- Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that art and culture was not only a means of wealth creation and poverty reduction, but could also earn foreign exchange for the country. The Nigerian leader in particular had the tourism industry in mind.
The Nigerian President was speaking to a delegation from the Nike Research Centre for Arts and Culture, Abuja, at State House on Wednesday. He told the Managing Director of the Centre, Ms Nike Okundaye, "I share your enthusiasm, optimism, hope and aspirations for art and culture in the country and I am glad that you have already taken the right steps to get your Centre functioning."
President Obasanjo said the idea of establishing a centre for art and culture in the Federal Capital Territory was good, "though what you are trying to do will require support from the basic tourism infrastructure we already have."
The Nigerian President directed the Minister of Culture and Tourism to visit the Centre and submit a report on his findings.
Earlier, Ms Nike Okundaye had briefed President Obasanjo about the Centre and its activities, including plans to expand facilities and train students in art and culture. She also spoke about the tourism potentials of the Centre, as well as her current role in offering industrial attachment facilities to Nigerian university students of Textile Arts in her centre at Oshogbo, Osun State.
Nigeria for the last two years has led an active policy to promote tourism. While the country has a wealth of cultural and natural riches that should attract tourists, the industry has remained rather small. The government attributes this to the bad infrastructure of the sector and the country's bad reputation abroad.
Arts and culture are already the main attraction for foreign tourists going to Nigeria - in particular traditional handicraft and historic sites. The government of President Obasanjo had dedicated rather limited funds to restore and maintain cultural sites and artefacts.
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