The Director of Administration and Human Resources Department of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Barr. Abayomi Oyelola, mni, has called on Nigerians from all walks of life to attach value and interest in the country’s diverse cultural festivals.
Barr. Oyelola made this call recently, while presenting a paper, titled, “Challenges to Transforming Cultural Festivals for Economic Development,” at a two-day National Workshop on “Repositioning Cultural Workers for Improved Productivity,” the 5th edition in the series, organized by NICO.
Presenting the paper, Oyelola, who was represented by Mr. Alex Omijie, Deputy Director Protocol in the Institute, said, though Nigeria is replete with vast cultural festivals, which is as much as the ethnic constituents in the country, the value that people attached to these festivals, is what would determine their economic worth.
Quoting Brett Goschen, CEO, MTN, the Director said, “festivals in Nigeria are like its multi-ethnic make-up, vast and diverse, rich and unique, captured in the richness and quality of preservation and presentation,” yet, that in itself is not enough because Nigeria and Nigerians have not thought out the commercial value attached to these festivals, nor organized them in such a manner as to generate revenue for the various communities in which they originate from or are held.
Speaking further, the Director stated that, cultural festivals in the country are merely celebrated for the remembrance of some old deities, cultural identification, or marking the significance of some ancestral events and sometimes even seen as a mark of exhibiting some ancestral beliefs and tradition; and that modernization, globalization and the attendant need to diversify the economy of the country, has made the transformation of these festivals from primordial status to modern commercial status imperative.
To achieve this, he said, it was pertinent to capture the diverse cultural festivals in Nigeria and transform them into revenue yielding or income generating events towards the economic development of the country; and that key to this, are transforming the festivals into national and international acceptability, packaging them as image-makers for the country, both here in the country and abroad, managing them well to meet international standards, marketing them as tourist attractions, setting modern infrastructure that would accommodate these diverse cultural festivals, and sustaining peace and security in the society to attract large scale participation.
He said, if these measures are put in place and Nigerians attach the needed interest and value to our indigenous cultural festivals, they would be transformed into avenues for strengthening community bonds across the country, improving the wellbeing of the people through the creation of employment and wealth, as well as serve as alternative revenue contributor to Nigeria’s economic development.
The workshop, which was with the theme, “Cultural Festivals as Tools for Socio-economic Transformation,” held from Thursday 1st to Friday 2nd November, 2012, at NICO Training School Complex, National Theatre Annex, near APCON, Iganmu-Lagos.
Jonathan N. Nicodemus