Fed Govt to launch new culture policy, establish endowment fund for arts

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has revealed the Federal Government’s plan to launch a National Policy on Culture as well as National Policy on Tourism.

Speaking in Lagos yesterday at a media briefing to unveil his ministry’s agenda for the culture and tourism sector, he reiterated the government’s determination to lift the creative industry and make the country a tourism hub.While reeling out his agenda to build on the gains of the past four years, he said plans were on to create the necessary legal framework for the sector.

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The Guardian gathered that there was an attempt at reviewing the culture policy in 2008, some 21 years after it was formulated, but the exercise came rather late. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) guidelines, a cultural policy shall be reviewed at least once in eight years. So, it was more than twice a belated exercise. Also, due to the restricted circulation of the text, it wasn’t addressed to the Nigerian people as sovereign owners.

This contrasted sharply with the case in 1988 when culture administrators mobilised universities, journalists, trade unionists, civil society representatives, among others, to make their input to the implementation strategies. But the belated 2008 exercise wasn’t like that. It was handled rather perfunctorily, without any serious demonstration of commitment. The document was not given the legal teeth to make it justiceable.

Mohammed noted that the ministry had finalised work on the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON) Bill, which will be submitted to the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

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“The plan is to create a proper regulatory environment for the sub-sector that has put Nigeria’s name on the global map, thus attracting the much-needed investment to the sector,” he said.Aside the MOPICON Bill, the minister noted that plans were equally underway to create a legal framework for the establishment of the arts endowment fund. While reviewing the sector in the past four years, he said, “The National Summit for Culture and Tourism would now be a yearly affair, starting from the first quarter of 2020.”

In the same vein, the minister said he would “ensure a regularly meeting of the Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT) to catalyse the growth of tourism. We plan at least three meetings a year.”The ministry, he said, would organise a regional summit on culture and tourism, starting next year to work with other countries in the West Africa sub-region to foster development of the sector.Aside finalising work on and launching the country’s National Festival Calendar this year, which is geared towards attracting more tourists, there are plans to get more “sites in Nigeria inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.”

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