The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alh Lai Mohammed was at the just concluded GTBank Fashion Weekend, he spoke to journalists about his fatherly role to support his daughter; government’s intervention for the creative industry and his appreciation to the bank for giving creative Nigerians a platform to thrive-
Question: This is the first time at the GTBank Fashion Weekend, what has been your impression so far of what you have seen?
LM: I am here primarily because one of my daughters is in this industry, she has a label and a stand here. My interest is in her booth in my personal capacity and also in my office capacity as a Minister of Information and Culture. However, I have been studying the creative industry for a very long time- fashion, photography, film, music, theatre- as an area of the economy that we must pay more attention to because of its capacity to employ more people but it provides an opportunity for the younger ones to unleash their creativity and they will add more value.
After agriculture, the most viable industry is the creative industry, I am really excited about what GTBank is doing. In the last two hours, I have attended a Master class by Kim Kimble and it shows how much is involved in this industry. When you see a lady with well grown hair, you don’t know the science and procedure involved. You can see that it’s a new world and you make a whole new career.
One of the biggest way to make money is to look at the vanity industry- fashion, perfume, hair and the likes, we are human beings and we want to look good. I have gone round, I saw someone who makes canvas from ankara; I saw the adire women amongst others. You can see the vitality and creativity. I must congratulate GTBank for providing this platform for all the young ones to showcase their talents.
Question: In your opinion, what do this do for Nigerian entrepreneurs and the creation of global opportunities?
LM: The fact that we have here not just local exhibitors but international exhibitors; the facilitators for the Masterclasses are from the US and UK, that shows that we are evolving as a global brand. I have also seen many young people whose products can compete effectively with any other brand, all they need is this type of capacity building, and they need the exposure. In terms of content and talent, they are doing well. This type of fair is good to expose them and give them more confidence.
Question: Can you tell us a bit about your daughter’s business?
LM: She’s into fashion, she has a brand, My Q and she has been there for more than a decade. She is quite happy with what she does. At the beginning, I was a bit shocked because when I sent her to England to study Industrial Chemistry, she returned with a degree, did a Masters and she said all she wants to do is to go into fashion. Jokingly, I asked her, after sending you to London, all you want to do is to be a tailor? She responded that it will make her happy, I am glad I supported her. When you look at the people behind this industry, they are not illiterates. They are professionals who just chose this industry.
Question: You are very busy and you created time to support her, why do you have to do that?
LM: If you don’t have time for your kids, what are you going to have time for? This time yesterday, I was in Isanlu-Isin, Kwara State but then, it means a lot to my daughter that her Dad is here to support her and it means a lot to me too. It is what every parents should do no matter how busy you are, you must create time or else, you will lose them.
Question: You are also in charge of tourism as well, what is the government doing to assist the creative industry?
LM: What I have always told people about the creative industry is that Government can only provide an enabling environment. I am glad about what GTBank is doing because the brand is proving a point that the private sector can help to grow the creative industry. The Government will provide an enabling environment like power, security, road infrastructure and things like that. The Government recognizes the role of the industry and they have done a few things in the last two year, they conferred a pioneer status, which means if you invest a certain amount in the industry, you will be entitled to tax holiday. Then recently, the Central Bank of Nigeria came up with a Creative Industry Financing Initiative which allows one to take a single-digit loan between 3 and 500 million naira. These are some of what we are doing to create an enabling environment. GTBank and other brands are helping government to support the populace.