The Chief Executives of Culture of the Federation gathered at the Ebonyi State Staff Development Centre, Kpiri-Kpiri, Abakaliki, capital of Ebonyi State, from 6th – 9th May, 2014. This was the 40th in the series of meetings and the first for the year (2014).
Present at the meeting were Chief Executives Officers of the following Federal Parastatals – National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), National Troupe of Nigeria (NTN), the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC), and the convener, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC). The Executives of States Councils for Arts and Culture/History and Culture Bureaux were also present, namely: Niger, Rivers, Bauchi, Akwa-Ibom, Benue, Ekiti, Delta, Osun, Taraba, Katsina, Yobe, Enugu, Abia, Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Ogun, Anambra, Kaduna and Imo States.
The meeting was declared open by the Executive Governor of Ebonyi State, His Excellency, Chief Martin Elechi, MFR, CON, ably represented by the Honourable Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Chief Hyacinth E. Ikpor (KSJI). In his speech, the Executive Governor declared the State’s belief that, “Culture is the most effective ingredient for the achievement of peace and peaceful co-existence in any given society and it must be promoted.” He commended former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon’s administration for initiating NAFEST and noted the potential that culture has for job creation and economic empowerment.
In his own address, the Executive Director/CEO of National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) and Chairman of the meeting, Mr. M. M. Maidugu, called on his colleagues to deploy the resources of our cultural heritage in supporting the efforts of the Federal and States Governments towards mitigating some of the peace challenges we are having today.
Various memos and reports were presented by both Federal and States parastatals. Same were extensively discussed, at the end of which the meeting:
i. Considered and approved the theme of NAFEST 2014 as presented, viz: “Celebrating Nigeria @ 100: The Role of Culture as Vehicle for National Unity.” It approved the Syllabus and proposed that the hosting right of the next edition be awarded to Ebonyi State with Ogun, Ondo and Osun States on standby.
ii. Approved impending Culture Quiz Competition 2014, commended the salutary effect it is having on our school based youth and enjoined States to step up their participation.
iii. Noted positive reports from various States and commended the role of Governors of these states in giving the necessary enablement to their State Cultural sector. In this regard, the meeting commended the reintroduction of funding in Taraba as well as expanded funding in Enugu and Niger.
iv. Commended the Governor of the states that hosted various National Cultural Programmes over the last one year and enjoined other states governors to emulate them. The States commended were: Edo for the Culture Quiz competition; Bayelsa and Benue for CEC meetings; Bayelsa for NAFEST; Kaduna for the workshop on Langa; and the trio – Kaduna, Ekiti and Ebonyi States for hosting various editions of the newly introduced empowerment programmes.
v. Commended the introduction of the following National Cultural programmes/ initiative:
a. empowerment programme on Performing Arts, Administration.
b. workshops on traditional games and sports starting with Langa.
c. capture of data on number of participants at NAFEST and AFAC, which practice states and other Federal Parastatals were enjoined to emulate.
vi. Commended the States that have responded to the calls by NCAC for creation of Culture Clubs, collation of data and improved attendance at National Cultural events and implored others to follow suit.
vii. Noted and approved of the continuing use of Public Private Partnership (PPP) as a way of palliating the shortfalls in the funding of culture.
viii. Received with gladness the reported introduction in some states of a practice whereby State Cultural functionaries that excel at national and international cultural events are received by the Governor and given financial incentives, just as it is done with sports.
ix. Enjoined State Councils to note the various programmes of Federal Parastatals that have benefit for them and take advantage of same. Included here are the impending audition of artistes by the NTN, the various training programmes on offer by NICO, and the planned Roundtable Discussion of CBAAC.
x. Noted the giant stride achieved by AFAC, in terms of the scope, size and geographical spread of participation, namely, states, LGAs, NGOs, foreign countries and also the number of visitors.
xi. The meeting expressed a sense of loss in respect of the late Permanent Secretary, Directorate of Culture and Tourism, Delta State, Sir Andy Omokri and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Benue State, Mr. Wanongo Ugbema.
xii. The meeting noted the departure of some of its members either by way of elevation to higher posts or retirement. It prayed for God to guide and bless them in their new endeavours.
xiii. Noted that the methods employed by insurgents in the North-East geo-political zone of Nigeria are antithetic to our culture and prayed for God’s intervention.
The meeting noted with gratitude the efforts of Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFRat highlighting culture as an important aspect of the Transformation Agenda.
The CEC also expressed appreciation to the Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, High Chief Edem Duke and the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Nkechi Ejele, for their successful piloting of the affairs of the Nigerian Cultural sector.
The CEC expressed appreciation for the warm hospitality received from the Governor and people of Ebonyi State, not forgetting the General Manager, Ebonyi State Council for Arts and Culture, Hon. Moses Oshibe, for his efforts at this meeting, the neatness of the state, the prevailing peace and visible development strides. It expressed the hope that members shall be allowed to take advantage of these for execution of the 2014 edition of NAFEST.
Members of the Communiqué Drafting Committee:
1. Mr. Napoleon Okaurefe Akpobecha (Delta) - Chairman
2. Mrs. Funmi Ladele (CBAAC) - Member
3. Alhaji Modu Bukar (Yobe) - Member
4. Mr. Zaman J. Wasani (Bauchi) - Member
5. Mr. Oyetunde Oyesiji (Osun) - Member
6. Mr. Izueke Eddy Okolo (Enugu) - Member
7. Mr. Oludotun Osunsanya (NCAC) - Secretary