Nollywood: $200m intervention fund, YouWIN to the rescue


The fund may not be at large, but there are people who shoot a movie for N10 million, N20million, even for people who shoot a movie for N5million

It was an interactive session, recently at the Oceanview, Victoria Island, Lagos, as stakeholders in the Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood, came together at an event tagged  Sure and Steady Transformation  (Progress Report of President Goodluck Jonathan s Administration). The forum, which was anchored by Kanayo O Kanayo, provided veritable platform for stakeholders in the movie industry to clear the air on the $200 million (N30b) intervention fund announced two years ago by President Goodluck Jonathan.

The meeting, however, proved many critics of government, who had thought that the parley was going to be another campaign strategy. The Special Adviser to the President on Documentation, Research and Strategy, Oronto Douglas, stroked a chord when he reminded the practitioners of the president's love and interest in the development of the industry, which he said is an important tool in projecting Nigeria's image to the rest of the world.

In his speech, the special adviser, who led a delegation to the event, addressed the growing complaints regarding the constant brick walls preventing filmmakers from accessing the $200 million (N30b) intervention fund after two years.

He said that government has come up with another measure aimed at actualizing the fulfillment of the pledge, and that the new option is government s way of responding to the agitations and cries of industry players.

According to him,  the alternative is the YouWIN, an acronym for Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria, launched some months ago by the Federal Government as a veritable platform for job creation for Nigerian youths.

Looking at the established criteria of the YouWIN platform, an applicant must not be older than 45 years with proof of identity, a post-secondary school qualification, a proposed business plan within Nigeria and intention of employing Nigerian citizens.

Others are, the proposed venture must not entail the production or distribution of weapons, alcoholic beverages, tobacco or and gambling, as well as any activities in contradiction with the Nigerian constitution.

Some of the stakeholders present at the event wondered how they would fit into such an arrangement. But the special adviser put their fears to rest by pointing out that the requirements announced for the generality of Nigerian youths, do not apply to the practitioners in the entertainment industry, through a window of grace opened for them by government in the programme.

This, he said, means a movie producer or director can access a loan facility of up to N10 million and beyond, which he feels would help boost Nollywood, if well utilized.

He said:  Though a number of practitioners have accessed the intervention fund, and like the gentle man said, they went back for more. But because of collateral and all, the vast majority are yet to benefit from this fund and that is why the President had to create a window, which is the YouWIN fund, which will now give opportunity to more people to access the fund.

In that sense, you can say that we are making progress to strengthen the movie and the entertainment industry in general, so that at the end of the day, it would be the vehicle that will continue to promote and project Nigeria. It is important; it is an area that no government will allow to go without being protected.

And considering the uncomfortable long time it has taken since the president s announcement; Oronto, explained the delay as a process that started from where is should have started. He, however, admitted that in the process of fine-tuning, many bottlenecks cropped up regarding the implementation of the $200 million intervention funds.

You know building a house, you don't start from the roof top, you build a foundation. So every brick that you put is to meet with the roof top, and I can assure you that members of the Nollywood community are pleased with this interaction, are satisfied with the progress that has been made so far. Even if there are competing interests in the country, which are several, if you ask someone what she wants tackled, she might point to health, another could say education or agriculture and so on.

 The President knows that regarding the image of Nigeria, we cannot do without supporting the entertainment industry. This is in view of its immense capacity to create a lot of jobs for young people and promote talents. For this reason, the government is responding and supporting this industry. So the ways to the top has begun in earnest and we are going to get there.

Against the backdrop that only one or two film makers based outside Nigeria have been able to draw from the release of the promised $200 million intervention fund, Oronto said there is need to put the record straight.

 Are they members of Nollywood living in Diaspora or not? We should not create a division in Nollywood, it is not going to be fair. What we should do is to find ways to encourage those who have not accessed the fund to be able to access it. And if there is an obstacle, it has to be removed. While removing those obstacles, the president didn t want to wait. He created this YouWIN platform for the entertainment industry so that people can access funding.

 The fund may not be at large, but there are people who shoot a movie for N10 million, N20million, even people shoot a movie with N5million. The issue now is that the YouWIN fund is here now so as not to stop those talented Nigerian men and women from accessing fund in shooting their movies. We have to encourage every talented Nigerian, every music and movie producer who has a good script to go out there and produce a good product for Nigerians to consume.

Prodded to explain what will happen to the much-talked about $200 million intervention and if it should be forgotten, Oronto replied,  it is not the President s duty to deal with the bottlenecks associated with the release of the fund after making it available, hence the creation of an alternative.

He explained further:  The President s job is to create the platform, to create the environment, if there are obstacles along the way, it is for him to return there and re-do it and that is what he is doing. If the bitterness you are complaining of is not for this moment, we are talking about a new window that has been created, why should we be lamenting over what is bad?