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N3bn grant causes stir in movie industry

22 July 2013, 16:40

Abuja - The Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) appeared divided over the N3 billion grant by the Federal Government to assist the movie industry in the country.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the state chairmen of the guild met in Abuja on July 18 on the modalities to adopt in disbursing the grants.

The National Chairman and Secretary of the guild, Messrs. Agility Onwurah and Samuel Onibiyo, however, in separate interviews with NAN, accused some practitioners of wanting to divert the grant.

Onwurah accused some known movie producers of making moves to divert the grant for their use while leaving the upcoming artists behind.

He said some were making surreptitious move of getting the money all alone, and that portended a great danger for those who are coming up.”

"While practitioners suffered lack of funds and humiliation in the quest of producing films, some people were working to ensure that the guild remained static,” he alleged.

He said that the chairmen had resolved that the grant be used on production and distribution of movies.

The national chairman said they had paid a visit to the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) and briefed them on the moves by some reputable producers trying to divert the grants for their use.

He said that the board had assured of its timely intervention in the crisis, adding that the crisis would soon be resolved.

Onibiyo, in his reaction, berated the conduct of those he described as “star actors” who he alleged wanted to use the fund for their schools.

He said the demand, if granted, would send the industry to the backstage, adding that those practitioners, who were already established, should not be allowed to take over the grant.

NAN gathered that Stephanie Okereke was one of the practitioners fingered in the alleged grant controversy..

But when NAN contacted Okereke, she debunked the allegation, describing it as baseless and unfounded.

She said that the grant was broken into three stages; production, distribution and training.

She directed the leadership of the guild to the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on the modalities earlier agreed on the grant.

She said that some people had written to the minister stating that they no longer needed the money while some were working to ensure that the grant reached the intended practitioners.

She called on practitioners not to tear the industry apart, while threatening to sue anyone who made unsubstantiated allegation against her.

 - NAN


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