Stories by Osa Amadi, Arts Editor
Last week in Lagos, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Hon. Minister of Information and Culture, reviewed before the media his ministry’s achievements and set agenda for the next four years.
He began by dispelling what he called “a misconception in certain circles” that he had in the past four years, paid more attention to the Information sector than to Culture and Tourism. “…but I can tell you with evidence that we achieved a lot in the Tourism and Culture Sector or in the Creative.
“Within six months of assuming office, 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 of a Task Force on the Creative Industry, are some of the outcomes of the summit.”
Sequel to the summit, the ministry organized two other meetings to fast-track the main objective of transforming the Creative Industry which the minister has always described as Nigeria’s ‘new oil’. Also a Roundtable conference in Lagos that provided stakeholders the platform to engage in business-focused discussions was convened to initiate and enable private-sector-led growth and development of the Industry, and later, a Creative Industry Financing Conference to articulate ways to source funding for the Creative Industry.
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“Gentlemen, both meetings paid off handsomely,” the Minister said. “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 achievement of the meetings, said the minister, 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 where between N3million and N500million can be accessed for movie production, distribution, fashion, music, etc. The minister said that happened after he 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.”
Other achievements outlined by the minister include signing of MoUs with the Tony Elumelu Foundation and the British Council; clinching of the hosting right of the 61st UNWTO CAF Meeting; and electing of Nigeria as Vice President, Africa, at the 22nd General Assembly of the organization in China.
As agenda for the next four years, the minister said they have a plan to launch the National Policy on Culture and the National Policy on Tourism; finalize work on the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON) Bill and submit it to the Federal Executive Council. “The plan,” said Lai Mohammed “is 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 ministry also plans to establish the Endowment Fund for the Arts in order to create a legal framework for the financing of the sector; make the National Summit for Culture and Tourism (first held in 2016) an annual event beginning from the first quarter of 2020; and ensure a regular meeting of the Presidential Council on Tourism to catalyze the growth of tourism.
Other outlooks for the ministry include completion of work on the establishment of Tourism Statistics and Tourism Satellite Account, working with the UNWTO; Holding of a National Council on Culture and Tourism in May next year and annually thereafter; organizing of a Regional Summit on Culture and Tourism beginning from next year, with a view to working with other countries in the West Africa sub-region to foster the development of the sector; and getting more sites in Nigeria inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
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