With what looked like a vein movement in May 2014, when a group of Imo artistes threatened to stop the carnival if they were not recognized and negotiated with, the artistes kept faith with their struggles to see it yield N1,990000 five months later.
Although many have complained that the money is small compared to what indigenous artistes receive in other states, another group say it is a huge step for the agitation of Imo artistes towards being recognized by the government in state’s events.
It will be recalled that the artistes on Sunday, October 5, 2014 halted the carnival at Owerri City School until His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the executive governor of the Imo State came to the rescue with an unplanned competition that saw him release N1.7m. [N1m to winner, N500,000 to runners-up and N250,000 to second runners-up], and the monies were presented to the winners X-Busta, Acharaman and Still Bill respectively whom the governor urged to release 20% to comedians and dancers that also performed in-between the contest.
With another N240,000 released to compensate artistes who performed on Saturday, October 4, 2014, the money moved up to N1,990,000, an addition that nearly caused artistes to go on a second protest on the ground that more than that was supposed to have been given to them. The artistes later conceding to the argument that they never had any agreement with the organizers on how much they will be paid.
There have also been speculations that more than N240,000 was released for Saturday’s performance, owing to the fact that N6,000,000 was used to settle artiste who performed at the pre-carnival event where those who composed songs for the governor or the state were given N100,000 each.
An artistes who spoke under anonymity hailed the artistes for their courage to speak up, urging the government to do more if they really want the artistes to support their programmes.
“They have tried and we can take it to be the starting point, but the government must improve on the way they appreciate artistes if we must have something to show that Imo State is really better other states.
Another thing is the speculations that artistes were compensated with less than 20% of the total money they were supposed to get. Should this be true, it will be a very crime against Imo artistes and the perpetrators must be handed the justice they deserve. If the governor cannot do it, the street will do it and we will do everything possible to get to the end of it” He said.
The artistes also urged the governor to fulfil his promise of appointing someone to be in-charge of the artistes in his cabinet as soon as possible to mend the disconnect which has existed between artistes and government for more than a decade in the state.