By Longtong Ibrahim
Kaduna (Nigeria) – Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has reiterated the Federal Government commitment in working hard to bring the culture and tourism sectors into the mainstream of the nation’s economy.
The Minister also said, the sectors are among those that have been identified as key to the government’s economic diversification programme.
A statement by the Special Assistant to the Minister, Segun Adeyemi noted that the Minister made this known on Sunday at a meeting with Arts, Culture and Tourism Correspondents in Lagos, South-west Nigeria.
It quoted the Lai Mohammed to have said, “As you are very much aware, this Administration is diversifying the economy away from oil, which for many years has been the mainstay of our economy. Among the sectors that have been identified as veritable sources of revenue for the nation are the Arts, Culture and Tourism Sectors.
”This is why we in the Ministry of Information and Culture are working hard to move these sectors from the margins to the mainstream, and ensure that the rural poor in particular are factored into the Sector’s architecture.”
According to Mohammed, special attention will be paid to the capacity building of culture and tourism managers in a deliberate effort to revive the nation’s creative arts, boost tourism and create employment for Nigerians, particularly the rural dwellers.
“Working with various local and international partners, including the Tony Elumelu Foundation and the British Council, we are mapping our creative arts, by which we mean pottery, weaving, dyeing, sculpturing, etc, with a view to reviving them massively through capacity building for those involved and the provision of loans.
“We believe this will not only create hundreds of thousands of jobs, but
keeping our people meaningfully engaged – it will also become money spinners for the economy and stem the rural-urban migration,” he said.
He also identified the non-involvement of local communities in the tourism and culture architecture as one of the banes of the sector and promised to reverse the trend through the training of the locals on specific skills that will enable them to participate actively in the tourism and culture economy; adding that, a multi-sectoral approach is critical in order to address the multifaceted challenges facing the sectors, while giving an assurance that the present Administration has mustered the political will to tackle those challenges.
“We are not naive enough to believe that repositioning these critical sectors will be a walk in the park. We do know, for example, that tourism is a multi-sectoral issue that involves easier access to visas, provision of necessary infrastructure like roads, adequate security, etc. This is why we have decided to call a National Summit on Culture and Tourism, which is scheduled for April 27th – 29th, 2016 in Abuja, with a view to charting the path forward.
”We are aware that similar efforts have been made in the past, without an appreciable result. The difference this time is our commitment and the different milieu provided by the national imperative to diversify the economy, amidst the crash in the price of oil,” the Minister said.
Mohammed however solicited the support and cooperation of the media to achieve the goal of repositioning the tourism and culture sectors into the main pillars of the nation’s economy.