Our efforts to bring culture and tourism sector into the mainstream of the economy: Lai Mohammed

Posted by News Express | 25 November 2016 | 1,692 times

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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 Buhari administration to diversify the economy and create jobs.

He spoke in Abuja on Thursday during the oversight visit to the ministry by the Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism.

Alhaji Mohammed noted that with the instability in the prices of commodities, many countries are now diversifying their economies, having realised the futility of total dependence on commodities as foreign exchange earners.

He said that as part of 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.

The minister said: “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 revitalise 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 December 5, 2016 the ministry would 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.

He noted that since culture drives tourism, it is important to have a vibrant culture sub-sector, adding. “This,” he said, “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 organisers. 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.”

Alhaji Mohammed said that in order to provide the enabling environment for Nollywood, the ministry is supporting the burgeoning industry by creating the necessary regulatory environment. He disclosed 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, the minister said the ministry partnered with organisers 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 modernise the National Museum in Lagos into world-class historical hub and tourist site.

Alhaji Mohammed 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 Committee, 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 was 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.

Senator Urhoghide stressed the need to put in place the necessary legislative framework to adequately harness culture and tourism into a viable economy.

•Photo shows, from left: Senator Babajide Omoworare, the Chairman Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, Senator David Umaru and the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed when the Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism paid an oversight visit to the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in Abuja on Thursday.

Source: News Express

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