Lagos State Governor Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Wednesday met virtually with members of the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria, CEAN and other key stakeholders in the Nigerian film industry.
At the meeting were Moses Babatope, Mo Abudu, Omoni Oboli and others.
Sanwo-Olu reiterated his administration’s commitment to work collaboratively with the creative industry, saying that his government would do all that was possible to ensure that the sector thrived in the State.
He said government was mindful of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown on the entertainment industry, particularly the cinema sector, promising to work with the association to achieve a win-win situation.
Representatives of CEAN during the meeting, expressed concerns about their sector, appealing to Sanwo-Olu to reopen the cinemas and open up the sector for business.
They promised to adhere strictly to the laid down COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Speaking on behalf of the association, Mr. Moses Babatope said the cinema owners were ready to reopen.
He said: “we are ready to open our cinemas any time today or tomorrow. Cinemas outside Lagos are already open and they are complying with all the necessary protocols. We understand that your office is being careful about health and safety of Lagosians but we also assure you that these are top considerations for us too.”
The association also requested that the governor set up a film office whose function would include liaising with foreign investors while also serving as a major hub for the film industry in Lagos.
A film maker and one of the participants at the meeting, Omoni Oboli appealed to Sanwo-Olu for tax waivers, saying that no one in the film industry had earned a revenue in the past six months.
“Mr. Governor, we want you to help us with some tax break. As you may be aware sir, none of us has earned any revenue in the past six months. We want you to use your good office to help our industry.”
Responding, Sanwo-Olu assured the film industry experts that he would ensure that government continued to protect their interest, saying he is a new convert having seen the level of creativity and economic importance of the sector.
He said: “we would work collaboratively with your industry. I am aware of the enormous challenges you face especially in this period of COVID-19 pandemic. But as you know, we have to do what is right to protect the lives and property of millions of Lagosians.”
Sanwo-Olu promised to look into all the requests made and return to them in due course.
Filmmaker and television host, Mosunmola Abudu, popularly called Mo Abudu moderated the meeting.