Minister lauds bright economic future of Nigeria

By Solomon Chung, Lagos

Nigeria's Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed addressing participants at the 2016 World Tourism Day celebration at Eko Atlantic New city in Lagos on Tuesday.

Nigeria’s future is bright despite the current economic recession, especially as it diversifies the economy away from oil.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed made this remark at a ceremony  to mark the 2016 World Tourism Day in Eko Atlantic New city in Lagos on Tuesday.

Mohammed said that there was no better testimony to Nigeria’s bright economic future than the new city.

”It takes an investor to have a great confidence in any economy before putting hundreds of millions of dollars into a city like this.

Those who can see the bright stars in our horizon, beyond this temporary cloud of difficulties, are investing in the country as we speak,” he stated.

According to him, the government works day and night to pull Nigeria out of recession and put the economy on the path of sustainable growth.

”It is becoming increasingly clear, like President Muhammadu Buhari has admonished that we must think out of the box.

”We must find other sustainable means of earning foreign exchange outside oil to grow our Gross Domestic Product and create jobs for our people. Agriculture and mining are viable options but tourism is the low hanging fruit in this regard, and we must not hesitate to pluck it,’’ the minister explained.

Eko Atlantic City
Mohammed said that the choice of Eko Atlantic City as the venue of the 2016 World Tourism Day celebration was significant.

”While I will like to reiterate Nigeria’s readiness to explore and exploit tourism for the benefit of its economy, I can confidently add that Eko Atlantic City has what it takes to drive tourism in Nigeria. And this is just as well, because while the role of the government will be to provide the enabling environment, the private sector will drive the growth of tourism.

”The city will boast of 450,000 residents and 300,000 commuters (daily), which is a gain for the myriad of businesses to be located in the city. In addition, it will have a registered Free Economic Zone to encourage economic activities. With the largest shopping in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is sure a tourist attraction,” he further said.

Relaxation spots
”Nigerians who are looking for relaxation spots and exquisite shopping malls will no longer need to jet to Dubai and similar destinations, because Eko Atlantic City will be a better destination than Dubai,”
Mohammed stressed.

Quoting the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, who said everyone has the right to access leisure and tourism services on an equal basis, the Minister also explained that the new city would not discriminate against the aged and the physically challenged.

Massive investment
Mohammed appealed to investors to cash in on government’s massive investment in infrastructural development, to help turn the country’s numerous tourist sites to tourist attractions.

The management of Eko Atlantic made a video presentation of the budding city to the Minister, the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Idiat Oluranti Adebule (who stood in for Governor Akinwunmi Ambode), their entourage and the media, after which they were all taken on a guided tour of the city, whose first resident is due to move in next month.

The Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwumi Ambode said that in the era of economic recession, the best thing to do was to pay attention to economic diversification.

“This strategic decision of diversification will enhance the prospect of generating revenue from various channels for economic growth and development,’’ he stated.

World Tourism Day is held on September 27 yearly, to foster awareness on the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic impact.

Mercy Chukwudiebere