The Federal Government, led by President Bola Tinubu, on Tuesday said it would work to quadruple the annual budget allocation for the creative and entertainment industry to establish the sector as the top creative force in Africa.
Vice President Kashim Shettima affirmed this commitment at the Art, Culture and Creative Economy Roundtable hosted by the Federal Ministry of Art, Culture, and Creative Economy at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said, “I want to call on the gentleman seated here, the Honourable Minister of Budget and Economic Planning (Abubakar Bagudu), to kindly jack up and quadruple the budget for the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy.”
Attended by key figures in the creative sector, including notable actors, Tuesday’s confab highlighted the government’s new focus, where the VP praised Nigerian artists for their global achievements and financial success in foreign countries.
Shettima apologised for the previous governments’ lack of attention to the industry and emphasised the administration’s plan to rectify past neglect.
He stated, “It is through your talents that we refused the caricatured image and unveiled the true essence of Nigeria’s creative minds. So, on behalf of the Nigerian government, allow me to extend our profound and sincere gratitude.
“Thankfully, our President, my boss, is the architect of the nation’s entertainment hub and there’s a reason your industry refers to him as City Boy.
“President Bola Tinubu is not only cosmopolitan, a man of arts and culture, in tune with the realities of your industry, but he has also acknowledged your industry is a critical segment of the global economy.”
He added that the roundtable allows industry leaders to deliberate and recommit themselves to fostering an environment that nurtures creativity, innovation, and inclusivity.
The VP opined that, more than ever, there is a need to amplify the voices of Nigeria’s creative minds and, power her best talents and harness the unbridled potential that lies within the pulse of the nation’s diverse cultural tapestry.
He said the meeting is not just to chart a course celebrating past achievements. Instead, “it is for us to pave the way for an even brighter, more inclusive and prosperous future for Nigeria’s creative economy, for it is through such synergy that we shall continue to ascend to greater heights and cement Nigeria’s rightful place as the unrivaled creative powerhouse in Africa,” said the VP.
Therefore, “We are going to walk the talk; this is not empty verbosity; we will support you and create the enabling environment for you to excel. You have come this far in spite of us, not because of us.”
Describing President Tinubu as a man with passion, zeal and commitment to redefining the industry, Shettima urged stakeholders to “rally around him and move our nation forward.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Art, Culture and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa, outlined her strategic vision at the roundtable.
She highlighted five critical pillars of the ministry’s vision: policy reforms, cultural plans, and an ambitious economic plan to create millions of jobs and contribute 10 per cent to the nation’s GDP, targeting around N100bn by 2030.
She also unveiled the ministry’s vision and agenda for the creative Sector, partly encapsulated in the ‘Destination 2023, Nigeria Everywhere’ initiative – a soft power programme to showcase Nigeria’s abundant talents in the creative Sector.
She explained, “We have developed an extremely robust economic plan aimed at creating millions of jobs, supported by comprehensive skills training programs.
“Our objective is to contribute 10 per cent of the nation’s GDP, expanding the sectoral GDP to a remarkable N100bn by 2030.
“However, since we have the support of the great Director himself, to give us the sort of support, I think we can push ourselves further to see if we can leap-frog to reach that N300bn benchmark by 2030,” she said.
Special Assistant to the President on Digital and Creative Economy, Fegho Umunubo, expressed confidence in achieving the N100bn target by 2030.
On his part, the CEO of Prembly, Lanre Ogungbe, noted the vibrancy of Nigeria’s creative industry, expressing optimism about its potential impact on millions of people.
The Managing Director of Providus Bank, Walter Akpani, who spoke about the industry’s job creation and international image enhancement, also emphasised its role in generating foreign exchange.
The Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Hadejia, stated the administration’s dedication to developing the art and creative industry. This commitment is tied to its potential for job creation, he said,
Industry practitioners also shared their expectations from the roundtable. They expressed their readiness to partner with the FG on its new focus on the Sector.
Legendary comedian Ali Baba acknowledged the industry’s need for more support and attention. Ali Baba said he believes the current administration’s plans could significantly benefit the Sector.
Actor Yul Edochie, who echoed these sentiments, expressed confidence in the Minister’s economic targets and the administration’s accessibility and responsiveness.
Edochie said, “I mean, you heard the Vice President. These are not people that we cannot reach; we call on them, and then they come up; they come out and see us. I mean, what more do we expect?
“We have issues; we tabled before them. That is how to run a country, not the kind of leaders that you call on and you don’t see them. They just hide somewhere and lead you from wherever you don’t know.”