The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Thursday called on arts and culture enthusiasts to sponsor the Abuja Carnival as he expressed optimism that the event will be held this year.
Mr Mohammed said this while receiving members of the Culture, Arts, Tourism and Entertainment Writers Association (CATEWAA), Abuja on a visit to his office.
The minister who noted that organising “a befitting carnival” requires serious funding said he would rather not hold it with little funding.
He stressed the need for restructuring the cultural fiesta to be purposeful and colourful at the same time, with sponsorship from art and culture enthusiasts.
“If we restructure the carnival in a manner that our finances can handle, we will do it. The key to this is sponsorship.
“We hope to persuade culture enthusiasts and multinationals to partner with us. We are talking to a couple of them,” he said.
Mr Mohammed said 21 states had shown interest in participating at the carnival, adding that with God’s and stakeholders’ support, the carnival would be held.
Earlier, the Minister unveiled his agenda to boost development in the creative, culture and tourism industries in the next four years. He debunked the claim that he did not pay attention to the culture and tourism sectors during President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term.
“There is a misconception in certain circles that we paid more attention to the information sector than we did to Culture and Tourism.
“This may appear so because the issues we usually deal with in the information sector are those that receive the bigger play in the media,” he said.
Highlighting some achievements of its first term, the minister said the government created the Creative Industry Financing Initiative to improve access to long-term, low-cost financing for entrepreneurs and investors in the creative industry and the information technology sectors.
“Nigerian artistes should take advantage of what the FG has offered to the creative industry by reaching out to CBN for loans,” he said.
In her remarks, the president of CATEWAA, Bridget Onoche, said the meeting with the minister was imperative considering the desire of the association to project activities in the culture sector.
“Our objective is not to hold the government to ransom but to collaborate with other stakeholders in giving the sector the desired publicity. We are optimistic that this meeting will chart a new course in our relationship,” she said.
Mrs Onoche urged the minister to ensure the launch of a National Policy on Culture and Tourism.
“We look forward to a minister that actualises the National Policy on Culture because we are tired of having successive ministers promising to actualise plans on this,” she said.