The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said that the creative and culture industry has a great role to play in the ongoing diversification of Nigeria’s economy, a time of dwindling earnings from crude oil.
Lai Mohammed noted this while receiving the Country Director of the British Council, Connie Price in his office in Abuja on Monday 14th of December 2015, adding that the Federal Government would not restrict its efforts at diversifying the economy to agriculture and solid minerals.
“This Government, even before knowing that the price of crude oil was going to plummet to about $38 per barrel, had promised Nigerians during its campaign that it is going to diversify the economy. Diversification of our economy is not just limited to agriculture or solid minerals or even the real sector. I think one area where we need capital investment is in the area of culture because this abounds everywhere,” he said.
”But, our biggest challenge so far is how do we harness this abundant cultural heritage and create an economy out of it? There is virtually no state in Nigeria today that cannot boast of 3, 4 or 5 cultural industries, either pottery, painting, textile making or leather works.”
The minister identified inadequate knowledge and the capacity to translate the nation’s abundant cultural heritage into a viable economy as the bane of the sector and therefore sought the assistance of the British Council to support his Ministry to surmount the challenges. He further averred that this is one area he believes the British Council can assist the country, either in the area of capacity building or in the area of infrastructure, but more importantly in the area of organising how these things work in a cooperative manner.
He also sought the support of the British Council in assisting the agencies under his Ministry to rediscover their capacity and revive the cultural industry as a major source of revenue for the nation. He expressed optimism that through the culture and creative industry, women could be empowered to acquire skills that would enable them to explore the industry and be economically independent.
The Country Director of the British Council, Connie Price in her remarks during the visit hinted that the diversification of the economy had been a huge challenge in Britain, because of the country’s over-reliance on industries. She said: “People might not realize this, but this has been an issue in the UK until very recently, particularly in the north of the country where many cities have been dependent on industries which have now gone, leaving empty factories,” she iterated.
Connie Price explained that her country had now turned its thinking cap away from mono-economic dependence by giving vent to its culture and creative industries, which are now bringing billions of Pounds into the British economy. She added that initially Britain witnessed a crisis of management in its cultural institutions because of their orientation as agencies of state that relied solely on state funding, but noted that through the diversification of the economy, the agencies had been re-orientated to think creatively, in order to earn revenue instead of depending on Government.
She expressed satisfaction with the determination of the Minister to use the culture and creative industry to empower women, indicating that the British Council is extremely committed to supporting women empowerment. The Country Director was accompanied on her courtesy visit by the Arts Director, Ojoma Ocha, and the Partnership Director, Chikoli Onyemerela. [FMI]
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