for the loan to be granted is meant to discourage the music and movie industry stakeholders from flocking around the bank when ordinarily, the fund may not be available.  

  "I can tell you that the fund may or may not be available. It has even become a mystery for us and we now think President Jonathan only used the pronouncement to capture the entertainment industry for his success at the just concluded polls. Else, I see no reason why they are deprived of money that was publicly pronounced as an intervention fund", she said.