BenooThe Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Culture and Tourism, Hon. Ben Nwankwo has said as the leader of Black countries in the world, Nigeria was supposed to have a unique cultural identity, worthy of emulation and that it is imperative for the country to mainstream its culture and tourism sector in the national economic activities and business to achieve this.

This was contained in a goodwill message he delivered at the opening ceremony of the 7th edition of the African Arts and Crafts Expo (AFAC 2014), with the theme, “African Arts and Crafts: Tool for Economic Empowerment,” on Tuesday, July 22, at the Eagle Square, Abuja-FCT.

According to him, it was the responsibility of everybody in the culture and tourism sector to play their role in interpreting and promoting the sector to those in the corridors of power to enable them understand the inherent potentials in the sector that are yet to be tapped.

“The task before all of us in the sector is to get the operators and planners of the economy to understand the input and potentials of culture and tourism sector in national productivity and to understand the need to mainstream the sector in our overall economic planning,” he said.

Expressing regrets that the nation was yet to realize that there were huge potentials locked somewhere and someone was holding the key, Nwankwo maintained that, “AFAC is one of the veritable platforms through which the potentials inherent in the sector could be unlocked so that wealth can be generated, jobs could be created and of course, I see in all ramifications that culture is an instrument of international diplomacy which is what we call cultural diplomacy and by telling people about who you are, you are telling people to get to know you more.”

While describing this year’s AFAC as different in multiple dimensions, especially in terms of packaging, content development and variety of items, with the participation of very many countries, Nwankwo also pledged the support of the House Committee on Culture and Tourism to continue to do its best by deploying legislative instrumentation and budgetary allocation that will step up the sector to the next level.

He particularly commended the Honourable Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, for his vigorous efforts in trying to interpret the culture sector to the rest of his colleagues and to the entire Nigerians and also commended the organizers of AFAC, led by the Executive Director, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Mr. M.M. Maidugu, for putting together such a unique event this year, expressing hope that the 8th edition next year will be more promoted, such that states or local governments that have rich cultural heritages would have no excuse not to attend.

So far, 16 countries, Cameroon, Chad, China, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Iran, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Philippines, Senegal, South Korea, Sudan, Taiwan, and Trinidad & Tobago, and 10 States of the Federation, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Lagos and Taraba States, are already on ground participating in the event.

Caleb Nor

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO, Abuja