We Will Make Culture, Tourism Bedrock of Nigeria’s Economy – Mohammed

Dignitaries at the just concluded National Summit on Culture and Tourism held in Abuja from April 27th-29th, 2016.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said that the ministry would make culture and tourism the bedrock of the Nigeria’s economy.

The minister made this known recently at the gala night of the 2016 National Summit on Culture and Tourism in Abuja.

“In this summit, we have brought together all the people that can make the culture and tourism industry work.

“We have stakeholders from both the public and private sectors that are well grounded in culture and tourism.

“What we want to do is to let the world know that the culture and tourism portfolio is as attractive as Ministry of Petroleum Resources,” he said.

The minister advised members of staff of the ministry and its agencies not to feel rejected given the current government establishments’ structure.

He gave assurance that the sector would be made money-spinner for government and the pride among establishments for public and civil servants.

Earlier in a welcome address, Ayotunde Adesugba, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry said the gathering would design ways culture and tourism would impact on other sectors.

“The summit will highlight the critical sectors of culture and tourism with a view to create job opportunities, and improve other sectors like agriculture, transport and manufacturing.

“Culture and tourism have become dominant sectors in many countries around the world and the drivers of their economies.

“Nigeria must take the advantages of its rich, diverse and abundant culture and tourism potentials,” she said.

Adesugba thanked participants and delegates to the conference and urged them to contribute their best to make culture and tourism the bedrocks of the Nigerian economy.

The gala night featured performances by the National Dance Troupe, which showcased the nation’s diverse and rich cultural heritage in dances.

There was also an exhibition of artefacts, artistic and intellectual works which were inspected by the minister.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed is now kicking himself now that he knew that the summit that he dissipated so much energy, time and money on would not be implemented after all.

The reason according to experts is the victory of Lagos State Government over the Federal Government on Friday 19th of July 2013.

Six papers were presented at the Summit, namely “Culture in a Diversified Economy” presented by Mr. Frank Aig-Imoukhuede; “Tourism in a Diversified Economy” presented by H.E. Mr. Donald Duke, former Governor of Cross River State and “Tourism in a Diversified Economy” presented by Chief Tomi Akingbogun, President of Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria [FTAN].

Others are, “Culture in a Diversified Economy” presented by Professor Sule Bello, ABU Zaria ; “Developing Data Bank in the Culture and Tourism Industry” presented by National Bureau of Statistics; and “Private Sector Perspective of Nigerian Culture and Tourism” presented by Bolanle Austen-Peters of Terra Kulture.

At the end of very exhaustive deliberations, the following observations and recommendations were considered and adopted: That Culture and Tourism sector is a big industry; it cuts across many sectors, namely; agriculture, business, transportation, health, sports, aviation, information, technology, architecture among others.

It is arguably the biggest means of economic growth. Nigeria cannot afford to ignore the sector while other Nations are reaping the immense socio-economic benefits derivable from this global vibrant sector.

For consistency and continuity in government policies at all levels are non-negotiable to develop the sector. To this end, Nigeria should muster the political will to accord the sector preferred status to effectively develop it.

To create positive image for our national buildings, corporate offices and edifices, there is need to adorn them with Nigerian artworks. The interior and exterior decorations of private and public corporate offices of our political leaders, chief executives, and Nigerian missions abroad should make strong cultural statements. The Presidency should lead the way by ensuring that the furniture in the President’s office, etc., are designed by our master carvers, painters and other artists.

There is the need for Nigerian cultural icons, both living and dead, to be celebrated so as to inspire the younger generations to strive hard for excellence; and the change mantra of the Federal Government can only succeed if the culture and tourism sector provides the fulcrum to drive it. Community theatre projects, musical concerts and visual designs are very effective tools for re-orientating the citizenry from bottom-up.

The summit also agreed that there is need to imbibe the culture of research and documentation, to have records and statistical data readily available on the sector to aid planning. In this regard, it is necessary to make genuine, urgent and integrated efforts for the production of credible culture and tourism statistics and Tourism Satellite Account [TSA].

The government should engage stakeholders in concluding the nationwide Mapping of Creative Industries whose pilot was conducted by the British Council, National Bureau of Statistics [NBS [and Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists [SONTA] in 2013.

That the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria [MOPICON] and Theatre Arts Regulatory Council bills need to be harmonized into one bill, which government could present to the National Assembly for timely legislative action. This is in line with the need to urgently regulate the sector and maintain high ethical standards.

The summit also gave more stringent legislation need to be in place to protect national monuments from the growing cases of wilful destruction across the country. Measures should be put in place to protect the nation’s cultural sites during times of conflict by engendering communal ownership of such sites, as well as Museums and indigenous languages/cultural/crafts centres should be made part of requirements for building schools across the country in order to orientate our younger generations on our history and cultural values as part of their education.

A for the promulgation of law to compel Local Government Councils to establish and maintain community museums and craft centres, and fund at least one community festival yearly. This will facilitate the production of a reliable cultural calendar for the country to attract tourists.

There is need for Mr. President to showcase the country’s rich culture through the use of cultural troupes as part of his international engagements. Similarly, Nigerians in the Diaspora should be actively involved in our cultural promotion strategies.

Branding of the Nation is paramount. There is need to revisit the “Good People, Great Nation” project and engage in aggressive advocacy for “Visit Nigeria” on international and social media platforms.

Religious tourism needs to be treated as a viable economic activity, which could contribute to the national economy through taxation. Government must take interest in tracking movements of funds by the Islamic, Christian and traditional religious groups, and that government needs to ensure implementation of the 2010 FEC Memo on “Promoting Nigerian Dress Culture”, which requires civil servants and VIPs to adorn Nigerian dresses on Fridays.

For Nigeria to borrow a leaf from China which has been able to package its fashion and local cuisines, her rich fashion industry and local cuisines could be packaged and marketed to attract international attention and patronage to enhance the country’s foreign exchange earnings and boost its economy.

Revive the Presidential Council on Tourism [PCT], chaired by Mr. President with all the State Governors as members, this should be resuscitated to ginger accelerated development of culture and tourism in the country.

Effective tourism development requires rebranding, and a “National Carrier” to market the country’s cultural products and generate revenue. In this regard, government needs to put in place all the necessary machinery to ensure that Nigeria has a National Carrier to be managed under a “PPP” arrangement, the summit noted.

The communiqué also noted that the ministry does not properly portray Nigeria as a country where culture and tourism is at the front burner of development. It stated that the ministry should be renamed, “Federal Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism”, to adequately reflect its mandate.

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