The National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) has advised Nigerians to make conscious efforts to revamp the economy and strengthen the naira by deliberately harnessing of nation’s cultural resources.
Chief Olusegun Runsewe, Director-General of NCAC, made the call in a statement on Sunday.
Runsewe said the phenomenal fall in the value of Nigerian currency, beginning from the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) regime, till today, had continued to negatively impact on all spheres of national life.
He said this had also challenged the nation’s cultural values and calls for a comprehensive value re-orientation.
“There has been no time in the socio-economic evolution of Nigeria that the naira, the nation’s national currency, has been under such a severe pressure than as it is today.
“With the exchange rate of one US dollar to less than one naira in the 70s, the exchange rate of the naira to the dollar today has risen beyond N1,000 to one US dollar.
“As a free market economy, the value of our nation’s currency would ultimately be determined by the market forces of demand and supply.
“This has implication on our level of consumption of foreign goods and services and by extension, our values,” he said.
Runsewe noted that in those days when the Nigerian currency commanded remarkable economic power at the global market, nation’s values were right.
He said “Our attitudes were positive and our personal dispositions were supportive of our developmental aspirations.
“We were a nation committed to Agriculture as the mainstay of our economy while aggressively embarking on solid mineral exploration to drive a diversified economy.
“We were a people imbued with positive sense of purpose and productive hard work was our national work ethics and our unique selling point.
“We were proudly Nigerians in our attitude to work, in our consumption, our dress culture and in all that we did.
We witnessed relative economic stability, social harmony and development because we believed in and espoused the tenets of our culture”.
He explained that today, the story was different as Nigerians have thrown their cherished cultural values overboard.
He said in place of hard work, Nigerians have embraced laziness, idleness and the get-rich-quick syndrome.
“We are no longer proud of our rich cultural values and their diverse manifestations.
“We have relegated the Nigerian fabrics which projected our cultural identity in the yesteryears and sustained a booming garment industry, for foreign dresses like the French suits, Holladian fabrics and Senegalese attires.
“It is now fashionable for our educational institutions even at the elementary level to import school uniforms to educate our children away from our culture, both in content and in form.
“Our educational curriculum has become largely alien and non-reflective of our socio-cultural background.
“It is unfortunate that today, we export Nigerian hide and skin to Italy and Spain only to import Italian and Spanish shoes made with Nigerian raw materials.
“Aba made shoes has lost domestic patronage except when exported to Dubai and imported into Nigeria with the brand “made in Italy”.
He noted that China had made alarming in-road into the Nigerian traditional fabric industry and imported Chinese tie and dye originally rooted in Osogbo culture, now in vogue in Nigeria.
According to him, there can be no sustainable economic development when the values and orientation of the citizens were at variance with the culture on which the society was founded.
He said there would be no development where the general pattern of consumption were conspicuously alien and brazenly extravagant.
“For us to attain economic growth and the stability of the naira, we must return to our cherished cultural values and harness our cultural resources to engender national development.
“India, like Nigeria, was a British colony. Unlike Nigeria, India has used the scientific and technological expertise of western education to develop its nation, holding jealously on to the Indian cultural heritage.
“They dress Indian, eat Indian, talk Indian and live Indian. Nigerians need to emulate such.
“I, therefore, wish to call on all stakeholders and key players in the arts and culture sector to begin to apply their energies towards optimising the huge potentials in our vast arts and culture sector.
“It is my hope that if our cultural resources are carefully harnessed and productively channeled, it will open up our cultural economy, engender rapid socio-economic growth.
“It will also lead to the emergence of a strong and stable currency that will command the required purchasing power at the international market,” he said.