The Federal Government says it is irrevocably committed to growing the creative industry in view of its importance to the economy.
The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the statement while declaring open the African International Film Festival in Lagos on Sunday night.
He said the government recognised the great potential of the industry to grow the country’s Gross Domestic Product, and had been supporting the sector to realise its potential.
Mohammed, who described the creative industry as the next oil, expressed delight that players in the industry had already placed the country on the global map with their great talents.
He said the government was proud of Nollywood and its achievements, and was taking steps to propel the industry to greater heights.
“The Nigerian government is proud of Nollywood and we are engaging stakeholders constantly to grow the sector.
“I will reiterate a few of the initiatives we have pursued to grow the sector.
“We are pursuing single digit interest loans towards infrastructural development in the sector.
“We are supporting about 100 community cinemas evenly spread across the country.
“We are almost closing on a world class pre and post production facility using existing infrastructure.
“We want to ensure that such world class facility is located in each geo-political zone to boost movie productions and other contents.
“Finally, in the area of digital television, we are ensuring that set-up boxes are enabled to allow customers in about 30 million homes to access and buy our movies for the development of the sector,” he said.
Mohammed said the African International Film Festival had contributed to the growth of the sector on the continent by allowing Africans to tell their own stories.
He said the festival had helped practitioners to showcase their talents and also helped in the area of capacity in the sector.
The minister said he and the government identified with the festival in view of its potential to take the movie industry to greater heights.
The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reports that Senator Godswill Akpabio was among prominent personalities present at the opening.
Also, a galaxy of local and international movie stars as well as technical experts and showbiz personalities witnessed the opening.
Earlier, the minister, at a programme organised by the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) tagged “COSON in the Church,’’ said the government was committed to protecting intellectual property in the creative industry.
Mohammed said piracy was a threat to the development of the industry and that government was taking steps to end the menace.
He said that the government had set up a task force to check the activities of people who pirated creative works and the step was yielding results.
“The task force has made a few arrests including the Kingpin of Piracy in Alabama and he is currently facing prosecution.
“We will continue to do more and ensure we deal with the problem,’’ he said.
The minister commended COSON for its efforts at ensuring that artists were paid what was due to them by those who used their works.
Mohammed said this would ensure that the beneficiaries did not labour in vain but reap from their talents.
He said the government would continue to support COSON in its cause to uplift the creative industry, and was was doing its best to attract the much needed investments in the sector.
The President of COSON, Chief Tony Okoroji, said the essence of the programme was to pray for peace in Nigeria and for the country to reach its potential.
Okoroji said Nigeria had everything to be great, saying that with prayers and doing the right thing, the country would attain greatness.
According to him, the creative sector is a major part of the country’s life and will continue to support the country in achieving greatness.
NAN reports that prayers were offered for the progress of the country at the programme, while gospel artistes took turns to entertain guests.