The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Ibrahim Mahe, has commended the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) for holding a successful one-day National Quarterly Media Workshop on Friday, July 15, 2011, at the V.I.P. Hall of National Theatre Complex, Iganmu, Lagos State.

The media workshop, the 5th edition of such vibrant conference for art writers/editors and other culture stakeholders since last year, has as its theme “Sustaining Nigeria’s Democratic Process: The Imperative for the Culture Sector”.

Mr. George Ufot, Deputy Director of Culture, Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation who represented the Permanent Secretary on the occasion said that the media workshop organized by NICO provides a platform for Government to interface with the Press on culture matters and an opportunity to know areas the Government is not doing well. He maintained that Government is doing its best to create the enabling environment that would make the culture industry to thrive. He however advised that all hands should be on deck as Government cannot do it all alone.

In his Welcome Address, the Executive Secretary, Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, said the media workshop is designed to create cultural awareness and offers a platform for State Governments in Nigeria to showcase the unique cultural, historical, and physical attractions found in their communities, thereby giving arts writers and arts editors something positive to report about the rich and diverse cultures that abound in the 36 States and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Nigeria.

Subsequent workshops, Dr. Ayakoroma continued, will be a three day event that revolves round the States of Nigeria on a monthly basis beginning from FCT, Abuja by next month, and enjoined participants for the technical session of this July workshop to draw from expositions of the three resource persons assembled from different faculties to speak on the lucid and mind blowing topics related to the above theme.

Major-General Mathias Efeovbokhan (rtd), in his paper, titled “Building Nigeria’s Image” and presented by Barr. Reginald Bob-Manuel, said that the construct of a good image for Nigeria requires the effort of stakeholders like MDAs, civil societies, the elite, mass media and security agencies to re-orientate the publics on values, enforce zero tolerance for corruption, and respect for the rule of law.

He urged arts journalists and trained cultural officers, being equipped with information dissemination techniques, to serve as the link to reach the target audiences in order to generate the “critical mass” needed to create a sustained and desirable image for Nigeria.

Mr. Garba Abdul Ganger, Deputy Director and Head, Consultancy Services Division, Industrial Training Fund (ITF),  in his paper, titled, “Communication Development: Nigerian Cultural Perspective”, affirmed that mass communicators must convey important cultural messages in clear simple language that recognizes people not just Government and celebrities as the subject and object of development.

He called on journalists to de-emphasize negative values like corruption and emphasize the advantages of Nigeria’s cultural dynamics of rich cultural diversity tending towards an integrative and all inclusive nation-state.

In her presentation, one of Nigeria’s renowned philosophy scholars and a guest lecturer in NICO Training School, Professor Sophie Oluwole, in her presentation, titled “Promoting the Book Culture in Nigeria,” delivered as “14 Questions to Participants,” a thought provoking interactive lecture, encouraged workshop participants to question unsuitable cultural ideas, imported junk and inappropriate ideas of cultural development that are usually contained in some irrelevant foreign authored books.

Education, she said, is the inculcation of culture and journalists must read to know about our culture in order to carry out proper investigative journalism, and proffered self-management as the beginning of the solution to Nigeria’s developmental problems.

Earlier on, the Special Guest of Honour, Oba Gbenga Sonuga, the Fadesewa of Simawa-Sagamu, called on NICO to employ its clout as the apex and leading Cultural Institute in Nigeria to provide orientation programmes to newly appointed Ministers. This call was also supported by Mr. Bolaji Rosiji, former President of Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), at the occasion.

Dignitaries that graced the occasion include, Mr. Ben Tomoloju, pioneer arts editor, The Guardian, Daddy Fresh, popular musician and entertainment artiste, Barrister Abayomi Oyelola, mni, Director, Administration & Human Resources and Dr. Dipo Kalejaiye, Deputy Director/Head, Academic Unit of Training School, Lagos.

It was indeed a very rewarding and intellectually refreshing workshop well-attended by stakeholders and interspersed with scintillating traditional dances from the National Dance Troupe. Mr. Ozolua Uhakheme, Arts Editor, The Nations Newspaper, in his vote of thanks on behalf of Art Writers and Editors, remarked that the NICO Media Workshop has given journalists in the Arts Desk an opportunity to be empowered intellectually.

Anthony Okafor and Uche Odionye
Public Relations Unit                                             
NICO Training School