Lai Mohammed Unveils 4-Year Plan for Culture, Tourism Sector

Promises to work with CATEWAA 

By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News

ABUJA: The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed on Thursday, unveiled highlights of the Ministry’s  agenda for the Culture and Tourism Sector for the next four years. 

The Minister who rolled out the plan when the Culture, Arts, Tourism and Entertainment Writers’ Association, Abuja(CATEWAA), paid him a courtesy visit in his office, said the plan is not exhaustive, as they are open to new ideas.

The agenda unveiled by the Minister includes; the conclusion and launch of the National Policy on Culture as well as the National Policy on Tourism, in order to set the necessary legal framework for the sector.

Also, he stated that there are plans to finalize work on the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON) Bill and submit it 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.

According to him, We intend to, “Establish an Endowment Fund for The Arts to create a legal framework for the financing of the sector. Make the National Summit for Culture and Tourism— which we first held in April 2016—a yearly affair, starting from the first quarter of 2020.

“We plan to ensure a regular meeting of the Presidential Council on Tourism(PCT) to catalyze the growth of tourism. We plan at least three meetings a year. Kick-start the implementation of the parts of the Tourism Master Plan that constitute low-hanging fruit.

“We intend to complete work on the establishment of Tourism Statistics and Tourism Satellite Account (TSA), working with the UNWTO. We have already signed an agreement with the UNWTO in this regard. We will also institute a unified National Celebration of the World Tourism Day, instead of the current situation in which we have multiple celebrations”, he remarked.

Furthermore, he stated that they plan to hold a National Council on Culture and Tourism in May next year,and then hold it yearly thereafter, as well as organize 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 also pointed out that the Ministry plans to continue with its visits to tourist sites and attend as many festivals as possible across the country, and to finalize work on and launch of the National Festival Calendar this year, to attract more tourists, domestic and foreign, to these events.

Lastly, he stated that they will work to get more sites in Nigeria inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and also, explore private sector branding of the nation’s Cultural Centres abroad.

Speaking also on the forthcoming Abuja Carnival, he stressed on the need to restructure and make the carnival more purposeful, adding that sponsorship is the key to the carnival.

“We want it to be more impactful, colourful and we have limited it to seven items. I don’t want to go into what will not be first class but with your support, we will have a return of the carnival”, he said.

He called for the continued cooperation of the Association as the Ministry sets forth on the journey, adding that the Ministry will work with the Association to achieve her goals.

Earlier, the Chairman, Culture, Arts, Tourism and Entertainment Writers’ Association Abuja(CATEWAA), Dr. Mrs. Bridget Onoche said the meeting became imperative considering the Association’s desire to project the activities of the culture sector and to join the government in repositioning it as a viable sector of the economy.

She further added that the Association is not out to hold government ransom nor witch hunt chief executives of culture, but to collaborate with other stakeholders in giving the sector desired publicity.

In her words, “It is our collective believe that our duty as members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm would be made easier and more impactful, if we are carried along as partners in progress.

“We are optimistic that this meeting will chart a new course in our relationship. On our part, it has always been our desire to work with you and we hope that we would consequently be given the privilege to do so”.

Members of CATEWAA in a group photograph with the Minister

She called on the Minister to carry the Association along in her activities and also work to actualize the National Policy on Culture, Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON) Bill and the implementation of all the plans.

“We look forward to seeing all these things implemented, we will always want to be there with you, let us be part of your efforts so that the world will know that you are doing a whole lot in this sector,” she ended.

The association comprises of journalists from print, electronics and online media outfits who specialize in the coverage and reportage of arts and culture related activities in both public and private sectors.

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