Abuja - The Federal Government has earmarked N150 million to organise the Abuja Carnival in 2013, Mr Edem Duke, the Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, stated.
He appeared before the Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism to defend the ministry's 2013 budget estimates.
Duke told the committee that N50 million was appropriated for this year's Abuja Carnival, but that only N42 million was released.
He explained that a better part of the money was spent on settling bills accumulated from the 2011 carnival.
The minister said that the 2012 Abuja Carnival was organised using goodwill and not necessarily cash.
Duke told the committee that the ministry had proposed N22 billion for the 2013 fiscal year, out of which N150 had been earmarked for the Abuja Carnival 2013.
The minister noted that if properly funded, the sector had the potential to employ a lot of Nigerians.
He said, "The Culture and Tourism sector has the potential to employ everybody.
"Therefore if for any reason we find that there is a larger number of workforce in a particular area, we are willing to sit and discuss with people about possibilities of using tourism to engage as many people as possible."
Duke said that the sector was one of the top three employers globally, adding that waiting for budgetary allocations alone would not move it forward.
He said, "The master plan of Nigeria requires resources not just budget, but also money from the private sector.
"So, we need to find collaboration with private sector, especially with the media to stress the importance of mainstreaming this sector into the economy.''
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Ahmed Barata (PDP-Adamawa) expressed regrets that the Federal Government was not interested in funding the tourism sector due to the availability of oil in the country.
He, however, said that while the oil money touched only the lives of the elite, funds from tourism impacted on the lives of the common man.
He called on the ministry to organise a retreat with relevant stakeholders to analyse the relevance of the sector to enable government understand its relevance and increase its funding.