From OlawaleAjimotokan in Abuja

The Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said that government is placing priority on the revival of the Argungu Fishing Festival. The four-day yearly festival held in Kebbi State is one of Nigeria’s internationally recognised tourism attractions. But unfortunately it has not been held since the last edition in 2009, posing a huge revenue loss for the local economy and the country.

Mohammed told the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs which paid him a visit during the week, that federal government was considering reviving the Argungu Festival as a national tourist asset.

He said the ministry had requested all states of the federation to provide a list of all their festivals, adding that their cooperation was needed in the resuscitation of the Presidential Council on Tourism.

Mohammed said that government has mapped out four states for tourism pilot development while the British Council has offered to give support on capacity building, infrastructure and assess to the market. He noted that culture which is pro-poor and pro-rural area is neglected in Nigeria arising from lack of infrastructure, lack of market, resulting in lack of synergy between culture and capital market.

The Minister said that tourism and culture cannot be separated adding that factors like visa, security, hotel, aviation and local transport must be addressed.

Senator Aliu Abdulahi, who led the senate committee, frowned at the neglect which all elements of Nigeria’s culture from all divides, including respect for elders have suffered. He said the senate would not like to see culture backslide. He therefore asked that budget must be prepared for culture next year.

His view was corroborated by Senator Sani Sani Umar, who wondered that information has overshadowed culture. Umar said that culture defines our identity and should not be relegated to background.

“Culture is our sole and identity as Africans and it must not be relegated. Unfortunately, information has taken the shine off culture. People without culture are people without sole. Any request for culture next year in the budget will be captured to enable you to function,’’ he said.