The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has set up a committee to appraise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the creative industry and advise the Government on the best way to cushion its effect.
The Minister announced the committee comprising key industry players in Abuja on Wednesday during a meeting with officials of the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON).
Members of the committee are comedian, Ali Baba (Chair), theatre and film producer, Bolanle Austen Peters, producer, Charles Novia, actor Segun Arinze and musician, Ali Jita.
The others are film director, Baba Agba, an executive at Film House, Kene Okwuosa and record label owner, Efe Omoregbe.
The remaining members are Prince Daniel Aboki from CoolFM/WaZoBia, founder of movie streaming platform, Envivo, Chioma Ude, TV producer, Olumade Adesemowo, musician Darey Art Alade and representative of BON, Hajia Sa’a Ibrahim.
Anita Eboigbe of the News Agency of Nigeria is the Secretary of the committee with four terms of reference.
They are assessing the expected impact of the pandemic on the creative industry in general and advising Government on how to mitigate job and revenue losses.
The committee with four weeks to complete its assignment will also suggest the taxation and financing model most suitable for the creative industry in this COVID-19 season to encourage growth and suggest additional measures that can be undertaken to support the sector.
Curiously, there was no representative of publishers/writers and the travel/hospitality industry, two key players that have been strident in their calls for support from Government.
There was also no representative from fashion designers, who are making a statement through home-grown designs in protective face masks and coverings.
“We are still expecting the representatives of the Fashion, Publishing, Photography as well as Hospitality and Travel sectors,” Mohammed, who didn’t include visual arts at all in the committee, said.
Earlier while explaining the reason behind the establishment of the committee, the Minister said it was better to address the problems of the creative industry holistically instead of piecemeal for a more positive outcome.
He said, “the Creative Industry is a very critical sector of the nation’s economy and a major plank of the economic diversification policy of this Administration. It creates the highest number of jobs after Agriculture, especially for the youth. Therefore, there is no doubt that we need a collective and government-supported approach in dealing with the immediate, short and long term palliatives and initiatives for the industry, to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on the sector.”
The Minister also announced his approval of the request by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to grant a two-month license fee waiver for terrestrial broadcast stations in the country.
Only days ago, the National President of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) Alhaji Saleh Rabo, lamented the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on the sector and appealed to the Federal Government to include domestic tourism and hospitality businesses and operators in the planned N500 billion Covid-19 intervention fund and other proposed palliative measures.
He said, “the inclusion of Nigeria’s Tourism and Hospitality Industry in the Federal Government’s Covid-19 economic stimulus package and palliative measures, is expedient and justified. Considering the enormous contributions of travel and hospitality sectors to the nation’s overall economic growth and massive employment of labour.”
Players in the publishing sector had made the same request in a joint statement to mark the World Book and Copyright Day on April 23.
“The current pandemic has dealt a huge blow on the industry, and we need Government’s support to get over the negative impact on our activities as we gasp for oxygen to survive. On this note, we urge the Government to consider the book industry in its economic response strategies,” they pleaded.
Recall that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had disclosed on Tuesday that the Federal Government is hoping to inject at least some N2trillion into the economy near term to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.
Any intervention from government to the creative and hospitality industry might well come from the fund.