By Taiye Olayemi
Stakeholders in the arts and culture sectors, on Thursday in Abuja urged the Federal Government to merge the tourism and culture ministries.
They gave the recommendation in a communique issued at the end of a four-day National Stakeholders Conference on review of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST).
The review process had state commissioners for tourism, arts and culture divided into eight committees by the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), organisers of the conference.
The committees are on : skills acquisition, cultural exchange and training, funding of the arts and culture sectors, establishment of cultural states.
Others are: one state one unique product, synergy between tourism and culture, e-marketing and review of 35 editions of NAFEST.
Dr Gerald Adewole, Chairman of the review committees, said members resolved that tourism and culture should have a sole ministry because both were interwoven.
“The conference recommended that culture and tourism should remain as one ministry both at the federal and state levels to complement each other.
” And also to contribute meaningfully to the diversification efforts of government and the Gross Domestic Products of the nation.
“ Culture provides the content for the development of tourism, the conference stressed that culture and tourism are intricately interwoven and inseparable,” he said.
Adewole noted that skills acquisition programmes especially for women, youths and the physically challenged through formal education, informal, traditional skill transfer and apprenticeship was recommended in the communique.
He said that structured international exchange programmes and synergy between local and international non-governmental organisations was also recommended.
He noted that this was necessary to engender unity in diversity, promote international diplomacy for peace, enhance cross fertilisation of ideas and promote international trade.
He said the conference underscored the importance of cultural markets in the states as a means of employment and wealth creation, preservation of the rich cultural heritage and the establishment of one-stop-shop for cultural products.
“So, the establishment of cultural markets in the states to be domiciled in ministry of culture and tourism was strongly recommended.
“The conference identified sources of funding of the culture sector to include government, private sector, multinational organisations, development partners, donor agencies and charity organisations.
“It was therefore, recommended that these sources of funding should be explored by the states.
“We advise stakeholders like Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP), National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), RATTAWU to work with cultural agencies of government.
” This is with a view to ensuring sustained advocacy in order to push for the implementation of the National Endowment Fund for Arts.
“To achieve this, industry players must work together, and embark on programmes that will not only make them relevant, but indispensable stakeholders in the task of nation building.”
Adewole noted that NAFEST should be sustained, strengthened and developed to the status of a festival that needs no introduction and which encompasses all year round activities.
” This is because the festival remains a veritable platform for fostering national unity, peace, mutual understanding and cooperation among Nigerians, irrespective of ethnic group, culture, tribe or tongue.
“The festival should target different relevant audience such as diaspora community members of the academic community and the tourism sector.
“Programmes which can boost economic activities in the states should be introduced into the festival in a way that missing the hosting of the festival by a state would amount to missing a lifetime economic opportunity.”
Earlier, Chief Olusegun Runsewe, Director-General, NCAC, appreciated the committee members for a job well done.
Runsewe promised to ensure that the document of the communique gets to each state governor and the federal government for full implementation of all the resolutions.
He expressed optimism that the 2024 edition of NAFEST would be the biggest and most impactful. (NAN) (nannews.ng)
Edited by Folasade Adeniran