The Federal Government has been called upon to improve on the funding of cultural festival activities and similar events for national development.

Professor Henry Leopold Bell-Gam of the Theatre Arts Department, University of Port Harcourt, who made this call in a paper titled, “Culture, Peace and National Development: Any Hope for Nigeria?” which he presented on the occasion of the World Culture Day, said such improvement on funding will help sustain Nigerian culture.

He added that why it is germane is that more funding of the cultural programmes will check urbanization and the influence of Western culture that are gradually driving our enviable cultural practices, particularly our dress culture, into extinction.

The lecture was in line with the theme of this year’s event, “Culture and National Development,” which the South-South Zonal Office of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) celebrated in collaboration with Rivers State Council for Arts and Culture at the Agbani Darego Cultural Centre Complex, Port Harcourt.

Other programmes that added to the beauty of the cultural day were cultural displays, cultural parade and presentations. In fact, the cultural displays by both staff of South-South Zonal Office of NICO and Rivers State Council for Arts and Culture were applauded by stakeholders in the culture sector who were guests to the event.

Declaring the event open, the Executive Secretary of NICO, Dr. Barclays Ayakoroma, who was represented by South-South Zonal Office Coordinator of the Institute, Mr. Mike Ekoko, stated that this year’s theme was designed to encourage Nigerians to be patriotic in patronizing our domestic products, which will lead to national development.

According to the Executive Secretary, the theme of this year’s celebration was aimed at encouraging Nigerians to look inwards, have a better grasp and appreciation of their cultural heritage, develop a new consciousness and place high premium on their cultural values for national integration.

The event was chaired by Mr. Uriel Paul-Worika, the pioneer Director of the Rivers State Council for Arts & Culture, while the Honourable Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of Rivers State Ministry for Culture and Tourism, was the Special Guest of Honour.

Other dignitaries present at the event include Mr. Layo Fademijo, Curator, National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Port Harcourt, Mr. Deede Baede, Executive Director, Rivers State Council for Arts and Culture, Mr. M. P. Ukusowa, Director of Administration, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Rivers State,  Mr. Ewuzie, Director of Culture, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Rivers State, students of selected secondary schools in Rivers State, staff of Rivers State Council For Arts And Culture as well as staff of South-South Zonal Office of NICO, the press and members of the general public.

NICO, South-South zone