NCAC urges economic revival through cultural resources amidst Naira decline

By Sodiq AdelakunIn a recent statement released yesterday, the Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Chief Olusegun Runsewe, has called upon Nigerians to actively engage in revitalising the nation’s economy and bolstering the naira by strategically leveraging cultural assets.Runsewe highlighted the significant depreciation of the Nigerian currency, tracing its decline from the era of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) to the present day, noting its adverse effects across various aspects of national life, including the erosion of cultural values.He emphasised the need for a thorough reorientation of values to address these challenges.“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 implications 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 naira commanded remarkable economic power in the global market, the 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 a 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 have lost domestic patronage except when exported to Dubai and imported into Nigeria with the brand ‘made in Italy.’”He noted that China had made an 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 was conspicuously alien and brazenly extravagant.

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