‘My dream for the art, culture and tourism sector’ | The Guardian Nigeria News


Otunba Olusegun Runsewe is Chief Executive of the National Arts and Culture Council (NCAC) and Chairman of the Africa Region of the World Craft Council (WCC). He is passionate about culture, the creative industry and believes it is a sector that can save Nigeria from its struggling economy. Over the past year, it has brought together actors from the arts, culture and tourism and media sector in an interactive session to exchange views, opinions, knowledge and experiences on the how this very important sector can be strengthened as a vehicle for wealth creation and sustainable development. economic development in Nigeria. GREGORY AUSTIN NWAKUNOR was there.

• Beyond the Oil Economy: The Diversification Option for Nigeria

In the wake of current economic realities and with the collapse of the COVID-19 pandemic globally, nations around the world are exploring various ways to develop their economies. With Nigeria’s rich and diverse cultural resources and given the abundant tourism resources, it stands to reason that if we are to diversify our economy, we must look outside of crude oil, which is currently the main source of foreign currency, and we focus on arts, culture and tourism as one of the key players in our economic development.

The near total reliance on the export of crude oil as a source of our foreign exchange earnings has significantly slowed the pace of development in other sub-sectors of the economy such as agro-industry, manufacturing, solid minerals and the service industry, among others. others.

The gradual fall in the prices of petroleum products and the resulting shock to Nigeria’s economy has made it very imperative for Nigeria to pursue a sustained process of economic diversification, if we are to achieve the economic stability and development of which we have so much need. It is now clear to all that Nigeria can no longer continue to depend solely on the export of crude oil.

While I was the Managing Director of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation between 2006 and 2013, my policy orientation was summed up in the slogan “oil is good but tourism is better because oil is exhaustible so that tourism is sustainable and respectful of the environment”.

At the Leadership Conference held at the International Conference Center on April 28, 2009, I had the privilege of speaking on Beyond Oil: Options for Diversification. In this article, I have drawn attention to the need for Nigeria to start looking outside of oil in its quest for development. I also shared these thoughts during the ECOWAS Congress on Sports Development in West Africa, held in Abuja on 10-11 August 2011.
The economy of Nigeria before the advent of oil

Nigeria’s pre-oil economy was based on agriculture. In the 19th century, when Britain was transitioning from an agriculture-based economy to industrialization, Nigeria prospered with its strong agriculture-based economy. In the 1950s and early 1960s, agriculture retained its position as the main contributor to the Nigerian economy. By 1959, cocoa had become Nigeria’s main source of foreign exchange. Nigeria was also one of the top three groundnut producers in the world at that time. There was strong production of cash and subsistence crops such as rubber, which accounted for about 6% of total exports in the late 1950s, coffee, cotton, guinea maize, beans, yams, maize, cassava and rice. The mining, manufacturing, commerce, trade and services sector accounted for about 25%.

Prior to 1970, agriculture contributed over 75% of Nigeria’s export earnings. Since then, however, agriculture has stagnated, partly due to government neglect, low investment, and environmental factors such as drought, flooding, disease, and reduced soil fertility. By the mid-1990s, agriculture’s share of the country’s exports had fallen to less than 5%, giving way to crude oil as the mainstay of the economy.

The discovery of oil
The 1950s can generally be considered the decade of the great oil discoveries. The discovery of oil in commercial quantities at Oloibiri in 1956 was a major economic breakthrough for Nigeria. From a modest start in the 1950s, oil production accelerated rapidly in the 1950s. Rising demand for oil gave a big boost to the Nigerian economy at a time when incomes of its traditional cash crops were declining due to lower prices on the world market.

In 1974, after the first rise in oil prices, Nigeria was producing 2.2 million barrels of oil per day. The 1970s were a period of strong impetus in the national economy resulting from the oil boom.

As oil prices and production fell dramatically in the 1980s, Nigeria again experienced a bonanza in the export of crude oil during the Gulf War. Since then, the country’s economy has remained largely dependent on crude oil.

The danger of the mono-product economy
For about five decades or more, the exploration and export of crude oil has dominated Nigeria’s economy. While in most other oil-producing countries, the export of crude oil provides the revenue needed to develop and strengthen other sectors of the economy; it would seem that the discovery of oil in Nigeria was accompanied by misfortunes.

Indeed, Nigeria’s oil wealth has tended to cloud our sense of initiative and our economic vision, while promoting a national culture of unbridled corruption, laziness, opportunism and a primitive tendency towards acquisition.

In addition to the almost total neglect effect that the oil economy has had on other critical sectors, the fluctuation of world prices for petroleum products has continued to pose a great threat to the stability of our economy, thus making it extremely difficult to plan effective on a sustainable basis. For example, while the international price of crude oil rose to over $100 per barrel in 2013, it fell to $28 per barrel in 2016, well below the budget benchmark of $38 per barrel for 2016. .

Culture, tourism and economic development
Culture has to do with the sum total of the beliefs and ways of life of a people in a given society. This includes their customs and costumes, language, festivals, food, folklores, dance, drama, songs, arts, artifacts, etc. There is a complex relationship between culture and tourism. Indeed, culture provides the basic content of tourism.

In fact, there can be no sustainable tourism without strong cultural content, as almost all tourism activities are culture-based.

A cursory look at tourism-rich economies such as the UK, Israel, China and France reveals a common and consistent pattern of cultural tourism, with culture being the primary motivation for tourism.

In Europe, the role of culture in development shows that the arts enrich the social environment with stimulating or pleasant public facilities. Along the same lines, China and Australia underscored that the culture and tourism sector contributes to economic development by facilitating creativity, innovation and self-reflection and, as such, recognizes culture as a key element of the well-being of society. In fact, cultural industries have become for China, the base station from which it develops and updates its technological advancement and well-being.

Nigeria is known to be one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world. It has over 250 distinct ethnic groups, each with unique culture and cultural products. Nigeria’s rich and diverse cultural assets have the ability to support a robust tourism industry and drive the process of socio-economic development if adequately explored. In what follows, we will attempt to explain some aspects of Nigerian culture that could serve as key drivers for sustainable tourism and economic development in Nigeria if fully harnessed.

Cultural festivals
Nigeria has rich and fascinating cultural festivals. Many of these festivals are already on the world cultural map and are attracting patronage from an international audience. Some of the most prominent festivals in Nigeria include Osun-Osogbo Festival in Osun State, Eyo Festival in Lagos State, Argungu and Nwonyo Fishing Festivals in Kebbi and Taraba festivals respectively, Pus Kat and Bit Geomai festivals in Plateau State, New Yam festivals in various parts of south-eastern Nigeria, Durbar in northern part of Nigeria, boat regatta in South-South and National Arts and Culture Festivals (NAFEST), NCAC’s annual cultural festival.

It is important to note that festival events serve as a catalyst that attracts leisure enthusiasts to destinations with high tourism potential. This means that visitors are likely to spend more days in a given destination when attracted by cultural festivals in that destination. This long stay contributes to improving the income base of the population, which also has an impact on the local economy.

For a nation as large as Nigeria with a rich and diverse culture, one statewide festival would go a long way in attracting tourists to the country, thereby contributing to the development of the economy through spending on hotel accommodation, patronage of local cuisines, transport, purchase of arts and crafts, among others.

Accordingly, the NCAC is developing a calendar of festivals to let tourists know when to vacation in Nigeria and savor the rich cultural manifestations it has to offer.

Nigeria Music and Songs
Another related product of our cultural industry that can be leveraged and developed to boost arrivals is our traditional music. People’s art is an integral part of their daily activities. This rich cultural heritage, which includes myths, legends, folklores and traditional music, is cherished in Nigeria and other parts of the world. The unique selling point of our indigenous music as a tool for tourism is their flavor and the Nigerian character of their performance. This special and distinctive characteristic of our traditional music has attracted tourists from all over. If greater and more conscious efforts are made to harness and develop this aspect of our heritage, it could serve as a major driver of our tourism industry.

It should be noted that Nigerian music is pretty much the most popular in the world. From Fela’s Afrobeat, Chief Ebenezer Obey, King Sunny Ade to the most recent 2 Face, Wizkid, Burna Boy, Nigeria boasts of internationally renowned musical icons. For example, Burna Boy, a Nigerian music artist won the Best Global Music Album 2021 at the Grammy Awards with the album titled Twice As Tall. In a similar vein, Wizkid also recently won Best Music Video in his song with Beyonce titled Brown Skin Girl. The above highlights the global exploits of Nigerian musical artists as well as the popularity and patronage of their music around the world. Sustained musical concerts in the atmosphere of Nigerian cities could attract the music-loving world to Nigeria and have a positive impact on our economy.

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