Abuja (Nigeria) – Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said the creative industry as well as culture has a great role to play in the ongoing diversification of Nigeria’s economy especially at a time of dwindling earnings from crude oil.
Receiving the British Council Country Director, Connie Price, in his office on Monday in Abuja, the Minister said the Federal Government would not restrict its efforts at diversifying the economy to agriculture and solid minerals.
“This government, even before knowing that the price of crude oil was going to plummet to about $38 per barrel, had promised Nigerians during its campaign that it is going to diversify the economy. Diversification of our economy is not just limited to agriculture or solid minerals or even the real sector. I think one area where we need capital investment is in the area of culture because this abounds everywhere.
”But our biggest challenge so far is how do we harness this abundant cultural heritage and create an economy out of it? There is virtually no state in Nigeria today that cannot boast of 3, 4 or 5 cultural industries, either pottery, painting, textile making or leather works,” he said.
Mohammed identified inadequate knowledge and the capacity to translate the nation’s abundant cultural heritage into a viable economy as the bane of the sector, and therefore sought the assistance of the British Council to support his ministry to surmount the challenges. “This is one area I believe you can assist us either in the area of capacity building or in the area of infrastructure. But more importantly in the area of organizing how these things work in a cooperative manner,” he noted.
The Minister also sought the support of the British Council in assisting the agencies under his ministry to rediscover their capacity and revive the cultural industry as a major source of revenue for the nation.
He expressed optimism that through the culture and the creative industry, women could be empowered to acquire skills that would enable them explore the industry and be economically independent.
The British Council Country Director Connie Price in a remark said the diversification of the economy had been a huge challenge in Britain because of the country’s over-reliance on industries.
“People might not realize this but this has been an issue in the UK until very recently, particularly in the North of our country where many cities have been dependent on industries and the industries have now gone and we have empty factories,” she said.
She said her country had now turned its thinking away from mono-economic dependence by
giving vent to its culture and creative industries, which were now bringing billions of pounds into the British economy.
According to her, initially Britain witnessed a crisis of management in its cultural institutions because of their orientation as agencies of state that relied solely on state funding, but noted that through the diversification of the economy, the agencies had been re-orientated to think creatively in order to earn revenue instead of depending on government.
She expressed satisfaction with the determination of the Minister to use the culture and creative industry to empower women, saying the British Council was extremely committed to supporting women empowerment.