Jimi Solanke, veteran Nigerian actor cum poet, says the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has revealed the challenges facing many Nigerian artistes.
In an interview, the 77-year-old songwriter said the COVID-19 has shown that only few Nigerian artistes can truly feed themselves.
“The appearance of this coronavirus has really proven that the artists of this nation are in big trouble. Very few can truly feed themselves minus lockdown, now see what is happening. Since l am one of them, l know that there has not been any party or occasion,” he said.
Citing California in the US as an instance, Solanke also spoke on how arts can serve as a significant source of revenue for the country if the federal government gives the sector the needed support.
According to him, the government’s continued neglect of the sector was informed by lack of knowledge on the potentials inherent in arts if properly explored.
“The government has no interest in the arts. Why? Because they do not know the importance of the arts,” he said.
“Go to the state of California, arts used to dominate their IGR. Only a few years ago Silicon Valley started adding its inputs. Let our government put the package for the care of artists on the front burner and they will soon discover that ‘art is the next best alternative to oil.”
Ahead of his 78th birthday in July, Solanke described his journey in life so far as amazing, adding that he has nothing to regret so far.
“Yes, 77 going on 78? I am not counting at all, I believe I still have much to do. There was never a step l took that l will not take again if l have the ‘chance’ to repeat life one more time. You are there already, why regret? I will never sit down to sing dirges of regret over my life,” he said.
Solanke’s comment comes days after the Professional Disc Jockeys Association of Nigeria (PDJAN) had lamented the impact of the novel disease on its members, noting that some of them are dying of hunger.