With the need for Nigeria to fully diversify its economy away from oil still in the front burner of national discourse, Agriculture is being projected as the next best option.
But the Director-General of the Development Agenda of Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, Mr. Seye Oyeleye, thinks there is an industry that can do better than Agriculture for the economy of the Southwest.
Oyeleye who was guest speaker at the AMFEST regional creativity industry business summit held over the weekend at the IACD Resource Centre, Jericho, Ibadan, opined that the “creative economy” is a surer bet for an economy outside oil.
His words: “Because of the dip in oil market, the country is now saying lets go back to Agriculture. But we can’t all be farmers. It is good we go back toAgriculture but we have this sector that has not been tapped and government policies need to be geared to this sector. We should go to the creative economy that has been neglected for years. It is a multibillion dollar industry that we believe that government needs to put down policies and create enabllng environment for these people to thrive.”
According to Oyeleye, what the creative industry needs at the moment, is a coordinated approach by the government. He sated that if government puts down the right policies and treat it like a real economic sector, it will be amazed at how huge the sector actually is.
“Hollywood in the US brings in billions to America because they have a coordinated approach to that industry,” he said. “Here in Nigeria, the government has neglected that industry. It can create jobs, millions down the line of its value chain”.
In spite of the fact that governments at all levels have continued to stress the need to go back to Agriculture, the DAWN DG observed that there are constraints to Agriculture in the region.
“Where is the land? We live here in western Nigeria. One of the biggest problems of farming here in western nigeria is the availability of land. The vast array of land you see while traveling, there are villages a stone throw behind them. The north has an edge in agriculture because of the vast land in that region. They have the comparative advantage. The north is probably 30 years ahead of the South in terms of agriculture. So, here in the South, what is our advantage?”
Answering his own question, the strategic management expert stressed that the Information Technology and creative industry is what western Nigeria holds as an advantage. “Government should make it part of our economy”, he stressed.
He recalled that Ibadan used to be the melting point of arts and culture in Nigeria. “Cultural Centre is a major wasting asset in this city. It is a gold mine for the industry. It can be a hub…artists and the likes, music producers. But unfortunately some government officials don’t see the viability in this industry.”
He however pointed out there has been some move which need to be improved upon. He identified the drum festival in Ogun; the One Lagos festival in Lagos where six theaters are being built across the state and the Osun-Osogbo festival, which he regretted was however not organised. He also mentioned the Amala festival and Aso Ofi festival in Oyo state.
In an interview on the sidelines, the chief convener of the event, Olukayode Amedu Adebayo, explained that the Africa music festival (AMFEST) and culture expo caters to six industries – music, film, fashion, food, creative arts and technology.
Stressing that the Nigerian culture is in high demand internationally, Adebayo, who is the President of KAM Africa, an arts and culture media firm, explained that “the platform is aimed at identifying practitioners in all these industries, standardizing the business and services they provide and connecting them to an international market of nothing less than four to five billion people. This will open us to the market just through demand and supply, and then bring back the forex.”
He explained that the expo is a four months programme, holding last Saturdays of every month till December. He said Music is the focus for September while October will be for film, November for culinary and fashion & creative arts while a fundraising for young artists will hold in December. He explained that digital training is an integral part of the event aimed at helping artists create wealth online.