Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has announced plans to institute a health insurance scheme for theatre practitioners in the State.
Governor Sanwo-Olu announced the health insurance scheme during a dinner with veterans in the Yoruba Nollywood industry at the Lagos House Marina on Monday night.
The announcement by Governor Sanwo-Olu was commended by the Nollywood actors and actresses at the event who appreciated the Governor for deeming it fit to take care of the health of the theatre practitioners, especially the veterans in the industry.
It would be recalled that in recent times, theatre practitioners battling various health challenges and lacking funds have had to take to social media to beg Nigerians to foot their medical bills. Some are also living in penury due to their inability to work in old age and health challenges.
Sanwo-Olu, who said he would pay the insurance premium cover for the theatre practitioners, most of whom are aging, said the Nigerian movie industry and practitioners had played key roles in shaping development of Lagos.
He said: “We realise that your industry is one of the highest employers of labour. You have continued to provide succour and means of livelihoods to a lot of citizens quietly. More importantly, you give freshness to our lives through your stories. There is always a lesson and information to learn from the experiences you paint in your works. You fill in the creative space of our society and project good values about our culture, way of life and race.
“It is interesting to see your industry grow, even without enough support. You are able to stand and build names around the industry. As a Government, some of the interventions we have brought forward to assist your industry are not out of place; it is your right and entitlement which makes the Government to look back in assistance to further shape our society for greater good.
“To further enhance our intervention, we are going to initiate an insurance scheme to assist the Nollywood and give the practitioners free access to health care in public health facilities. This scheme will be specially categorised for professionals in the film business. This is yet another token of what the Government can offer those who have shaped our society. The insurance scheme would come in handy for practitioners who cannot afford medical expenses and prevent them from seeking assistance in an embarrassing manner.”
The Governor said his administration would continue to contribute required resources to the entertainment and creative industry to make life easy for the theatre practitioners. He also pledged to provide additional intervention funds for those in the Nollywood industry.
Sanwo-Olu, in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown, approved a N1 billion intervention fund for the film industry. The intervention was as a single-digit soft loan initiated to cushion the effect of the pandemic, among other incentives, for the creative and entertainment industry.
The fund has been accessed by many practitioners in Nollywood, who used the grant to fund for movie production. The additional support, Sanwo-Olu promised, will boost the creativity and innovation in the sector.
The Governor commended the efforts of Nollywood Actress, Mrs. Foluke Daramola-Salako, who operates an Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Passion Again Rape and Abuse in Africa, which is seeing to the wellbeing of veterans in the industry. Sanwo-Olu said his administration would continue to reach out to the movie legends through the platform.
“This is a new beginning of the journey that will further strengthen Nollywood; we are going to be interacting more with every layer in the industry and provide opportunities where necessary. We want to be a partner in bringing this noble industry out for more growth and celebrate the industry veterans while they are alive,” Sanwo-Olu said.
Speaking earlier, some of the theatre practitioners at the event, including, Adebayo Salami, a.k.a Oga Bello, Jide Kosoko, Adewale Elesho, Idowu Phillips, a.k.a Iya Rainbow and Mahmoud Alli-Balogun, commended the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration for carrying out people-oriented programmes and projects which according to them are people-oriented qualify him for a second term in office.
The theatre practitioners during the event unanimously endorsed Governor Sanwo-Olu for second term and promised to work for his victory in the 2023 governorship election in Lagos State.
They also expressed their support for the candidature of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who, according to them, has done a lot for theatre practitioners.
The dinner was attended by over 100 Yoruba theatre practitioners, directors, producers and marketers, among which are Tade Ogidan, Lere Paimo, Fausat Balogun, Iyabo Ogunsola, Yomi Fash-Lanso, Charles Olumo, Saidi Balogun, Toyin Adegbola, Taiwo Hassan, Damola Olatunji, Bimbo Akintola and Eniola Badmus, among others.