If everything goes according to plan, the culture and tourism sector in Nigeria will be experiencing a boom in the next four years. The reappointed Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has marshalled out what his ministry intends to achieve during the second tenure of the Buhari presidency.
The minister assured, during a media briefing in Lagos recently with journalists covering the beat that his ministry would conclude and launch the National Policy on Culture, as well as the National Policy on Tourism this time around.
Aside finalising work on the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON) Bill and submitting it to the Federal Executive Council (FEC), which is meant to create a proper regulatory environment for the sub-sector that has put Nigeria’s name on the global map, thus attracting the much-needed investment to the sector, the minister assured that the Endowment Fund for The Arts would be created this tenure to guarantee a legal framework for the financing of the sector.
The National Summit for Culture and Tourism, which was organised by the ministry in April 2016, will now be a yearly affair, according to the minister, starting from the first quarter of 2020.
To catalyse the growth of tourism, it is one of the priorities of the Lai Mohammed-led Ministry of Information and Culture to ensure a regular meeting of the Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT). “We plan at least three meetings a year,” he hinted.
Within the next four years, the ministry intends to kick-start the implementation of parts of the Tourism Masterplan that constitute low-hanging fruits, as well as complete work on the establishment of Tourism Statistics and Tourism Satellite Account (TSA), working with the UNWTO. “We have already signed an agreement with the UNWTO in this regard,” he declared.
In the same vein, it will institute a unified National Celebration of the World Tourism Day, instead of the current situation in which we have multiple celebrations. In May next year, stakeholders in the sector should also be expecting a National Council on Culture and Tourism, which will be repeated every year afterward.
With a view to working with other countries in the West Africa sub-region to foster the development of the sector, Mohammed promised organising a Regional Summit on Culture and Tourism, starting in 2020.
The minister said the visits to tourist sites by his minstry would continue, just as the attendance of many festivals across the country wouldn’t stop. To attract more tourists, domestic and foreign to national events, the Ministry of Information and Culture hopes to finalise work on and launch the National Festival Calendar this year.
Furthermore, it will strive to get more sites in Nigeria inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, nay explore private sector branding of the nation’s cultural centres abroad. He enlisted the support of the journalists covering the beat to support these efforts, though he hinted that his ministry would welcome ideas on areas left out in this briefing.
Mohammed, who thanked the journalists for covering his ministry extensively during his first tenure, debunked the notion that his ministry paid scant attention to the culture and arm of the ministry.
While reviewing the achievements of his ministry during the first tenure of the Buhari administration, which started in May 29, 2015, Mohammed, said, “Within six months of assuming office (in November 2015), we decided to invite all stakeholders to a meeting, tagged the National Summit on Culture and Tourism, in April 2016 in Abuja, with a view to charting a new path for the nation’s Creative Industry.
“At the end of the summit, we set up an Implementation Committee to carry out the recommendations of the summit. The review of our Tourism Masterplan, resuscitation of the Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT) and the setting up a Task Force on the Creative Industry are some of the outcomes of the summit.
“We followed up that summit by organising two other meetings to fast-track the main objective of transforming the Creative Industry which I have regularly described as Nigeria’s ‘new oil’. First, we convened a Roundtable in Lagos that provided stakeholders the platform to engage in business-focused discussions, with a view to initiating and enabling private-sector-led growth and development of the Industry. Then we held the Creative Industry Financing Conference to articulate ways to source funding for the Creative Industry.
“Both meetings paid off handsomely. After I led a team of stakeholders to the Inspector-General of Police, the force set up anti-piracy units in all its 36 formations and the FCT, leading to many joint raids and seizure of pirated works, with the National Film and Video Censors Board, We haven’t eradicated piracy, but we have shown the political will to tackle the menace.
“Another fallout of the meetings is the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI) of the Central Bank of Nigeria to improve access to long-term, low-cost financing for entrepreneurs and investors in the Creative Industry and the Information Technology Sectors. Under this Initiative, you can get a loan ranging from 3 million Naira to 500 million Naira for movie production, movie distribution, fashion, music, etcetera.
“Remember, gentlemen, that this happened after I also led a team of stakeholders to meet with the CBN, upon the recommendation of the Creative Industry Financing Conference. Same applies to the granting of the Pioneer Status, by the Federal Government, to the Creative Industry Sector to boost investment in the sector. It was one of the recommendations from the Creative Industry Financing Conference.
“We also decided to engage in partnerships to fast-track the growth of the industry by signing MoUs with the Tony Elumelu Foundation and the British Council. Under the latter, we trained over 100 Festival Managers in Lagos, Abuja and Accra. The next phase in the implementation of the MoU is the mapping of the Creative Industry.
“Of course, you are aware that when we came on board, Nigeria was just a member of the UNWTO in name. We decided to re-engage fully with the organisation, and our efforts paid off richly. First, we were awarded the hosting right of the 61st UNWTO CAF Meeting, which I talked about earlier, and Nigeria was elected as Vice President, Africa, at the 22nd General Assembly of the organization in China.
“As part of efforts to attract attention and infrastructural development to tourist sites, we visited a number of such sites across the country, just as we also attended many festivals. First, we showcased the Eko Atlantic City during the 2016 World Tourism Day and the 2018 hosting of the 61st UNWTO CAF Meeting. Then we visited tourists sites that include Owu Water Falls in Kwara; Rock Painting in Birnin Kudu, Jigawa State; Durbar in Dutse, Jigawa; Calabar Carnival in Cross River State; Puus Kaat Festival in Mangu, Plateau, and Ijakadi Festival in Kwara State.
“In the same vein, we made sure to attend the premieres of many movies across the country in a show of support for the efforts of our brilliant and hardworking producers. The premieres we attended included Genevieve Nnaji’s Road to Yesterday, Mo Abudu’s Wedding Party, Bolanle Austen-Peters’ The Bling Lagosians, Hakunde by Nadine Ibrahim, as well as Oloibiri. We travelled to London to support Waka the Musical, just as we supported Saro the Musical, as well as Fela and Kalakuta Queens, all from the stable of Bolanle Austen-Peters.
“Similarly, we gave strong government support for the hosting of the Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) in Lagos, Nigeria, for four consecutive years. The m inistry also packaged Nigeria’s first-ever attendance of Edinburgh’s Military Tattoo last August. Troupes from FCT, Osun, Kano and Katsina States joined representatives of the military at the month-long event, where Nigeria dazzled the world.”