Lagos State Government and Asa Day Worldwide (ADW) have called for proper funding of the creative and cultural sector to grow the economy.
The President of ADW, Mr Olaniyi Oyatoye, made the call at a news conference on the Lagos Asa Day 2021 in Ikeja on Monday.
He said that Nigeria stood a great chance of surviving the current economic lapse if it could focus more on cultural tourism.
Oyatoye said that Nigeria’s vast and rich cultural heritage should be strategically repositioned for tourism to lift the country’s economy.
He said that cultural tourism could proffer solutions to numerous challenges facing the country, like unemployment, social vices, massive rural to urban migration and overdependence on crude oil as a source of revenue.
According to him, Nigeria ranks 131 out of 141 countries with a tourism competitiveness index in 2015, hence, still miles away from the countries that make money from tourism development.
”There is the urgent need for meaningful and sustainable financing of the cultural development and multinational organisations in Nigeria.
”The arts, culture and tourism sector has been denied government attention and financial empowerment.
”If properly funded, the creative and cultural industries would enhance and strengthen the growth of the economy as well as contribute to stem youth restiveness and criminality.
”In securing our future, Nigeria should harness her cultural resources and revitalise them and teach the children in schools because our education curriculum does not teach, promote or sustain our cultural heritage.
”We should develop a sense of pride in ourselves and in our culture as a people and become self-sufficient,” he said.
Oyatoye said that the country should learn from the Asian Tiger countries that in spite of modernisation, Christianity and Islam stuck to their culture and traditions, hence, were advancing faster than African nations.
He said that Nigeria was at par with some of these Asian Tiger countries at independence in 1960 but they had now outstripped Nigeria and it had become consumers of their products.
The ADW president said that the cultural socialisation of the country must be emphasised for future development.
”Culture is the bedrock of human civilisation, without which no nation can make economic, social and political advancement.
”In this regard, the Nigerian government should make arts, culture and tourism priority areas in the nation’s economic development projects.
”The government should embark on an aggressive attitudinal change campaign that will benefit the people through educational reform at all levels as a way of re-moulding the character of the younger generation.
”Cultural tourism calendar of events across the country should be developed to serve as a guide to both local and foreign tourists.
”As a matter of urgency, we should revive and speak our native languages to our children because our languages embody our culture. If our native languages die, our culture will die a natural death with it,” he said.
Oyatoye said that it was on this note that the organisation, in collaboration with the Lagos State Government is organising the ”Lagos Asa Day 2021”, holding on Nov. 21.
Mr Solomon Bonu, the Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Tourism, Arts and Culture, spoke on the concept of the forthcoming Asa Day celebration.
Bonu said the celebration was borne out of the genuine desire to continually promote and preserve the indigenous culture of the Yoruba race.
He said that the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture prioritised the preservation of cultural heritage, hence, supporting lofty ideas by individuals, directed toward promoting cultural heritage including indigenous music, food, dressing and language.
He said that the ministry had identified the need to encourage more individuals to produce locally-made items that could be purchased the different tourism sites.
According to him, cultural enthusiasts should key into the initiative and begin to innovate creative items that can be exported to other countries, whenever they visit Lagos State.
”These cultural items should speak to our identity and resilience as a state and should be targeted toward promoting our uniqueness as a state that places a premium on cultural renaissance and preservation,” Bonu said. (NAN)