The Bank of Industry (BOI) has denied reports that it received $200 million Entertainment/Nollywood Fund from the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, for the development of Nigeria’s entertainment industry.
In a statement it issued on Friday, the bank described as untrue a news report calling for the probe of the bank on the premise that the former president had released the money to it, maintaining that the bank never received such money.
According to the statement, “the attention of the bank has been drawn to a news report titled ‘Probe Jonathan’s $200 million Nollywood Fund, Lari Williams tells Buhari’, wherein Mr. Lari alluded to the domiciliation of $200 million with the Bank of Industry Limited for eventual disbursement to artistes who are able to come up with viable business plans.
“BOI would like to state for the records that it is not managing any $200 million Entertainment/Nollywood Fund and at no time did the bank receive any such fund from the government for the Entertainment/Nollywood sector.
“This publication became necessary as some practitioners in the creative industry believe that BOI is in receipt of $200 million Entertainment/Nollywood Fund.
“Due to the commercial potential of the entertainment industry in Nigeria, the bank has been making investments in the industry from its own resources since 2011. It has provided financial and advisory support to the following sub-sectors of the industry: movie production, cinemas, amusement/theme parks production studios, etc.
“Recently, the bank launched the NollyFund with a fund size of N1.0 billion to support movie production and distribution.
“Based on the foregoing, we hereby state unequivocally that the Bank of Industry Limited is not in custody of $200 million meant for the Entertainment/Nollywood sector,” the statement read.
It would be recalled that ex-President Jonathan had promised the entertainers the amount in 2011 while seeking election. He won the election, but since then, there had been accusations, counter-accusations and speculation as to the amount and where it was lodged.
At a point, the Federal Government, under Jonathan, claimed the amount had been released to the BoI for disbursement to stakeholders in the sector who could come up with good business plans.
The issue was re-visited again prior to the 2015 elections and the former President said during campaigns for re-election that this was one of his achievements in the entertainment sector.
The refusal of the BoI to release the fund had caused some friction with some of the stakeholders in the entertainment sector demanding for a probe of whereabouts of the fund.