The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism on Wednesday said culture could be the mainstay of the country’s economy if well preserved and given the value it deserved. Mohammed made the statement in Lagos when he declared open an exhibition of stolen artifacts recently repatriated from Europe and America.
The exhibition of the no fewer than 150 artifacts was titled “Return of the Lost Treasure” Some of the artifacts on exhibition at the National Museum include NoK Terracotta head,Oba Esigie ivory pendant, Plague of One Ozolua Nibarami Eko and the Ogiurho Game Board .
The minister said the country’s diverse cultures had more value than any natural resource including petroleum. Mohammed, however, said there must be conscious efforts by all stakeholders to appreciate and harness the potential of culture to drive the economy.
“Culture is as important to the economy as petroleum. As a matter of fact, culture is even more important to the economy than petroleum.
“This is because petroleum is an exhaustive resource. Culture is not, because it is about us as a people,” he said. The minister said the country’s artifacts were part of the our culture as they told our history and represented our way of life.
While saying artifacts had immense economic value, Mohammed called for perception change of the works by Nigerians. He said a good number of Nigerians erroneously linked artifacts with fetish practices, saying the belief had affected appreciation of the works locally.
He described as ironical that foreigners valued Nigerian artifacts more than Nigerians themselves, hence why some of them were smuggled out of the country. Mohammed said the repatriation of some of the most valuable artifacts from the the West was cheery news in view of their historical, cultural, social and aesthetic values. “Also the importance of these artifacts as a source of education and an enabler of tourism cannot be over-emphasised. “Nigerian traditional art, the works of our forefathers bears testimony to skilled craftsmanship, and creative ingenuity