The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has reiterated the commitment of the Ministry to bring the Culture and Tourism Sector into the mainstream of the economy, in line with the overall goal of the Administration to diversify the economy and create jobs.
Lai stated this in Abuja on Thursday, during the oversight visit to the Ministry of Information and Culture by the Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism.
He said with the instability in the prices of commodities, many countries are now diversifying their economies, having realized the futility of total dependence on commodities as foreign exchange earners.
Alhaji Mohammed said as part of the efforts to re-position the sector, the Ministry has kick-started new initiatives and different dynamics in order to create a new vista of opportunities, adding: ”After meeting stakeholders in the sector, we convened a National Summit on Culture and Tourism in which all the critical sub-sectors engaged in a meaningful dialogue. We then followed up by setting up an Implementation Committee which has since submitted a draft report, the implementation of which has already begun.
”The review of the Tourism Master Plan and the resuscitation of the Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT), both of which we are in the process of implementing, are some of the committee’s recommendations. As a matter of fact, only yesterday (Wednesday), I inaugurated the Technical Committee on the Review of National Tourism Development Master Plan.”
The Minister said against the background of the need to develop new partnerships and synergies based on concrete mutual understanding and cooperation, ”we decided to revitalize Nigeria’s long-standing membership of the global body on tourism, the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). That decision has proven to be prescient, as the UN agency has offered to assist us in key areas, such as the review of the Tourism Master Plan and the resuscitation of the PCT,”
He announced that starting from the 5th of December 2016, the Ministry will be hosting a sectoral support mission from the UNWTO.
Alhaji Mohammed also disclosed that in order to build capacity in the sector, promote entrepreneurship and private sector economic development in the Creative Industry, facilitate the mapping of the Creative Industry, and support the efficient delivery of the Abuja Carnival, among others, the Ministry has signed two MoUs with the Tony Elumelu Foundation and the British Council
On the Culture sub-sector, he said since culture drives tourism, it is important to have a vibrant Culture sub-sector, adding: ”This explains why we have also been working very hard in the past one year to strengthen the sub-sector. Specifically, we are working with the relevant states to revive some festivals that have grown moribund in recent years, such as the Argungun Festival and The Durbar, and to create a time-table of festivals across the country for the benefit of tourists.
”We have also been, as much as our schedule permits, increasing our visibility at the various festivals across the country, with a view to encouraging the organizers. We have also widened our horizon on the external front. In August, we actively participated at the Edinburgh International Cultural Festival and got a great insight into what our own festivals can be. There is no doubt that our participation at the Policy Round Table on Cultural Heritage and Tourism and on the Digital Platform at the Edinburgh Festival will further strengthen the strategic objectives of our Ministry.”
He said in order to provide the enabling environment for Nollywood, the Ministry is supporting the burgeoning industry by creating the necessary regulatory environment, disclosing that the report of the review committee on the draft bill for the establishment of the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON) was submitted to him by the committee last Monday,
On the music industry, Alhaji Mohammed said the Ministry partnered with the organizers of the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) earlier this month to ensure the success of the 2016 edition, and that he participated in the AFRIMA Round Table that explored the role of music in championing social justice and advocacy.
He also disclosed that the Lagos State Government has acceded to the Ministry’s request to help redesign and modernize the National Museum in Lagos into world-class historical hub and tourist site.
The Minister told the Committee that the late release of the 2016 budget, the burdensome procurement processes and some legal issues couldn’t allow the ministry to attain optimal performance in the budget implementation.
While seeking the support of the Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, the Minister assured that ”we will continue to build on the dynamism that we have evolved in the past year,”
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Mathew Urhoghide, said the oversight visit by the Committee is to monitor the performance of the 2016 budget and identify areas of challenges, which will form the basis of support for the 2017 budget.
Senator Urhoghide disclosed that the National Assembly will soon incorporate Tourism in the nomenclature of the Ministry because of the huge importance of the sector to the nation’s economy.
“This is the aspect we are looking at as parliament, as a Senate, and we believe too it’s going to add value, particularly in our quest to improve on our revenue base in Nigeria. Tourism sector is a latent area that we believe that the country will drive a lot of revenue from,” he said, stressing the need to put in place the necessary legislative framework to adequately harness culture and tourism into a viable economy