The Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has charged stakeholders in the culture sector to use the creative content and infrastructure in the heads of artistes in the industry to boost the economy of Nigeria.

Lai Mohammed gave this charge during a 2-Day Stakeholders Meeting for the 2016 edition of the Abuja Carnival, organized by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with the Federal Capital Development Administration (FCDA) at Nanet Suites, Central Business District, Abuja.

The Minister, while addressing participants, said, “we must make this 2016 Abuja Carnival ‘a carnival of all carnivals’ because I know that we have what it takes to so do”; noting that, while the country needs a lot of money and infrastructure to diversify other areas of the economy, “we do not need so much in the creative industry to achieve that diversification because the contents and infrastructure we need are in the heads of the individuals working in the sector”. 

Regretting that successive administrations had only paid lip-service to the creative industry, which is unfortunate because the industry is the most successful in terms of revenue generation for the country, Lai Mohammed reiterated that, “we should go for the masterpiece in this year’s carnival” to maximize the economic benefits to be derived from the showpiece.

While buttressing and reiterating the importance of the economic benefits of the Abuja Carnival, if properly harnessed and supported by both government and the private sector, the Minister stated that the Ministry has resolved to repackage the Carnival to meet the standards of world class carnivals, like the Notting Hill Carnival in the United Kingdom, to ensure it contributes immensely to the internally generated revenue (IGR) and add to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

He therefore used the opportunity of the meeting to charge stakeholders in the culture sector, who he noted, are the custodians of Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage, to use the 2016 Abuja Carnival Stakeholders Meeting to strategize on positive ways and means of developing the carnival in line with global best practices, leveraging on the country’s population, its multi-national cultural heritage and creative industries.

Lai Mohammed further urged participants at the meeting to bring their technical and professional expertise to bear in deliberating and contributing significantly to the success of the Abuja Carnival 2016, so as to serve as a benchmark for subsequent editions.

Also in her address, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Mrs. Ayotunde Adesugba, who was represented by the Director, Entertainment and Creative Industries in the Ministry, Ms Grace Gekpe, called for the recognition of the economic potentials of the Abuja Carnival as the panacea for its sustainability.

The Permanent Secretary informed that stakeholders should recognize the economic potentials of the Carnival and use it to drive growth and development of Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME’s) sector of the Nigerian economy, as this will go a long way in sustaining the carnival, noting that the theme of this year’s edition, “Creative Industry: A Pivot to Economic Growth”, was apt, especially as the government of the day is determined to use the creativity in the culture and tourism sector to boost the nation’s economy.

According to Adesugba, Nigeria as a country is blessed with diverse cultures, thus we ought to see these diversities to our advantage, because in the diversities lie our strength for peaceful coexistence and nation building; and that there was nee to use the various cultural and creative potentials to empower and create jobs as well as wealth for the teeming unemployed youths and women in the country.

This gesture would enable them live sustainable and productive lives, as the carnival is a platform that accommodates the unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled citizens, hence serving as an avenue of generating business opportunities for singers, song writers, choreographers, costume designers, fashion designers, technical designers, makeup artists, painters and musicians, Adesugba stated.

Earlier, the Director, International Cultural Relations in the Ministry, Nkanta George Ufot, in reading the opening remarks of the Minister, had noted that, the theme of the 2016 Abuja Carnival, “Creative Industry: A Pivot to Economic Growth”, was in line with the present administration’s determination to reposition the Culture and Tourism sector for economic diversification, in view of the dwindling revenue from oil.

He informed that as the nation’s oil reserve is fast depleting, the culture sector is strategically poised to play a key role in stimulating Nigeria’s economy, maintain that Nigeria is a great nation endowed with diverse cultural heritage, and that a thriving multi-sectoral creative industry which should serve as a key contributor to economic growth of the country as well as an avenue for employment generation is imperative.

According to him, the Abuja Carnival, established in 2005, was conceived as a unique platform that provides the nation the desired leverage for effective soft-power diplomacy, geared towards the positive promotion of the enormous potentials of Nigeria’s unique and vibrant cultural and creative endowments.

This soft-power diplomacy is possible because the Abuja Carnival brings together both indigenous and foreign tourists to witness the remarkable display of artistic creativity and cultural tourism; therefore, the harnessing of this carnival, will not only showcase Nigeria’s diverse cultural potentials but also provide a veritable platform to promote the country’s multi-cultural creative ingenuity, locally and internationally, for economic growth, productivity and infrastructure development.

It will be recalled that the Abuja Carnival Management Committee organises stakeholders’ consultative meetings at the zonal and national levels to sensitize leaders of the states’ contingents as a prelude to the carnival in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. 

Jonathan Nicodemus

Corporate Affairs

NICO HQ, Abuja