Tourism has capacity to drive economy if properly harnessed —Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has again stressed the need for them to diversify the nation’s ailing economy from oil to tourism.

He noted that tourism has the capacity to drive the economy if properly harnessed.

Mohammed said this recently in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, at a workshop on the “Implementation of the 2005 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), that the industry accounts for about 1.3 of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

The Minister who was represented by the Director of Entertainment and Creative Service Department of the Ministry, Mrs. Grace Isu Gekpe maintained that the potentials of the creative industry must be optimally utilised to drive the economy of the country.

Mohammed said, “There is that tendency for this economy to thrive more when local markets in creative industries are strengthened and access to international market is granted.

“Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, with a population of about 180 million people with a land of more than 500 languages and hundreds of ethnic groups. You can imagine how diverse the culture could be and the level at which this convention is important to this country.

“The industry has a large economy and its fast growing film and fashion sectors have become a strong exporter of creative goods and services. The sector accounted for about 1.3 of the country’s GDP. This is why the present government is committed to making the creative industry an alternative to oil”.

The Director of the Institute for African Culture and International Understanding of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Professor Peter Okebukola in his remark, said there is need to protect cultural diversity in respect to dance, indigenous science and technology and language.

He added that 62 participants of the workshop were drawn from various parts of the country to be trained on collection of relevant data that would ensure the protection and promotion of the diversity of the nation’s cultural values.

“We are looking at different dimensions of cultures globally and the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the protection and Promotion of diversity of the cultural expressions recognise that whether you are from Africa or Europe, no culture is superior, there is diversity.

“This workshop is to train all actors in the culture sector in Nigeria on how to implement the 2005 UNESCO Convention and how to document what we are doing so every four years, we now take our resolutions to UNESCO,” Okebukola added.

The Regional Director and Representative of UNESCO Regional Office in Abuja, Mr. Ydo Yao in his address, disclosed that the mandate of the UNESCO Convention was to, among other things, ensure the introduction of cultural policies and measures that nurture creativity, provide access for creators to participate in domestic and international marketplaces where their artistic works or expressions could be recognise and compensated.

He disclosed that the General Conference of the UNESCO adopted the 2005 Convention because the international community saw the urgency to recognise the distinctive nature of cultural goods, services and activities as vehicles of identity, values and meaning, adding that more than 70 UNESCO State parties have ratified the Convention.

According to him, the workshop was a capacity-building activity that UNESCO is implementing to enable Nigeria produce the second quadrennial periodic report.

The Director who was represented by Ms. Adele Nibona said, the Convention provides a framework for the governance of culture, based on the principle of participatory, transparent, informed and evidence-based policy making for culture.

The Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun in his remark stated that Nigeria was blessed with rich cultural heritage and values, stressing that there was need for the country to make use of the various opportunities that abound in the industry.

He maintained that the state has been taking conscious efforts in reviving the rich cultural heritage and values of the country, citing the example of the just concluded African Drums Festival organised by the state government which according to him attracted more than 10 African countries.

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