The appointment of Hannatu Musawa as Nigeria’s inaugural Minister of Art, Culture, and Creative Economy has sparked a fervent discussion on the state of the nation’s creative industry.
During a compelling segment on the Nigerian Creative Economy on a prominent morning show aired on Arise TV, a Nigerian TV news channel Obi Asika, the Convener of The Omniverse, and Charles Novia, a renowned Nigerian filmmaker, CEO of Teen Africa TV highlighted the sector’s challenges, assessing its current status and exploring avenues for growth and revitalisation.
Novia, in a term he coined “Attitudinal Tokenism,” explained that the government has consistently undervalued the role of entertainers in Nigeria. Despite this lack of support, the industry has thrived independently. He further stated that the Nigerian Ministry of Tourism should show support for artists during international tours, especially when they attract large crowds. The lack of structural support within touring systems, he said, is the primary reason why artists prefer performing abroad.
On a more optimistic note, Asika expressed gratitude towards the government for establishing a ministry dedicated to the creative industry of 24 sectors. He also suggested a need to invest in ‘dead assets’ like old stadiums, revitalising them as venues for major music events.
Asika emphasised the importance of domestic investment in the sector. “When you’re touring internationally, you’re generating money internationally. The money has been exported from Nigeria because we haven’t built enough domestic platforms,” he said. Asika believes that stimulating domestic investments to build more venues and production lots can help retain more revenue within the country. He also estimated that the creative economy could generate up to 10 billion jobs by 2030.
Collaboration, Asika insists, is the way forward. He urged the new minister to collaborate with sector leaders and other ministers, particularly the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy. He sees the creative sector as a significant driving force that could propel Nigeria’s economy forward.
“The strongest part of Nigeria is the Nigerian people. And once we understand that, then we understand the importance of this sector, because this sector is all about the IP of the Nigerian people,” Asika said.
Asika also highlighted the potential for Nigeria to leverage its art and culture through entertainment. He emphasised the importance of using technology, specifically AI, Web 3.0, and NFTs, to preserve and reimagine Nigerian mythology and narratives.
“What you’re seeing with Afro beats is taking our culture worldwide, is it not just the music, it’s the fashion, the attitude, the personality, and it’s the food. Nigerians actually have the thing that the Saudis are spending trillions of dollars to acquire which is that natural talent that people want to connect to,” Asika said.
Asika’s vision for the creative industry’s future suggests a promising outlook. With the right investments and support, the sector may indeed serve as ‘rocket fuel’ for Nigeria’s economy.