The Senate on Monday, October 28, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to make the culture and tourism sector a priority in his economy diversification and employment generation programmes.
Sen. Rochas Okorocha; the Chairman, Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism made the call to Buhari at the 2020 Budget Defence of the Culture Sector of the Ministry of Information and Culture.
It was reported that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed presented the budget proposal before the committee.
Okorocha, who frowned at the meagre allocation allocated to the ministry in the budget proposal; said the tourism sector if well funded and harnessed has the potential to change the fortune of the country.
“If Nigeria must make the headway and meet its challenges, the government must prioritise tourism,
“The tourism sector is key to the diversification of our economy from the present monolithic dependent on oil, which can no longer meet our needs.
“Most countries in the world today, including China, Korea, UAE. Singapore, Malaysia depended on tourism.
“Nigeria has more natural tourism potentials than these countries which are waiting to be explored.”
The Senator added: “It is, however; unfortunate that no significant action is being taken to prioritise the sector and harness its low hanging fruits potentials.
“The annual budget for the sector is a pointer to the unseriousness of the government towards developing the tourism sector.
“It is ridiculous that we are all gathered here to debate on an annual budget of just N731.4 million for such an important sector.”
Okorocha appealed to the Federal Executive Council under the leadership of President Buhari to prioritise the sector; assuring that the Senate will take the necessary steps to support the action with appropriate legislation.
He also charged the minister and the heads of the parastatal agencies in the ministry to push forward the right vision and ideas for the sector.
Specifically; he said the music and entertainment industry where Nigeria has comparative advantage must be supported and harnessed for the benefit of the country.
The 2020 budget proposal for the culture sector of the ministry is N731.4 million for capital; 9.1 million for overhead and N2.9 billion for personnel cost.