The 3-day National Summit on Culture and Tourism, with the theme, “Repositioning Culture and Tourism in a Diversified Economy” organized by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, held 27th to 29th April, 2016, at the Congress Hall, Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, with stakeholders in the Nigerian Culture and Tourism sector canvassing unanimously for an apolitical approach by government in collaboration with the private sector towards reaping the gold mine, which the sector’s potentials represent.
Echoing this position at the Summit during the 1st plenary session was Professor Mabel Evwierhoma of the University of Abuja, one of the discussants, who averred that, ‘culture is central to governance and governance is central to tourism’; therefore, the issue of maintenance of our cultural products and national heritage and monuments for marketability is imperative.
She noted that the question of what indigenous cultural and tourism products and/or cultural heritage and national monuments are for sale; who gets to buy them; and why sell them in the first place, are issues to be approached apolitically, so as to ensure that Government and the people benefit tremendously from the rich potentials inherent in the culture and tourism sector.
The issues of governance in the administration of culture raised by the Chairman of the 1st plenary session, Professor Wole Soyinka, in his address, represented by Dr. Wale Adeniran, and copyright policies towards protecting the intellectual properties of artists, artisans and authors in the sector, as raised in a paper, entitled, “Culture in a Diversified Economy” by Mr. Frank Aig-Imoukhuede, as well as the extensive exposition of step-by-step measures in choosing our unique indigenous tourism brands, establishing tourism marketing mentality and environment in our people and communities towards a mutually beneficial economic gain of bottom-top distribution of wealth, presented in the 2nd paper, entitled, “Tourism in a Diversified Economy” by His Excellency, Mr. Donald Duke, former Governor of Cross River State, were also advocated for.
Professor Evwierhoma called on Nigerians to aspire toward lofty heights by doing away with the secret, pathological hatred that has killed culture and tourism in the country where we shake hands, embrace each other and we discuss as brothers who want progress and unity while in public; but behind closed doors in the confines of our homes, we plant seeds of discord in our children by playing the ethnic card in cultural matters that ought to really unite us as a people.
She maintained that for Nigeria to really experience the change mantra of the present administration and reap from the gold mine in the culture and tourism sector, the citizenry must imbibe the words of the third and fourth lines in the first stanza of the old National Anthem: ‘Though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand’, saying, “We must speak to the issues that confront us as a people; we must behave as a nation that has to survive by acting as a country that wants to survive and look for those means of survival”.
According to the university don, if what it takes to bring about that survival is for the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to come up with policies for Nigeria’s survival, then the time to do that is now, seeing that the country is plagued by grave challenges, which touch on matters that have to do with the corporate existence of the country.
This position is imperative, she noted, because as things stand in Nigeria today, if nothing is done urgently to curb the decline of our cultural values, the overdependence on foreign cultural products, the breaking of the cultural cords that bind us as a people and the utmost destruction of national monuments and heritages, then in five to ten years time, there would be nothing left to refer to, in terms of our national tangible and intangible cultural heritage.
Other discussants at the plenary session included Prof. Ahmed Yerima, Prof. Moh’d Umar-Buratai, Chief Tope Awe and Dr. Paul Adalikwu.
NICO HQ, Abuja