MINISTER of Infornation and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said dressing masquerades could create a thousand jobs per week for Nigerian men.
Speaking at the sectoral debate of the Federal House of Representatives in Abuja on Tuesday, Mohammed said most states in Nigeria have one festival or the other.
“Most states today have more than one festival a year, but the packaging and lack of capacity has not enabled them to make the most out of these festivals,” he said.
“There’s a particular masquerade in the south east, it takes 100 people to dress him, another 100 people to undress him.
“If this masquerade is well-packaged, it can provide employment in one week for more than 1000 young men. These are some of the untapped potentials.”
Mohammed explained that Nigeria has the oldest forest in the world in terms of biodiversity for tourists to visit, but tourists are discouraged by bribing and insecurity in the country.
“I worked in the airport for 10 years, and I know that if you want your passport stamped as a foreigner, you slip $100 into your passport. No tourist would come back to a country where he has to bribe immigration to enter.
“No tourist would come to a country where, when he leaves immigration, he enters a ‘one-chance’ taxi or ‘one-chance’ bus. It’s a holistic problem and these are all contained in the national tourism master plan, which I would make available to the house.
“We must make a difference between tourist sites and tourist attractions; what we have in Nigeria are tourist sites. They are not tourist attractions.
“You need infrastructure to convert a tourist site to a tourist attraction. If you don’t have infrastructure, it would always remain a tourist site,
“In Cross Rivers reserve park, Nigeria has the oldest forest in the whole world. It is the oldest in terms of biodiversity, and we have this very rare, white-mane gorilla in that area, but because my people in Cross River have decided to turn them to bush meat, they have now escaped.”