Tourism, culture are best economic stimulants – Minister

Solomon Chung, Abuja

As the Nigeria National Summit on Culture and Tourism kicks-off today, Wednesday in Abuja, the country’s capital city, the country’s Information Minister, Lai Mohammed has said that the two sectors are among those whose potentials are being harnessed as the country to diversify her economy away from oil.
According to Mohammed, creative industries alone offer incredible opportunities in terms of job creation, stability in the polity, moving millions of people out of poverty, addressing the issue of crime, stopping rural-urban migration and creating a local economy.
He stated this during the 2016 British Council Conference and Expo in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.
He said in an effort to boost the potentials of the industry, the Ministry was working in collaboration with the British Council, as well as the Tony Elumelu Foundation, to scour many parts of the country to identify peculiar creative industries in the various areas.
“Once that is done, we will – together with our partners – launch a massive capacity building programme with a view to training and re-training all those involved in this industry. We will engage the services of resource persons who will carry out research into long-forgotten creative arts as well as train our rural women and youth in particular. We also intend to revive our local crafts and trade centres, equip them with modern tools and make the creative industries more attractive.”
He said they have strategized on how to utilize the markets’ potentials in diverse ways for the benefit of all.
“We are also looking into adding value to existing creative works. For example, we want those engaged in pottery to not only make pots for cooking but also for decorative purposes. This will enable us to create markets locally and abroad for these products through promotion fairs, road shows, etc in major cities of the federation as well as in major international markets.”
The Minister pledged to give Nigerian cultural festivals an international outlook and standard that would eventually attract people from all over the world.
He submitted that since the creative industry also goes beyond just works of art to cover festivals; the government and relevant partners will work to train festival managers in order to bring them at par with their counterparts elsewhere in the world, including those who organise the popular Brazil Carnivals in Rio and Copacabana as well as the Edinburgh festivals. “In this regard, we are calling on the private sector to partner with us to sponsor, in a more holistic manner, our arts and festivals.
We are ready to name our creative centres after corporate sponsors in these areas. This will be a win-win situation for us and our partners in the private sector, who will enhance the visibility of their products and services.”
 It is also worthy to note that the Nigerian film industry, also known as  Nollywood has made a significant impact by providing opportunities for investment, wealth creation, economic empowerment and employment in the sector with a potential annual revenue base of more than N500 billion.
As part of efforts to better position Nollywood to attract massive investment and contribute more to the country’s GDP, the Minister recently set up and inaugurated a ministerial committee on the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON).
“We hope that when this committee concludes its work in a few weeks, it will provide a major boost to Nollywood by fast-tracking the passage into law of the MOPICON bill.”
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The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has also condoled with the management and staff of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the death of the agency’s former Managing Director, Dr. Nwabu Mgbemena.

In a statement issued in Lagos, the Minister paid tribute to Dr. Mgbemena, whom he described as one of the pioneer staff who nurtured the agency to national and international prominence through hard work, dedication and commitment.

He said it was a fitting testimony to his hard work that Dr. Mgbemena, one of the original editors of NAN, rose to become the agency’s second Chief Executive and its first Managing Director, after helping to secure a grade A status for the parastatal.

Mohammed prayed that God  grant repose to the soul of the deceased, and give his family the fortitude to bear the loss.