Address by the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, at the occasion of the oversight visit to the Ministry by the Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism on Thursday, November 24, 2016.

Distinguished Senators
Gentlemen of the Press
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me formally welcome you to the Ministry of Information and Culture the Distingushed Members of the Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism. It is my utmost pleasure to use the occasion of your oversight visit to present our first-year stewardship, as we seek to chart a new path for the Culture and Tourism Sector, and to move it from the fringe to the mainstream of the economy. This is particularly more urgent now as the Culture and Tourism Sector has been identified as one of the drivers of the government’s economic diversification policy, in the wake of the crash in the price of oil that has brought to the fore the dangers of running a mono-product economy.
2.   Distinguished Senators, while the task at hand has been challenging, we have been able to kick-start new initiatives and different dynamics in order to create a new vista of opportunities in this sector. After meeting stakeholders in the sector, we convened a National Summit on Culture and Tourism in which all the critical sub-sectors engaged in a meaningful dialogue. We then followed up by setting up an Implementation Committee which has since submitted a draft report, the implementation of which has already begun. The review of the Tourism Master Plan and the resuscitation of the Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT), both of which we are in the process of implementing, are some of the committee’s recommendations (as a matter of fact only yesterday I inaugurated the Technical Committee on the Review of National Tourism Development
Master Plan)
3.  Realising the need to develop new partnerships and synergies based on concrete mutual understanding and cooperation, we decided to revitalize Nigeria’s long-standing membership of the global body on tourism, the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). That decision has proven to be prescient, as the UN agency has offered to assist us in key areas, such as the review of the Tourism Master Plan and the resuscitation of the PCT, which I talked about earlier. In fact, starting from the 5th of December 2016 the Ministry will be hosting a sectoral support mission being fielded to Nigeria by the UNWTO. As part of our efforts to attract tourists to Nigeria, we also used the opportunity of this year’s World Tourism Day, on 27 Sept, to showcase one of the tourists attractions in the country, the Eko Atlantic City, whose shopping will be the largest of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa.
4.  Distinguished Senators, having identified lack of capacity building and the absence of entrepreneurship and private sector economic development in the Creative Industry, we have signed two MoUs in order to address these and other issues. One of the MoUs is with the Tony Elumelu Foundation. This will, among others, promote entrepreneurship and private sector development, create the best framework to support innovation, growth and the productivity of the Industry which will consequently increase its contribution to the Nigerian Economy, create an enabling business environment for the industry with incentives to easy access to finance, establish a well-structured creative industry that generates independent revenue locally in addition to boosting exports to increase Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings and also achieve a comprehensive database of the Creative Industry, its players, size and projection to guide prospective local and foreign investors.
5.  On the other hand, the MoU with the British Council will, among others, help in capacity building for festival managers. facilitate
advocacy to promote investment opportunities, facilitate the mapping of the Creative Industry, support the dissemination of research findings on the rapid assessment of the Creative Industry skills in Nigeria and research insight on the festival scene in Nigeria, in addition to sharing relevant research recommendations that support
efficient delivery of Abuja Carnival.
6.   It is common knowledge that culture drives tourism. That means any attempt to make tourism a foreign exchange earner and job creator must first start with having a vibrant Culture sub-sector. This explains why we have also been working very hard in the past one year to strengthen the sub-sector. Specifically, we are working with the
relevant states to revive some festivals that have grown moribund in recent years, such as the Argungun Festival and The Durbar, and to create a time-table of festivals across the country for the benefit of tourists. We have also been, as much as our schedule permits, increasing our visibility at the various festivals across the country with a view to encouraging the organizers. We have also widened our horizon on the external front. In August, we actively participated at the Edinburgh International Cultural Festival and got a great insight into what our own festivals can be. There is no doubt that our participation at the Policy Round Table on Cultural Heritage and Tourism and on the Digital Platform at the Edinburgh Festival will further strengthen the strategic objectives of our Ministry.
7.   We have also taken a concrete step to provide the enabling environment for our movie industry to thrive. Nollywood, which like our music has traveled very far, has risen the top three in the world even without government support. Now we need to support this burgeoning industry by creating the necessary regulatory environment.
In April, we set up a committee to review the draft bill for the establishment of the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON), I am glad to inform you, Honourable Members, that the committee submitted its report to me this past Monday, paving the way for us to kick-start the process of making the Council a reality. We will be counting
heavily on your support in this regard.
8.   In the Music industry, the Ministry partnered with the organizers of the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) earlier this month to organize their
2016 edition. I also participated in the AFRIMA Round Table that explored the role of music in championing social justice and advocacy.
9.   Let me also inform you that the Lagos State Government has acceded to our request to help redesign and modernize the National Museum in Lagos into world-class historical hub and tourist site. The design work is ready and the project is about to kick off. We are also in the process of redesigning and rebuilding the Artists Village at the National Theatre in Lagos.
10.   Also ongoing is the Nigeria-UNESCO-Japanese Trust Fund for the effective implementation of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Nigeria for a period of 36 months. Already, the Community-based workshop and inventory has commenced in the three pilot communities: Oyo, Calabar and Bida. This is to promote better visibility of Intangible Cultural Heritage and create awareness of its significance and functions in society, and also to ensure that our national obligation under the 2003 UNESCO Convention is enhanced with regards to policy and legal frameworks.
11. On the Bilateral front, we are working to activate symbiotic relationships which we have struck with over 50 countries through Bilateral Cultural Agreements that entail cultural interactions in the field of creative arts, exchange of scholars, joint exhibitions, performances and other cultural related expositions. There is no need entering into Bilateral Agreements that will only be sitting on the shelf.
12. Distinguished Senators, within the overall goal of this Administration to diversify the economy and create jobs, we are committed to bringing the Culture and Tourism Industry into the mainstream of the economy, as more and more countries are now doing, having realized that total dependence on commodities as foreign exchange earners is transient, at best. We will continue to build on the dynamism that we have evolved in the past year, and will continue to count on your invaluable
13. Once again, I welcome you to our Ministry and I thank you for your kind attention