By Solomon Ayado and Ahuraka Isah
Senate has summoned the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed to appear before it and proffer explanations on the dwindle of culture and tourism in the country.
Senate said it is not satisfied with the efforts being made by the federal government to reposition the culture and tourism sector so as to make it a major foreign exchange earner.
Consequently, the Senate Committee on Information and Cultureis directed to interface with the minister and assess the level of performance in the sectors.
The committee was given two weeks to complete its assignments and report back to the plenary.
To achieve progress, Senate want the federal government to adopt a comprehensive sustainable tourism policy with a view to using tourism as an important tool for economic diversification, conversation of natural resources and creation of employment.
Urging the government to consider making “culture and tourism” autonomous, Senate said the sectors should not be merged with the Federal Ministry of Information to ensure effective implementation sustainable policies to boost the nation’s economy.
Also, the upper chamber admonished the Nigerian Immigration Service and the Federal Ministry of Health to intensify surveillance and monitor tourist traffic to forestall cross border crimes and epidemics at the nation’s international borders.
The resolution of the Senate followed a motion by Senator Fatimat Raji-Rasaki (PDP Ekiti Central) on the need for sustainable tourism policy in Nigeria.
Rasaki noted that “Nigeria is yet to formulate and adopt policies that would develop the tourism sector in a sustainable manner and leverage on the sector as a wealth creator, major source of foreign exchange earner and most viable economic development strategy with positive impact on poverty alleviation”.
Senators Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP Abia North); Gbenga Ashafa (APC Lagos East); Barau Jibrin (APC Kano North) and Ben Murray-Bruce (PDP, Bayelsa)described culture and tourism as a major tool for economic diversification which must be given prior attention by government.