Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Don Advocates Rebranding of Nigeria Through Arts, Culture

Repositioning of Nigerian culture will power the branding of Nigeria Project through the use of creative industry, performing arts, visual arts, film and home video (Nollywood) to improve and sustain our image and identity at home and abroad.

This assertion was made by Professor Olu Obafemi, Director of Research, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos while delivering a lecture titled "Cultural factors in national peace and implication for economic empowerment" at the 9th Honours Lecture of the National Council for Arts and Culture, NCAC, held recently in Abuja.

He said that in order to translate cultural factors to instruments of sustainable economic development and empowerment in Nigeria there is the need to increase the funding of education as this is affecting many sectors, including the development of the cultural industries, which is predicated on the quality of skills and equipment available.

"For the products of the culture industries to compete favourably in the national and international arenas, the educational system must not only be refocused, it must be properly funded. Also, Nigeria should enter the era of granting soft loans to facilitate production in the cultural industries. This should not be limited to the film industry alone. It should be extended to other sectors of the cultural industries. Most areas of the industry, like traditional crafts, need modest access to soft loans. When this is done, we shall be on our way to turning around the economic fortunes of the country for the better."

He urged the government to provide secured environment, saying without adequate security, the tourism industry cannot flourish, the cinema cannot survive, sports cannot progress, arts and exhibition cannot move on and the theatres will maintain a ghost-line existence.

"Cultural industries are perhaps the least demanding in the diversification efforts of a country. Governments, corporate citizens and endowed individuals should pool resources to make the various cultural sites, tangible cultures, arts and crafts, tourist destinations and cultural sources for rapid economic development and youth engagement," he urged.

He noted that Nigeria is a melting pot of culturally diverse ethnic nationalities that differ in history, socio-political formation, language and custom, which has left many citizens and keen observers in and outside the country continue to scratch their heads over the apparent Nigeria conundrum:

He said, "Nigeria is a nation with a tenuous political centre juggling to hold its culturally disparate constituent parts together to keep from falling apart. In other words, it is painfully obvious that the country's post-colonial Federalist structure has not been effectively constructed and/or operationalized to manage cultural diversity in a productive and progressively integrative manner. The quest for national identity against the centrifugal pull of ethno-centric cleavages remains checkered by the politicization of difference and the mobilization of primordial affiliations, which impair dispassionate development planning. In brief, "Nigeria today is still grappling with the problems of ethnic politics and ethnic or regional irredentism."

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