Creative Arts, Tourism: Alternative To Crude Oil – Mohammed | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Creative Arts, Tourism: Alternative To Crude Oil – Mohammed

Posted: Apr 23, 2016 at 4:46 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Yemi Adebisi

Going by the scheme and strategic plans publicly declared recently by the ministry of information and culture, under the leadership of the new minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, there seems to be hope for all Nigerians through the works of art.
Objectively, creation of jobs for millions of Nigerian graduates has therefore emerged as the primary motives of the ministry through the timeless creative talents, perpetually abandoned or mismanaged by past leaders and players of the industry.
In his recent inaugural meeting with Nigerian culture and tourism writers in Lagos, Lai Mohammed, a seasoned jurist and former National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), stressed the need for Nigerians to explore other sources of revenue to revamp the economy other than the crude oil.
“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,” he said.
If properly embraced and managed as he envisaged, the Nigerian creative arts, which was described as one of the best in the universe, under his proactive supervision, would soon become the life wire of Nigerian economy.
“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, thus keeping our people meaningfully engaged, it will also become money spinners for the economy and stem the rural-urban migration. We are not re-inventing the wheel, since the creative industry has always been with us. What we are doing is to breathe life into the industry and allow it to become a major player in national development.”
The ministry also plans to do intensive training for tourism and arts managers to repackage most of the dying cultural festivals and other creative activities within the country and in the Diaspora.
Mohammed maintained that his cabinet would consider the use of culture to drive tourism sector with the aim of boosting the image of the country abroad including its exclusive goal to sustain its economic masterpiece.
“We are aware that culture drives tourism, hence we intend to leverage heavily on our numerous cultural festivals in our efforts to boost tourist arrivals. That is why we are currently compiling a list of the top 10 creative arts and cultural festivals in each state of the federation, with a view to creating a year-round calendar of such events. This way, those willing to attend such events can plan ahead.”
In order to address some of these issues and  set out agenda for plausible cultural year, the minister announced the commencement of a National Summit on Culture and Tourism, scheduled for April 27 to 29 2016 in Abuja, with a view to charting the path forward.
It would be recalled that such gathering in the past added little or no value to both the economic and cultural status of the country. Therefore, to prevent a reoccurrence of such failed agenda, the minister said all hands are on deck to convene experts with positive minds and genuine commitment to excellence from all walks of life to the summit.
Speaking on behalf of the Arts and Culture Writers Association of Nigeria, Ozolua Uhakheme drew the attention of the minister to the futile effort of the National Council of Arts and Culture (NCCA) to manage the Skill Appreciation Developers all over the country. He said since the primary goal of the administration is to diversify the economy, the ministry should revive these centres which according to him, “are almost dead nationwide.”
He also advised the minister to revive the media foundation to support the practicing journalists in various media houses that suffer from irregular salary payment.
He equally lamented over the current status of the National Theatre which has suffered from threat of being offered for sale or otherwise by various government.
On behalf of the tourism writers, Andrew Okungowa, said the ministry should endeavour to keep its promises to drive the country’s economy with tourism, described as the largest employer of labour. He advised the government to design a tourism product that will have an endless life span if carefully planned.
The minister promised to look into these issues and treat accordingly with the sole aim of moving the country forward.