Managing Our Culture and Securing Our Future


By Muyiwa  Awodiya

Managing Our Culture…
The Nigerian culture, is in crises of abandonment, bastardisation, bankruptcy, lack of appreciation, patronage and preservation. It sits, dangerously, on a tinderbox as it is now a potential source of widespread ignorance about  ourselves and our identities. Very soon, therefore, we Nigerians will only learn about our own cultures in books, journals and films as Nigeria’s cultural ethos and traditional values have been jettisoned by her leaders and her people. A few examples of Nigeria’s culture’s afflictions with many tribulations of abandonment, bankruptcy, mis-branding as fetish, idolatry, primitive and denigratory, will suffice. Unless we understand fully what has befallen us, culturally speaking, and seek correct solutions, we are heading to no destination. We must manage our culture if we must progress as a nation and as a people in a country of civilized nations and people who live in a well ordered, disciplined and morally valuable societies long before the coming of the Europeans.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury and Head of the Anglican Church Worldwide, Archbishop George Carey admonishes Nigerians to preserve their culture despite Christianity: “Nigerians should not abandon their rich cultural heritage because of Christianity”, the Archbishop said when he visited Nigeria in 2001. The number three citizen in Britain after the Queen and the heir-apparent, expressed this opinion during a courtesy call on the Alake of Egbaland, the late Oba Oyebade Lipede:
I just plead with you and your people to make your culture endure and pass it on to future generation, not because it is a tourist attraction, but more importantly because it says something about the people of Nigeria (Carey, 2001, p. 3).
We cannot be bright citizens if we refuse to pay heed to this plea from the Archbishop, a foreigner. We must embrace our culture and tradition rather than brand them as fetish and idolatry.

Nigeria can stimulate its national economic development through culture. It is obvious that Nigeria’s over-dependence on the crude oil and gas industry for revenue generation would hinder the country from faster economic growth. It is on this premise that this writer canvasses, in this lecture, for the need for government at various levels to explore the use of our abundant arts and cultural resources as a tool for national economic development. The economic environment of the twenty-first century is changing rapidly and is being driven by a need to change the management strategy of all sectors of the Nigerian economy. For this reason, if  Nigeria will  be  among  the top 20 economies of the  world in the  year 2020, as envisaged, there is the need now for a new  management strategy to  propel a  rapid  paradigm  shift  from a consumerist to a producing nation. It also entails economic diversification from the mono-cultural economy of crude oil to a vibrant, dependable and productive non-oil sector such as the creative arts and culture industry. Nigeria must grow its economy by moving it from the tactless realm of consumption to a strategic scheme of production as in China, Japan, Indonesia, North Korea, South Korea, South Africa and Ghana. These are countries with fast growing economies “just because they produce more than one percent of what they consume” (Ologbenla, 2010, p. 37). Similarly, Nigeria should produce more commodities than it consumes.
The focus of this lecture is for Nigeria to appreciate its culture, revive and develop it to help diversify its economy beyond the oil industry. Through repositioning of its arts, culture and tourism potentials, Nigeria has a unique opportunity to expand its economic base to meet the yearning needs and to fulfill the aspirations of its teeming population in a globalised world economy. The repositioning would package arts, culture and tourism as viable products that would become competitive commodities for internal and external consumption.

Arts and Culture Management Techniques
If Nigerian arts, culture and tourism potentials must become economically viable, they must adapt and utilize arts management philosophies and techniques of scientific and rational managerial know-how. In this regard, “management”, as “the process of planning, organizing, leading and controlling the efforts of organization members and of using all other organizational resources to achieve stated organizational goals” (Stoner and Freeman, 1989, p. 4); must be employed skillfully to lead us systematically to our cherished destination. A process is a systematic way of doing things. We define managing arts as a process because all managers, regardless of their particular aptitudes or skills, engage in certain interrelated activities in order to achieve their desired goals. The four basic activities in which managers are typically involved – planning, organizing, leading and controlling – would be applied in managing Nigerian arts, culture and tourism to attain a productive economic benefit (Awodiya, 2006, p. 46).
This definition stresses that management involves achieving the organisation’s “stated goals”. This means that managers of Nigerian arts, culture and tourism should try to attain the specific result of profit-making. The four basic activities in which arts managers are typically involved are: Planning, which implies that arts managers think through their goals and actions in advance; Organizing, which means that arts managers coordinate the human and material resources of Nigerian arts, culture and tourism organization, including the adoption of the technique of scientific management. According to Taylor (2008, p. 79). The general adoption of scientific management would readily in the future double the productivity of the average man engaged in industrial work. Think of what this means to the whole country… and of the increased opportunities for education, culture, and recreation which this implies. Leading, describes how arts managers direct and influence sub-ordinates, getting others to perform essential tasks. By establishing a conducive atmosphere on the Nigeria’s cultural landscape, they help their subordinates to perform their duties to the best of their abilities, and Controlling, means that arts managers ensure that the arts and culture organizations are moving in the right direction, towards accomplishing its stated goals of profit making.

The Imperative of Culture
Culture, as already indicated in diverse ways in this lecture, is the essence of a people; and it is the totality of their way of life. Culture is oftentimes referred to as the bedrock of human civilization and it is the dynamic centre of the development of any nation. Culture not only gives a sense of belonging and identity to the people, it also serves as agent of national unity and integration. According to Webber (1969, p. 68), “culture is the way of life of a group of people, the configuration of all of the more or less stereotyped patterns of learned behavior which are handed down from one generation to the next through the means of language and imitations”.
As a strong pillar of deepening democratic process, culture has not been allowed to play its significant role since the advent of democracy in Nigeria (Awodiya, 2006, p. 133). Nigerian leaders have not optimized culture by rightly directing the path of nationhood and development. Rather than look inwards and tap our cultural resources to empower our growth and unite our diversity, Nigerian leaders of all persuasions are indifferent to culture, and even encourage our cultural dislocation, which results from the fanatical frenzy with which we embrace foreign culture and consume foreign products which inhibit our quest for development.
To stimulate national development through culture, the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) was established by Decree 3 of 1975 and amended by Decree 5 of 1987 as a government organ committed to the development and promotion of the living arts and culture of Nigeria. Its mission statement is “to employ arts and culture as a tool for national integration, unity and the sustainable growth and development of the nation” (Cultural Policy for Nigeria, 1988, p. 19). Culture is the only sector through which Nigeria enjoys comparative advantage over other nations of the world because it has a gigantic cultural diversity and indeed, it is the most pluralistic and the largest multi-cultural society in the world. According to the late Professor Onwuejeogwu (2001, p. 5), “Nigeria is the only country in the world with about 480 ethnic or cultural nationalities. Nigeria has unique possibilities or problems not experienced by any country in the world past or present”. Other countries of the world, according to him, have lesser ethnic or cultural nationalities than Nigeria. For example, former USSR had 127, China and India have 40 each, U.S.A. has 50, France has 7, Germany has 15 and England has 4. According to The Guardian Newspaper, Nigeria is home to about seven percent of the languages spoken in the world.
Nigeria’s inability to exploit the rich potentials of culture and give the requisite attention to cultural development, which will stimulate the economic transformation of the country, is the bane of the leadership–political, economic, industrial, technological, scientific and even academic as well.
We must appreciate the political and economic potential of our culture so that other people will emulate us in respecting it.

Nigeria needs cultural rebirth because the neglect of core cultural values by the Nigerian  people  is responsible  for the incessant civil  unrest, youth restiveness, militancy, oil and  sea piracy,  illegal bunkering and oil pipeline vandalism, kidnapping, armed robbery, bomb attacks and  other crimes  in many parts of the  country. As a result, Nigeria is probably 50 years behind the rest of the world culturally, after the January 1966 coup d’état! The Nigerian psyche has been so bastardised and so denigrated. We have to re-order the damaged psyche of Nigerians. Unethical submission to modernity devalues our cherished and hallowed core African values, a consequence of which is the adverse culture of ethnically-induced violence and unrest in many parts of the society. The revival of our cultural and traditional Nigerian values will stem the tide of youths’ criminality and produce thorough-bred Nigerians who would eschew violence and misdemeanor and exhibit excellent personal credo. Nigeria’s inability to develop her culture, technology and science is responsible for her taste for foreign products as there are no local intervention models to mediate the penchant for foreign goods. For example, the former Federal Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has raised alarm over Nigeria’s rising food import profile, which has reached over N1.3 trillion in foreign exchange in 2011, making the country to be among the top four import consumers in the world. Presently, Nigeria imports products that can be produced in abundance locally; rice worth N356 billion, sugar worth N217 billion and fish worth N97 billion are some products regularly imported into the country. The country has also spent N635 billion to import wheat products that have local alternatives (Adesina, 2012, p. 15).
At the heart of the craze for uncritical foreign values is the lack of confidence and pride in what is inherently Nigerian. We are not proud of what we have, who we are, and what we can do or achieve. We are not proud of motivating ourselves to do the best for our country. Nigerians do not even wear our locally-made fabrics. We are enchanted and fascinated by foreign textiles and merchandise. Any country that prides itself in importing other people’s culture, products and commodities will never develop its own industry (Awodiya, 2011, p. 108). As John Beatties has rightly said, “Every human society has somehow developed its own distinctive culture and social system; its own way of life” (1964, p. 274). Therefore, we should be very proud of who we are and what we produce.

Our Cultural Diversity, Our Strength
We have always bemoaned our disunity, our lack of progress, which many have blamed on our lack of unanimity of purpose largely brought about by our cultural diversity. But, while cultural diversity has its own challenges, against the backdrop of what is happening in the Arab world today, it has obviously become our strength. Can anyone imagine the late Gaddafi in Nigeria? Or the deposed Egypt’s Mubarak, Tunisia’s deposed leader, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, or even our own dear Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe? No–because   nobody in Nigeria, I dare say, can manipulate our national sentiments so successfully as some of those sit-tight Arab leaders did, have done and are still doing to keep themselves in power for as long as they did, have done, and are still doing in Zimbabwe and Syria.
Would the would-be late Gaddafi or the deposed Mubarak of Nigeria come from the Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa stock? Could an Ijaw, Urhobo, Ibibio, a Kanuri, a Berom, or a Tiv or an Itsekiri or a Benin aspire to be a Nigerian Paul Biya? I doubt that very much.
I remember that part of the allegations against General Gowon by the plotters of Murtala putsch, was that the victorious war General wanted to perpetuate himself in power. There were also such hints about General Babangida who had to step-a-side against his will, as there were such suggestions about the late Head of State General Sani Abacha, who had to pay the supreme prize for daring. President Olusegun Obasanjo came with his third term agenda to elongate his tenure with constitutional backing. He suffered a resounding defeat in the National Assembly. So Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Zimbabwe or Syria are not likely to be replicated here because the feasibility of a sit-tight ruler arising in our clime is quite remote as a result of our cultural diversity (Oguejiofor, 2011, p. 11).

“Branding” means to co-ordinate and package our culture like a product to make it appeal to our people who will appreciate it first before we ship it abroad for consumption by foreigners who will buy it. But we must first of all identify our cultural or historical materials with recognised Nigerian symbols before we commodify them. It is important that we have to have other products besides crude oil that we can package and sell to the rest of the world. And the product that we have in abundance that we have not branded is culture; and we must brand it, market it and sell it in a creative way to other peoples of the world to boost our economy. So, it is our culture that creates marketing opportunity for products that we can sell at home and abroad. We cannot brand Nigeria on crude oil, it has to be through our culture of traditional arts and crafts, festivals, dance, drama, music, visual and literary arts. Others are: film, home video (popularly known as) Nollywood, National Troupe of Nigeria and visual arts exhibitions (Awodiya, 2008, p. 129). What is being advocated here may be contradictory to my earlier suggestion that we should reject foreign products wholesale in preference for our own which we will sell to foreigners. And the contradiction here is: If we don’t buy foreign products, how do we expect foreigners to buy ours? We must resolve this contradiction by stating thus: We live and exist in a symbiotic world. As we buy a foreign country’s products, so also we will sell our country’s products to foreigners. But we need to make and package our products to have necessary appeal.
Nobody is interested in our culture because we have not made it appealing. Nobody is therefore willing to pay a kobo or a dime for it. In this way, our culture will gradually go into extinction. We allow our culture to die gradually without taking positive steps to halt it. We have to brand our culture positively, monitor it, and let it influence the world. If need be we can force it down the throat of the rest of the world like the example of the Cable News Network (CNN). If we buy their foreign products, they must find it reassuring to buy our own cultural products too. That is the way the world economy works. If we do not wake up from our cultural slumber, the world will pass us by and we will be in a great mess in the nearest future. Indeed, Nigerian children do not know anything about our culture as we indoctrinate them to believe that our indigenous tradition and culture are backward, idolatrous and fetish. Hence our children do not want to identify with our culture. So, every one of them wants to be like Americans or Europeans! “But African-Americans want to be like Nigerians. So they come here with hope and aspiration only to discover that there is nothing left for them to see, appreciate or acquire in our culture. They are baffled and disappointed. They then go to Ghana that has branded her culture; they immediately appreciate it and identify with it” (Abulu, 2009, p. 59).
However, a few Nigerians have branded our culture to make it more appealing as a product, ready for sale. For example, Femi Osofisan has branded the Nigerian culture in many of his plays. With remarkable intensity, he has reinterpreted the Yoruba myths, history and folklore that he inherited to suit the contemporary realities in Nigeria. In plays sparkling with witty dialogues, marked by clear-cut characterization, and full of brilliant and spectacular scenes, Osofisan fashions out a drama that gives voice to the underlings of society– a drama in which the peasants, the poor and the down-trodden are imbued with positive and revolutionary virtues. Olu Obafemi’s dexterity and versatility as an accomplished artist is brought to the fore as a multifaceted dramatist, playwright, poet and novelist who has branded the Nigerian culture in those genres. May Ifeoma Nwoye has branded Igbo culture in her novels, poems and short stories. Ahmed Yerima has branded his Edo North culture in plays, poetry and fiction. Peter Ukpokodu has branded his Etsako culture in plays, poetry and novels. Tony Afekuju has branded his Itsekiri culture in poetry. Chinyere Okafor has branded her Igbo culture in plays, novels and poetry. Sir Victor Uwaifo has branded the Edo culture – mythology and folklore – in music and video tapes (Awodiya, 2012, p. 65). But a prophet is without honour in his homestead.

Culture as Agent of Tourism
Nigeria’s vast and rich cultural heritage should be strategically repositioned to partner tourism as its driver to lift the Nigerian economy. Tourism cannot effectively flourish without the cultural components. The desire to position culture and tourism as the lever of Nigeria’s economic growth and development rests with the Ministry of Information and Culture as it must plan to mainstream both sectors into a monolithic entity to galvanize national economic development. The effort is in line with the understanding that no nation can really excel without the inclusion of its cultural and tourism parameters in state affairs. Fortunately for the Ministry, cultural tourism had long been identified as Nigeria’s area of high comparative advantage (Awodiya, 2006, p. 130).

Nigeria stands a great chance of surviving the current economic meltdown facing the entire globe if it could focus more on cultural tourism. To this end, Nigeria can forge a solid partnership with symbiotic foreign countries for culture and tourism in developing and marketing their potentials to boost patronage of local and foreign tourists. If collaboration and partnership are cultivated between performing artistes, museums and states that are blessed with natural and cultural endowments, the resultant cultural tourism synergy will be presented as exciting performances at vital tourist destinations across the country. As a significant tourist destination, museums are the cultural central and memory bank of any nation, including Nigeria. If well-developed and well-equipped, museums serve as both a significant source of a nation’s “living history” and a destination honeycomb, attracting tourists to whom we will sell our culture. Thus, the symbolic relationship between culture and tourism, if well managed, could be channelled to broaden the country’s economic base as well as provide employment for the teeming population of Nigerian unemployed youths. Museums provide vital information and entertainment to visitors as they embody the cultural heritage of a people, which foreign tourists are usually interested in exploring. History, culture and museum studies should be introduced to our elementary and secondary schools syllabus. Both tourism and culture are foreign exchange earners for several countries of the world. It is high time Nigeria joined those countries with the rich cultural tourism heritage at her disposal lying largely untapped.




177.20 billion


65.20 billion


56.90 billion


55.40 billion


50.80 billion


45.50 billion

United Kingdom

45.30 billion


43.30 billion


42.20 billion

Hong Kong

41.30 billion


38.40 billion

South Africa

35.00 billion


34.00 billion


33.80 billion


32.00 billion


31.80 billion


2.79 million

Source: Wikipedia (Free Encylopedia)

This table is self-explanatory. Nigeria’s position on the table is nothing to write home about: 131 out of 141 countries with tourism competitiveness index in 2015. We are still miles away from the countries that make the money from tourism development in terms of naira and dollars from 2015 to the present.
Cultural industries, have been optimally and gainfully harnessed by most countries of the world, especially Europe, America and Asia to uplift their economic development. In this regard, Nigeria must encourage the production, organisation and vibrant marketing of its creative enterprises in arts and crafts industry and make them a major player in the national economy of the country. As the world economy is receding, there is the urgent need for Nigeria, indeed, African nations, to pay greater attention to the development and creation of new market for their culture and creative enterprises.
Cultural industry is people-oriented, as it includes the making of handicrafts by the rural dwellers. In this regard, government should support and encourage the programmes and activities of this industry as it boosts the economic base of rural dwellers and discourages rural-urban drift. The private sector too should diversify its strategies and invest in the country’s creative industry, not only to provide a vibrant market for our cultural enterprises, but also to confirm Nigeria’s creative and cultural leadership on the African continent. The art and craft market will contribute significantly to Nigeria’s quest to tap from the abundant resources from cultural industries for use in addressing some of the nation’s challenges, especially in the area of wealth creation, poverty alleviation and employment-generation for youths in rural populations (Awodiya, 2008, p. 49).
The creative enterprise can aid development, if the Federal Government utilizes the creative industry of the economy in order to boost the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). For example, in Britain, the creative industry gives 40 per cent to the government because the British Government invested in them. If the Federal Government of Nigeria could do the same here, in the next few years, the creative industry would do much better than the oil and gas industry. On the importance of Nigeria to develop its creative industry, Sandall (2009, p. 54) of the World Bank informs thus:
The World Bank has taken particular interest in the creative industry in Nigeria, especially the entertainment sector where Nigeria has the talents. The entertainment sector is one of the key areas in the creation of jobs in the economy and with the right initiative and direction, unemployment will reduce drastically. The World Bank aimed solely at boosting the entertainment industry in the aspect of financing producers who have the ideas but lack the monetary aspect to execute their plans.

…Securing Our Future
In securing our future, Nigeria should harness her cultural resources and revitalise them and teach them to her children in schools because our education curriculum does not teach, promote or sustain our cultural heritage. We should develop a sense of pride in ourselves and in our culture as a people, and become self-sufficient. We should learn from the Asian Tiger countries that, in spite of modernisation and Christianity and Islam stick to their culture and traditions and, therefore, are advancing faster than African nations. For example, we were at par with some of these Asian Tiger countries at independence in 1960, but now they have outstripped us and we have become consumers of their products. We pride ourselves in wearing their lace and silk products while our own textile factories are grinding to a halt. No nation can really develop without drawing from its culture and traditions. Our cultural socialization must be emphasized for our future development.
Art is everywhere; culture is enormously available; we are immensely endowed in tourism. But what are lacking in contemporary Nigerian artistic and cultural landscape are the managerial functions of planning, organizing, leading, controlling and effective leadership and co­ordination of the available massive cultural materials in the country. Therefore, to secure our future, the following steps must be taken:
1.         If Nigeria’s vast arts, culture and tourism heritage are properly controlled and effectively managed, they can collectively become the driver of not only our national economic development through creation of employment opportunities for our unemployed youths, but also serve as catalyst for national integration.
2.         Repositioning of Nigeria’s culture will power the branding of the Nigerian project through the use of our creative industry, performing arts, visual arts, film and home video (Nollywood) to improve and sustain our image and identity at home and abroad. Culture is the bedrock of human civilization without which no nation can make economic, social and political advancement. In this regard, the Nigerian government should make arts, culture and tourism priority areas in the nation’s economic development projects.
3.         To use Nigerian arts, culture and tourism as instruments of economic development, job creation and poverty eradication. Cultural industries should be set up in each of the 774 local government council areas in the country to empower unemployed rural dwellers. Through these cultural and creative industries, the government would be able to reach the grassroots for their cultural conscientization and re-orientation programmes in the country. More cultural festivals should be introduced to the national cultural tourism calendar; and women crafts creative enterprises in all the 774 local government council areas in the country should be well organised and properly managed with appropriate marketing strategies (Awodiya, 2001, p. 163).
4.         In using arts, culture and tourism to grow its economy, the Federal Government should adopt a policy of patronizing the public and private cultural enterprises in order to help develop their domestic and foreign markets. Besides, the Nigerian government should also employ the services of the performing and visual arts regularly in her programme of activities. This patronage will boost the financial resources of the artistes, and uplift their spirits psychologically and aesthetically. For example, during the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th American President on January 20th, 2009, the American artistes exhibited their talents in poetry, visual and performing arts, musical and dramatic concerts at the ceremony.
5.         An important aspect of any Nigerian Government Agency’s job is to influence Nigerian citizens positively toward culture. As Jain et al put it:
In influencing people, some important aspects deal with attitude and attitude change, as well as with communication alternatives and outcomes… An attitude is an idea, charged with affect, predisposing action (Jain et al, 2010, p. 89).

6.         There is the urgent need for a meaningful and sustainable financing of the cultural development by the government and financial institutions, and multinational organisations in Nigeria. The arts, culture and tourism sector has been denied government attention and financial empowerment. “The number of agencies providing specific financial incentives for cultural tourism projects has increased rapidly in recent years on a worldwide basis” (Mill and Morrison, 1992, p. 412). If properly funded, the creative and cultural industries would enhance and strengthen the growth of the economy as well as contribute to stem youth restiveness and criminality. In repositioning culture to shore up national revenue base, government must come up with sound strategies for funding and marketing for promoting and selling cultural tourism products in Nigeria (Awodiya, 2011, p. 114). All tiers of government, intervention agencies and financial institutions, have roles to play in funding adequately the culture and creative enterprises in Nigeria. These include Micro Finance Banks, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), National Directorate of Employment (NDE), and National Poverty Alleviation Programme (NAPEP). These agencies and the conventional banks should be able to assist arts and cultural practitioners with loans at low interest rates. Government should chart new ways of making Nigerian artistes to access some grants easily with their feasibility proposals only.
7.         The Nigerian government should include art education in the school curriculum. This will help to build students’ characters through arts participation in schools. Taking part in arts, culture and history curricula in schools will help in building the self-confidence and strong personality of students.
8.         The Nigerian government should embark on an aggressive attitudinal change campaign that will benefit the people through educational reform at all levels from the primary school to the university level, as a way of re-moulding the character of the younger generation. Nigerian adults’ attitude cannot be easily re-moulded, therefore, the only way I think the country can make a remarkable difference in our lives is for the government to reform education sector so  that the youths can be exposed positively to cultural education very early in their lives. But this is not to suggest that the government should give up on adults. No. Adults must be carefully addressed and appealed to help teach the youths the need for correct conduct, culturally and otherwise always.
9.         Thus there is the urgent need for parents and the elderly to impact African cultural values in their children. As a result of rapid modernization and changing economic situation, parents and the elderly no longer have the time to impact African cultural values in their children. This has dwarfed children’s ability to understand and appreciate the beauty of African culture and, as a result, “Nigerian children are dangerously exposed to Western values transmitted through the media” (Babawale, 2010, p. 87). Consequently, the cultural heritage that is ours and the opportunities to contribute significantly to its evolution are being lost to our youths. The direct result of this neglect is a downtrodden army of cultureless children marching into a barren and depleted adulthood and taking Nigerian civilization with them! And the sheer numbers of these future citizens confront the nation with prospects of a diminishing cultural future. This situation poses a serious threat to the transmission of culture in this country and will have a long-term negative impact on the number of people showing interest in the performing arts, the literary arts or visual arts exhibitions and other pertinent events and shows that they need to attend and participate as potential future audiences.
10.       Cultural tourism calendar of events across the country should be developed to serve as a guide to both local and foreign tourists. A National arts competition among secondary school students should be instituted soon. As a matter of urgency, we should revive and speak our native languages to our children because our languages embody our culture. If our native languages die, our culture will die a natural death with it. According to Olu Obafemi (2011, p. 40) “the imperative of language as the sole vehicle and conveyor of culture” cannot be over-emphasized.
Nigeria should become, by now, the centerpiece of the World Carnivals, given our cultural diversity as the most pluralistic and the largest multicultural society in the world. Since human beings “are culturally groomed to think and behave in certain ways from the time we are babies, and most people are not aware of their own cultural programming” (Peterson, 2008, p. 3), the Nigeria government is therefore urged to culturally programme its children to respect and admire Nigeria’s traditions and cultures. Hence, historical studies, cultural studies and museum studies should be introduced to the elementary and secondary schools syllabus.
It is clear from these recommendations that imminent danger awaits Nigeria if she allows her arts and cultural heritage to be swallowed up and be suppressed by Western civilization and foreign cultural dominance. The government should commit itself to the development of our cultural heritage, natural resources, history and tradition in a manner that will preserve our national pride and the dignity of Nigerian people. In this regard, the Nigeria Government should resuscitate and implement its cultural orientation, and cultural liberation policies, aimed at re-orientating and re-sensitising Nigerians on the values and uniqueness of our cultural heritage. This can be achieved through the services and operations of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO).
Nigeria would break new grounds if she diversifies her economic base from her over-dependence on crude oil revenue to other non-oil sectors of the economy, especially arts, culture and tourism industry as the bedrock of the country’s economy. The Federal Government (and States Governments) should learn lessons from those countries that have made economic advancement without crude oil but depend on their culture and tourism revenues to run their economies. Some of these countries include: America, Australia, Spain, Germany, France, China, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Thailand, Switzerland, Japan, Turkey, South Africa and Kenya (Mill and Morrison, 1992, p. 320).
Nigeria should deploy the managerial function of effective organization to exploit and explore its vast and gigantic culture to expose its youths to cultural education. Museums have a great role to play in youth cultural education. Employment opportunities to earn a living from cultural tourism support activities abound for investors, tour guides, photographers, craftsmen, transporters, tailors, traditional dancers, musicians, dramatists, hoteliers, mobile phone operators and so on. Since cultural tourism is a great money spinner in the world today, Nigeria should develop its great cultural tourism potentials for revenue derivation and employment creation. Nigeria should begin to pay critical attention to the versatility and profitability of culture.
Finally, if Nigeria really wants to develop as a nation, she must first keep on developing and motivating men and women who are self-confident, focused and culturally sound. She has to change the mentality of her citizens which had been savagely truncated by colonialism. Nigerians should be culturally- oriented so that they would believe in themselves and in their “capacity to innovate, create and invent”. The Arts, particularly Theatre Arts, can “effectively take charge of the process by which the minds of Nigerians can be culturally educated and oriented” toward positive influences. For example, the “enormous potentials of theatre arts to imitate life and influence the people’s minds with positive images” have been veritably demonstrated in the epic struggles of Nigerian past heroes and heroines in many remarkable plays by several Nigerian playwrights. Through the theatre, Nigeria can liberate, orient and strengthen the minds of her people and restore confidence in them by embarking on conscious programmes of creative cultural conscientisation (Awodiya, 2009, p. 178). The suggestions and recommendations canvassed as illustrated above, are realizable. They are not the products of a Utopian only to be found in Utopia. They are all found in Nigeria.
Therefore, managing our culture is the surest way to securing our future.
–Excerpts of University of Benin 169th Inaugural Lecture series, delivered by Muyiwa P. Awodiya, Professor of Theatre Arts, at Akin Deko Hall, University of Benin on March 17, 2016.