The Honourable Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, has called on the Bank of Industry (BOI), Sovereign Wealth Fund and Infrastructure Bank of Nigeria, to develop structures that will strengthen the creative sector, saying it will in turn, give Nigerian youths platforms to express themselves.
Duke made this call at the opening ceremony of a 2-Day programme organized by the ministry in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Information at the Ladi Kwali Hall, Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja on Tuesday, 22nd April, 2014, to mark the 2014 National Creativity Week, which had as theme, “Creativity: A Panacea for Transforming Nigeria’s Economy and Job Creation.”
The Culture Minister, who disclosed that for a very long period of time, he has tried to convince a number of people, especially government that the new frontier for the diversification of Nigeria’s economy is the creative sector but often times has not been taken seriously, expressed satisfaction that with the re-basing of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it is clear that the creative sector, which was hitherto, neglected has indeed made a phenomenal growth that has helped to diversify the nation’s economy.
His words: “I am extremely proud of the work that we have done. From the boys and the girls in this room and all across the country, from those who believe in themselves and have committed themselves to work in this sector, I think a new page has been opened in the appreciation of the contribution of the creative sector to our economy. A new page is being opened in the self-belief of our young men and women because, often times, family influences and peer groups tend to make us a bit uncertain about the direction in which we want to go and we begin to falter our steps with trepidation because we are worried about what people are going to say about us. Even our self-estimation wavers because often times communities, society and families believe that there are only about half a dozen professional callings in all of man’s life time and so if you were not a medical doctor, an engineer, an architect, etc., then you have not made a success of your life.”
Duke further disclosed that his pride lies in the fact that the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) might be the governor of the paper money of Nigeria but he remains the Governor of the Tangible and Intangible Assets of Nigeria, stressing, “I am the custodian of the common wealth of Nigeria outside of oil and gas because in 170 million Nigerians, there is an inherent talent, a capability in each and every one of us just waiting for manifestation. There is need for us to go back into the privacy of our homes and offices and take a look. What is it that you think is embedded in you that you think with a little bit of activation or mentoring would blossom into something unbelievable?” he stated.
Speaking about the mystery of creativity, Duke maintained that it is a matter of faith and belief to be able to translate the things that look intangible and almost meaningless to people around us and make them turn from waste to wealth, as the creative sector is the only sector where people go to bed poor and wake up rich.
“Do you know that when you pick up a piece of canvass (paper), it looks plane and empty but when everybody has gone away, you pick up a few brushes and paint and mess around the plane sheet of paper and at the end of the day, you manage to frame it, you have additional money. Somebody walks around and looks at it and says, ‘This is a wonderful abstract piece of work. How did you manage to get this? How did you think about this collage of colours? How did you blend them? What was in your mind?’ And even you yourself will be wondering what it was all about; but tell me if you put a price of N250,000 on it, somebody will buy it and your miracle has come overnight. So, that is the power of the creative sector: your ability to turn absolute, virtual nothing into something,” he said.
Talking about the film industry, the Minister said there is something about Nigeria, that with the richness of our culture, Nigerian would-be movie stars do not need to go to the film academies in New York saying, “Wherever the Nigerian movie script is, it is something that belongs to our culture; it is something that is around our heritage sites, something that you and I know about so we just kind of fit in and when you think of the fact that there are 170 million people in this country, you will see that there are almost 100 million stories yet to be told. So, your script is still waiting for you to write.”
He went further to state thus: “We are such an unbelievably rich country that we have not even exploited a tip of the ice berg and when you look in various sectors, you will find out that this is true. Take, for instance, music, today; the rate of production of music is unbelievable. This is one country where before you know it, there is a new music star so much that we have started to lose count; and what are they drawing from? They are drawing form our own culture and rhythms across our land.”
Duke expressed satisfaction that one of the things that makes him proud to be involved in creativity is that it is the only sector where one qualifies as a medical doctor, work in hospitals for a couple of years and is tired of the environment and says his/her passion is in the creative sector, such as fashion design, cake designing, wedding planning, and so on, whereas you will hardly see an artist saying he/she is so frustrated about his creative works and now wants to be a surgeon or so, further averring that the creative sector is the only sector that accommodates all kinds of professional competences.
Also expressing optimism that the Nigerian youths will continue to be inquisitive, committed, passionate and courageous about what they want for their future and the country, Duke said he believes in the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, which, for the first time, is committing resources and paying attention to the creative industry.