The Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alahaji Lai Mohammed has said that the neglect of culture is responsible for the failure of development agenda of many countries.
He stated, this in his welcome address at the opening ceremony of the Annual Roundtable on Cultural Orientation (ARTCO), organized by National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) just as the Executive Governor of Edo State, His Excellency, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, said without culture no nation or human being will have identity.
The Minister who was represented by Augustus Babajide Ajibola, Director Entertainment and Creative Services of the Ministry, said it was the importance of culture to economic development that informed Mohammadu Buhari-led administration‘s focus on creative industries.
Commending NICO for the idea behind the programme, the Minister described ARTCO as wonderful, saying the theme was in consonance with the evolutionary change, as the policy of the administration.
He added that the timing of the event was appropriate, especially at this moment the government was committed to the diversification of Nigerian economy. He asserted, “it is my honour to welcome you all to the 2018 edition of ARTCO by NICO in accordance with its statutory objectives. I commend the Institute for this wonderful initiative. It is in line with the policy thrust of this administration. Culture is a major pillar of sustainable development. This is why neglect or non-recognition of culture is responsible for the failure of development agenda of many countries. It is imperative that we see culture as the veritable catalyst for sustainable development. The policy of this government is geared towards creative industries as harbingers of change and to create a value chain of wealth creation and alleviation of poverty.”
The Minister further said that it was in respect of this that culture was recently granted the pioneer status under the Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act No 22 of 1971 cap 117 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 (IDITRA). This means that any direct foreign investment or an inflow that is up to One Hundred Million Naira (N 100, 000, 000) attracts an immediate tax rebate and holiday of three years.
Governor Obaseki represented by Hon. Osaze Osemwegie-Ero, the Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, Edo State, said the new direction for any country to make it big in modern time is culture and tourism, because culture is way of life of the people passed on from one generation to the other. Tourism is a cultural heritage that remains all the time and will never dry.
Calling for promotion of culture, he said it should be treated as a viable aspect of Nigerian economy, because, “culture can create enormous wealth for a nation just like oil. Let us treat culture as our new oil. Culture should be boosted very seriously. This informed why we give culture prominence in Edo State. We interface with many cultures to create sustainable cultural diplomacy. Please before you go find time to visit some cultural and tourist sites and attractions in Edo State. You will enjoy them.
The Acting Executive Secretary, NICO, Mr Louis Eriomala, in his remarks said ARTCO was an intellectual platform designed by NICO to bring together scholars, interest groups, stakeholders to exchange ideas on specific topical issues. He recalled that the last themes have contributed to the healthy growth of Nigerian culture, saying that the 2018 theme, Mainstreaming Culture in the Nation’s Economic Agenda was fashioned out to enhance the contribution of culture to the Nigerian Gross Domestic Product and sustainable Development
The event took place at the Prestige Hotel Event Hall, Airport Road, Benin City, Edo State. It was graced by His Excellency, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the Executive Governor of Edo State, the Special Guest of Honour, represented by Hon. Osaze Osemwegie-Ero, the Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, Edo State; the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the chief host, represented by Augustus Babajide Ajibola, Director Entertainment and Creative Services of the Ministry; the Acting Executive Secretary of NICO, Mr. Louis Eriomala; Professor Sam Guobadia, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Ben Idahosa University, Benin; Professor Eghosa Osagie of Benson Idahosa University; Prof. Austin Asagba, Prof. Chris Ugolo, Prof. Kokunre Eghafona; all University of Benin; Prof Ben Omojimite, Delta State University; Director-General NTA, Mallam Yakubu Ibn Mohammed, represented by Pauline Igbanor of Zone D NTA Benin; Mrs Ivie Igbinoba, an indigenous language writer in Edo, state among others