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Mainstreaming Culture for Economic Advancement

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The world youth day was celebrated in Nigeria with a two- day seminar organized by Nigerian National Commission for UNESCO on Cultural Creativity for Youth Skills Development. Among the papers presented at the seminar was Mainstreaming Culture for Economic Advancement: An Agenda for the Nigerian Youth by Professor A. M. Maisamari of University of Abuja, Nigeria. 

Advancing Culture for Economic Development
The world youth day was celebrated in Nigeria with a two- day seminar organized by Nigerian National Commission for UNESCO on Cultural Creativity for Youth Skills Development. Among the papers presented at the seminar was Mainstreaming Culture for Economic Advancement: An Agenda for the Nigerian Youth by Professor A. M. Maisamari of University of Abuja, Nigeria.
Advancing Culture for Economic Development
      Without any doubt, the Nigerian cultural policy document as an instrument of governance can influence and shape economic development in Nigeria if adequately implemented. A cursory look at the preamble/introduction of the Cultural Policy for Nigeria reveals very lofty and philosophical objectives whose intend is to place Nigeria among comity of nations if the ideas in the document are fully implemented. Giving the intentions of the cultural policy for instance, it is documented that; “When therefore we talk of self-reliance, self-sufficiency and a national identity as the core of our national development objectives, we are referring to culture as a fountain spring of all policies whether educational, social, political or economic. The strategies of national development would thus depend on the understanding of the culture, the adaptation of its elements for political, educational and economic development, as well as its strengths for social integration and development” (Aig-Imoukhuede, 1988:5) There is need for our cultural policy to be taken seriously especially, so that it can actually influence economic activities.
Think of the culture of African being our brother’s keeper. What implications does that have on the following?
our consumption pattern;
economic management;
electioneering campaigns;
business transactions involving government agencies and MDAs
maintenance of  peace and security among other issues of existence.
Amidst issues confronting developing nations also, stakeholders in the Nigerian culture sector should in the spirit of diversification and growing the economy, begin to think more of Cultural Exchange, Cultural Tourism, cultural relativity in education, commerce and trade as social and community relations. I believe that if all these are strategically and creatively articulated, it would not only bring about positive economic and social impact, but will promote cross-cultural connections and at the same time establish and reinforce our identity as a people.
 Information and communication technologies for example would definitely fight illiteracy and contribute meaningfully through its educational and learning applications. It would be a total re- imaging of the ‘Nigerian culture’ pitched against that which has come to be known as ‘Nigerian character’. ‘Nigerian character’ is a coinage that has found its way into Nigeria’s register, personifying the intrinsic flaw in many Nigerians who do not see anything wrong in stockpiling our commonwealth.
      Consequent upon this, the youths of any nation can take up the challenge of advancing culture for economic development as an agenda to change the retrogressive narrative and advance their contribution(s) towards national growth. In this guise, we strive towards preparing the subconscious minds of the Nigerian youths to start thinking along the lines of modernization, scientific and technological progression, electronic and biological revolution, because, in today’s world, these are  issues that are not only phenomenal, but drive the forces of socio-cultural transformation, mass literacy and indeed coping with the global community.
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Agenda for the Youth
      Reconstructing our historical past as a people would not only set an agenda for the youth, but will go a long way in developing the cultures of Africa and all Black people the world over. This is because the knowledge of world history that our youth have today is more loaded with Eurocentric architypes. Stakeholders should begin to engage the young ones more on the history of Nigeria with names like Ajayi Crowder; Nnamdi Azikiwe; Obafemi Awolowo; Abubakar Tafawa Balewa; Eyo Ita; Yakubu Gowon; Anthony Enahoro; Alvan Ikoku taking centre stage. Indeed, this will be seen as a process of retrieving and restoring our history for posterity and also perpetuating our culture.
      Another point that requires interrogation is that; rather than the unending struggle with the proliferated systems of governance introduced by the Whites; there is need to grow our own political culture in line with our traditional system and cosmology. In this regard, I believe the process by which leaders emerge in today’s democracy may need revisiting for credibility and acceptability. This will solve the problem of unscrupulous money bags emerging as leaders rather than people of integrity and sound minds.
In this regard, the youth should not only be engaged in indigenous citizenship education, but partake in local leadership training schemes with all the cultural trappings of the people embedded therein. In other words, leadership acumen should be focused on a philosophy of Negritude and on a culture that abhors greed, selfishness and evil doings. What we read these days in social media platforms about monumental, shameless and stupendous corruption in high and low places is indicative of the failure of our educational system which is more capitalist oriented and completely alien to the cultural norms and values which our traditional education emphatically stresses. The much talk about political and electioneering violence is indeed alien to the African culture where leaders emerge through consensus rather than through the election process that turns out to be a do or die affair.
      Curbing ethno-religious conflicts is another matter that the youth must be cultured into. We were told that “the arbitrary partition of Africa by European colonial powers at the Berlin Conference of November 1884, to February 1885 created states without securing the consent of peoples of diverse linguistic affinities and cultural affiliations which make them up” (Akinwale, cited in Udezo and Nwadialor, 2012: 241).
However, looking at this conflict from the British colonial policies alone could be misleading. Indeed, bad governance, debauchery and the self-seeking posture of our leaders are to be blamed for the prejudices and hatred amongst the distanced ethnic groups in Nigeria. Political commentators and pundits have severally posited that the incessant conflicts and ethnic cum religious conflicts are the handiwork of our selfish, corrupt and insincere political elites who lack integrity and credibility. They rely on ethnic and religious sentiments to work their ways to political power thereby promoting mediocrarcy poor productivity and bad governance.
Our youth should therefore be educated and cultured in the Africa traditional values of brotherliness, extended family system and good neighbourliness that have been time tested for maintenance of peace, security, and the common good of everybody in a society. They should be made to see culture as consisting of the values members of a given group hold, the norms they follow and the material goods they create for themselves. These norms of inter personal relationship, material acquisition and use should be the fulcrum of strategies for the maintenance of peace and security rather the use of force by security agents to quell ethno-religious crises. They can begin to think of other traditional social engagement strategies welfare oriented approaches which will no doubt boost our social cohesion, good governance trust and followership confidence that will have positive impact in our socio-economic growth and developments.
      From the forgoing discussion, it is clear that if Nigerian leaders come to the level of the common man by observing our traditional norms and values, it would stimulate consensus of different interests in society, thereby, creating sustainable human development. Therefore, the psyche of the youth should be disabused from building ethnic-walls around themselves when they get into political offices.
Communication gaps should be bridged for better understanding and development. The culture of Town hall meeting is an African way of information flow, transparency, and democracy, which are veritable strategies for good governance and development. Similarly, the practice of age grade system that encourages healthy competition and communal efforts should be invigorated
 In Nigeria, or even in most African countries, diversity is always seen as a disadvantage, while in the United States diversity is seen as an advantage and even celebrated. It is precisely for this reason that National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme was created for culture integration, harmony and unity among others. This should be sustained and more programmes of youth exchange should be developed and implemented for cultural awareness, integration and tolerance.
      Wealth accumulation is fast becoming a cultural norm in Nigeria. The inordinate clamour for wealth either by hook or crook is not a vice or thing of worry to an average Nigeria. Perhaps it is the reason why between 1979 and 1983, the Shehu Shagari led administration introduced Ethical Revolution and on a later date; Muhammadu Buhari came up with the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) to curb this wanton tendency. These days’ agencies like Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and others are also established in the country.  These agencies are no doubt doing great jobs in apprehending looters and recovering loots; however the need to curb the culture of looting must be pursued. Our traditional education of inculcating integrity, discipline and pursuance and protection of communal interest and assets must be made part of the mandates of these agencies.
Accordingly, it would be proper to start rebranding and reordering these pathways in view of the present-day feelings of dissatisfaction and dysfunctionality that is engulfing our nation. Stupendous stealing, love for exotic produce consumption and lifestyle without adding value to the quality of life and asset of the immediate community must be discouraged and stemmed out completely.
 Again, there is the need to emphasise the choice of ethical produce over less-ethical alternatives at no extra cost. This ethical reorientation, socio/cultural rearmament and moral rejuvenation must be community – based and indeed, targeted at would be leaders (the youth) who would positively affect their society. Our curriculum at all levels of education should not just teach History, Social Studies and or Civic Education for the sake of it but with a clear objective of inculcating positive values that would engender development, peace and prosperity.
      The culture of transparency and accountability can lead to economic growth. When citizens are given a sense of belonging, they also would strive in their own way towards accomplishing set goals for the common good of the society. Besides, with this sense of being an integral part, they would not only follow their rulers, they would have diminished suspicion and doubt on their leaders, hence, achieving a favourable environment for economic growth.
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      Tourism as a sector has a significant economic and cultural force in developing nations which can add up to the GDP of a nation. For many countries, it is the main strategy for regional and economic growth. It creates not only employment and foreign-exchange earnings, but also stimulates cross-cultural awareness. Again, as a large industry, monies generated can be used to develop infrastructures and services like roads, airports etcetera. Needless to say that India became popular through the Bollywood industry among others socio economic adventures .It did not only become popular, but also made a lot of foreign earnings for its economic growth and development. I am sure we are aware of the potentialities of the Nigerian firm industry-the Nollywood, in foreign exchange earnings and job creation and employment.
 Creativity in cultural packaging is the key to this. It is at this point that I salute the efforts of producers and directors of the firm industry. The following stand out: the Nollywood, Kannywood, the Yollywood and the Kwag-hir theatre.
 Yollywood -representing and projecting the Yoruba philosophy, culture and belief system. Channel 157 YORUBA is very popular on DSTV.
      Kannywood- strives to engender the film making industry using the Hausa cultural setting in the northern part of Nigeria. This is prominent on the DSTV channels 261 Arewa 24 and 156 HAUSA, where every musical, dramatization prop, food context among others, have cultural blend of the way and life of the Hausa people.
     Nollywood is believed to be an Igbo thing where the cultural tenets of the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria are reflected with a lot of creative attitudes from the film makers.
      The penchant for the balkanization of film production in Nigeria has rather turned out to be more of a blessing as every cultural group now tells its own story its  own way. They represent their culture and tradition from their perspective as real owners who know it all to the younger generation to imbibe. To the older generation, it is a means of reenactment of culture for entertainment, to the outsider, it is as a means of education and enlightenment.
Kwag-hir theatre is a deliberate and conscious product of creative arts which is derived from the Tiv culture. It gives expression in the performance of ideas. Professor Iyorwuese Hagher, former Ambassador to Canada and Mexico, has done so much to popularize this theatre. It is a dramatic art through which stories of current and past events are told. Its performance is a mixture of poetry, storytelling, puppetry, music, dance and drama.  It is considered a weapon of social critique which the youth can engage in with the view of learning how to create short politically and culturally coded sketches that will bring about critical consciousness that would unite and save a peoples culture. The view is held that; in 1969 and also in 1964, the Kwag-hir theatre helped to coalesce political protest in Tiv land. The youth can decide to tour the nation or even go abroad with such performances, thereby creating jobs opportunity for them.
 Several culture based film industries in Nigeria have been creatively developed for entertainment, edification, socialization and economic benefits. In all of these, Youth are trained as actors, scriptwriters, producers, and directors’ etcetera. These are creative ventures which have become money spinners for individuals as well as boosting our national economy.
      Cultural agencies and institutions like; National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC);  National Commission for Museums and Monuments; Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization; Nigerian Tourism Board; Nigerian Film Censorship Board; National Theatre Management Board (incorporating the National Troupe of Nigeria), National Orientation Agency, Ministry of Education  etcetera must all strive in their rights to improve the quality of life in the  Nigerian society by ensuring a robust socio-economic interaction with the creative integration of culture in youth development, orientation and re orientation.                                                                  
      This can be achieved through the provision of infrastructure, organizing exhibitions, providing incentives to creativity through grants and sponsorships.
Stakeholders in the culture industry should focus on the means of engaging the youth conscientiously and consciously in presenting the Nigerian culture within and outside the shore of the country. This would be like in a ‘catching them young’ style through mass media activities like, films, theatre, exhibitions, seminars and workshops. I believe in this regards, that, culture should act as transformational machinery since we cannot afford to maintain a static view of history. This is because our cultural practices must grow and develop in tandem with global realities.
Work Cited
 Abone, Clementina. “Information and Communication Technologies, catalyst for Sustainable Global Development”. In Paradise in the Arts: Celebrating Prof. C.C. Agbodike. (Eds) Joy Eyisi, Ike Odimegwu and Alex Asigbo. Awka: Afab Educational Books, 2008. Pp. 3321-329
Asigbo, Alex. “Reimaging Nigerian Culture in an Age of Terror and Globalisation”. In Culture, Identity and Leadership in Nigeria. (Eds) Emmanuel Samu Dandaura and AbdulRasheed Abiodun Adeoye. Ibadan: Kraft Books Limited, 2010. Pp.67-78
Cultural Policy for Nigeria. Lagos: Federal Government Printer, 1988
Okodo, Ikechukwu. “Culture and National Development”. In Paradise in the Arts: Celebrating Prof. C.C. Agbodike. (Eds) Joy Eyisi, Ike Odimegwu and Alex Asigbo. Awka: Afab Educational Books, 2008. Pp. 331-345
Udezo, B.O.S. and Nwadialor. “Good Governance and Effective Human Relations: Pathways to Fostering Ethno-Religious Harmony in Nigeria”. In The Humanities and Good Governance. (Eds) A.B.C. Chiegboka et tal. Anambra: Rex Charles and Patrick Ltd, 2012. Pp. 238-245
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