Next Four-year Agenda of Ministry will Boost Culture Sector, Says Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed

King Akan in Abuja

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai MohammedLai Mohammed, has unveiled the next four-year agenda of the ministry aimed at repositioning the Nigerian culture and tourism sector to attract more investments, create jobs and improve earnings for both practitioners and the government.

The minister disclosed this while receiving in an audience the Culture, Arts, Tourism and Entertainment Writers Association, Abuja (CATEWAA) during a courtesy visit to his office.

According to him, the agenda include the conclusion and launch of the National Policy on Culture and Tourism to give the sector the necessary legal framework, the establishment of an endowment fund for the arts to make the National Summit for Culture and Tourism an annual event to have a unified national celebration on World Tourism Day, the exploration of private sector branding of the nation’s cultural centres abroad, and ensuring the final work and launch of the National Festival Calendar.

He also stated that there are plans to finalise work on the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON) Bill which would soon be submitted to the Federal Executive Council (FEC), so as 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.

Mohammed revealed the ministry’s plans to hold a National Council on Culture and Tourism in May 2020, and to subsequently make it a yearly event as well as organise a regional summit on culture and tourism starting next year, with a view to working with other countries in the West Africa sub-region to foster the development of the sector. He pointed out that the ministry would continue its visits to tourist sites and to attend as many festivals as possible across the country.

Speaking on the forthcoming Abuja Carnival, the minister said “the carnival has to be restructured to become more purposeful. We intend to limit it to seven items.”

Mohammed also used the opportunity to dismiss the insinuation that he has been focusing more on the information part of his portfolio than culture. He highlighted several achievements of the ministry in the last four years in the culture sector which included supporting movie producers and AFRIMA.

“We organised the National Summit on Culture and Tourism in 2016 to chart a new path for the creative industry. There was also the roundtable in Lagos that provided stakeholders the platform to engage in business-focused discussions towards initiating and enabling private sector led growth and development of the industry, as well as the Creative Industry Financing Conference, to articulate ways of funding the creative industry,” he said.

The fall out of these has been the review of our tourism master plan, resuscitation of the Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT), establishing of a taskforce on the creative industry, and the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) 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 N3 million to N500 million for movie production, movie distribution, fashion and music, among others. Pioneer status was also granted to the creative industry by the federal government to boost investment in the sector,” he said.