The House of Representatives has called on the Federal Government to direct its attention towards boosting the culture and tourism sector in the country instead of limiting it to agriculture and solid minerals, if it must succeed in its bid to diversify the economy.

Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Culture and Tourism, Honourable Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama made this call in Abuja while addressing the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed during the 2018 budget defence for the ministry and agencies under the ministry.

According to him, the culture and tourism sector holds a faster and greater capacity to boost the Nigerian economy through employment, skills acquisition and above all, bring about unity in the country.

“The Federal Government has repeatedly talked about diversifying the economy and as far as I am concerned, their diversification is more focused on agriculture and solid minerals. While I have no issues with government’s strategic plan to diversify agriculture and solid minerals, I also strongly believe that for us to achieve this; government must come up with a policy direction that will give attention to the culture and tourism sector because it is a faster way to put money in the pockets of the ordinary man in Nigeria”.

“It will generate employment; enhance skills acquisition amongst the people and at the same time, boost our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as the economy of Nigeria. We are tired of approvals from Mr. President for different sectors of the economy while we hardly hear of any approval on how to boost the culture and Tourism sector in Nigeria”.

“This is one area we want to challenge you today that in the year 2018, while you hold your Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings, you must bring these issues before Mr. President and other members of FEC. While I cannot push you people more that you can do, I assure you that if the sector is not well funded, whatever innovations or strategic plans you are developing in-house will just be a parading of documents”, he said.

He however assured that on the part of the National Assembly, the committee members will always support the ministry and all its agencies with appropriation, so far as Federal Government give attention to the culture and tourism sector, which he reiterated can, apart from boosting Nigeria’s economy, get our young people engaged as well as serve as a way of bridging the gap amongst cultures and bringing unity and peace amongst us.

To him, culture and tourism are viable avenues to bring about unity through festivals that will bring together easterners, northerners, southerners and westerners together to showcase their way of life through interactions. This, he said, government must look at it critically.

Nigeria needs to be peaceful, unity must be fostered amongst us and one very good tool is to create the cultural atmosphere where we can accommodate each other. Also the economy today can only be better boosted if we also increase the funding of the sector. Remember, Nigeria is a blessed nation where every part of the nation is endowed with cultural blessings from God and we need to bring them together, harness them and from there we can empower our teeming youths who are unemployed, he said.

Caleb Nor

Media Assistant to ES,