By Emeka Anokwuru
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) and the Bank of Industry (BoI), which makes available 300 million Naira loan for stakeholders in the creative industry, will create 200,000 jobs in the sector.
The Minister said this in Abuja when the Director General of the Council, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, presented to him the MoU, which was signed earlier in the day.
“I have been reliably informed that top on the list of the benefits that will accrue from this landmark agreement is that it will create over 200,000 jobs for the sector. This is epochal, and it is in line with one of the cardinal programmes of this administration, which is job creation and empowerment.
‘’The MoU will also act as a catalyst for the development of the country’s craft industries, create a financing window and make available loanable funds to be accessed by all NCAC stakeholders, as well as assist the stakeholders in capacity building,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said the document will equally enhance the capacity of producers of cultural products and services to work towards attaining the standard of modern practice in the packaging of their cultural products, to enable them compete favourably at the global markets and earn the nation’s artists a decent living.
The minister commended Otunba Runsewe for putting together ‘’this momentous event’’ just a few days after assuming office as the NCAC Director General, and also thanked the acting Managing Director of BoI, Mr Waheed Olagunju, for his support for the Creative Industry.
“As you may all be aware, one of the factors militating against the promotion of the Nigerian creative industries has been lack of access to funding for the Artists to develop their creative works as well as weak access to international markets, due to poor packaging and standard. I am therefore happy to say that with the signing of this MoU, Nigerian Artists can heave a sigh of relief,” he said.
In his remarks, Otunba Runsewe described the MoU as a milestone in the creative sector, being the first time in history that the sector will access funds from a financial institution with a single digit interest rate.
“Today, we have come to make a history-making presentation to the Honourable Minister. Today happens to be a day that will create a change and we are going to tell our story the way it should have been told some few years ago,” he said.
The Director General acknowledged the leadership role of the Minister, particularly in leveraging on the unique potential of the Creative Industry to drive the diversification of the economy away from oil.
The Minister used the occasion to decorate some journalists with a special pin with the inscription: “Our Culture, Our Pride”, as part of a conscious strategy to mobilise the media to promote the nation’s Creative Industry.