The Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has commended the British Council for its efforts towards the advancement of the arts and culture sector in Nigeria, urging all other stakeholders to continue in their efforts towards building the sector.

The Minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Ms. Grace Gekpe, gave this commendation in a remark at a reception, organised by the Council in Abuja to mark the closing of the UK-Nigeria 2015/2016 programme.

According to him, the just concluded programme was a major season of arts in Nigeria that was aimed at building bridges, creating new collaborations and strengthening relationships between Nigeria and the UK, where forty one (41) festival and carnival managers in Nigeria received various degrees of training among others.

Speaking on the Ministry’s vision for the arts and culture sector in Nigeria, Lai Mohammed disclosed that the ministry’s collaboration with the British Council was to effectively map the creative industries in Nigeria in order to access the values and potentials of the industry and further expose it to investors both locally and internationally.

His words: “We are working very closely with the British Council and with such international partnerships and collaborations existing between the ministry and the British Council, it is evident that the arts and culture sector in Nigeria is on its way to greater heights.

“The Ministry’s renewed ambition for the arts and culture sector is to move the creative industry into a creative economy which can compete effectively with the creative industries around the world”, he said.

While maintaining that the Federal Government in its efforts to diversify the economy has recognised culture as a critical sector for economic growth, the Minister said with the recent Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), government is committed to reviving the dwindling economic fortunes of the country by investing in programmes and activities of the arts and culture sector to harness the potentials therein for the socio-economic empowerment of our stakeholders.

He therefore stressed that the ministry will remain dedicated to policy maintenance and development of new policies and initiatives that will enhance the industry and a lot of its practitioners; supporting medium and small scale enterprises in the sector; creating incentives for private sector investors; as well as new international partnerships that will support the sector, among others, in order to achieve the aforementioned.

Meanwhile, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, His Excellency Mr. Paul Arkwright, expressed deep appreciation to the ministry for the good working relationship and opportunities accorded the Council by the Ministry to contribute to the growth of the sector, saying “We are glad to work together with the Ministry of Information and Culture to build the creative industries in Nigeria. Our desire is to make the sector a huge contributor to the Nigerian economy, just like in the UK, where the sector generates about 10 million pounds a day”.

It is worthy of note that the just closed UK-Nigeria 2015/2016 programme on arts and culture project had 31 projects around the country with the overall objective to enable people from both countries to develop lasting connections to increase opportunities for people in the creative sector.

Present at the event was the outgoing Country Director of British Council, Connie Price; the Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Associate Professor Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma; Director-General, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (ICPR), Prof. Oshita Oshita; Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Segun Runsewe; the Director-General of National Gallery of Art (NGA), Alhaji Abdullahi Muku; Barr. Neda Imasuen, representative of the Chairman, Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, Senator Matthew Urhoghide; and Ace NTA broadcaster, Mrs. Eugenia Abu, among others.

Caleb Nor

Media Assistant to ES