The Honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke has underscored the compelling power of Nigerian culture (soft and creative energy) as the definitive element in the growth of investment in the country’s economy.
Duke made this statement while delivering his address during the opening ceremony of the 7th edition of the African Arts and Crafts Expo (AFAC 2014) holding at the Eagle Square in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, from the18th – 27th of July.
The Minister reiterated that, “The power of Nigerian culture is so compelling that from wherever direct investment is coming to Nigeria today, Nigerian culture had already arrived at such destinations, defined Nigeria, created a warm appeal and sentiment before business arrived at those destinations. Therefore, it is important for us to note that whether it is from China, whether it is from United States, South Africa, Japan, Britain or Brazil, before the investment decisions get to Nigeria, Nigerian culture had already travelled to those destinations to position Nigeria, to speak the language which is the first letter of recommendation.”
Speaking about the importance of the AFAC platform to the participants, investors and Nigeria, as a nation, Duke highlighted that it was geared towards attracting investment into the development of culture as an enterprise for the country, and that participants in the sector who have used their very mean resources to develop some of the most fascinating works on exhibition have been given a rare opportunity to showcase their talents and art, adding that it was time for corporate organisations, banking and financial institutions to invest and develop packages that would promote and sustain culture as enterprise.
The Culture Minister further intimated that he will lead the Nigerian cultural community to participate in the African Summit opening on the 4th of August, at the world renowned John F. Kennedy International Center for the Performing Arts, Washington DC, USA, where a new narrative about the compelling power of culture in Nigeria would be showcased through a repertoire of songs and dances, literary works and creative endeavour, just as there would be discussions on the importance of Nigerian cultural dynamism in extending the frontiers of the country’s cultural relationships and diplomatic influence.
He further commended the leadership of National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), the organisers of AFAC, for their professionalism and the innovation in the 7th edition: “I will therefore like to cease this opportunity to commend the leadership of National Council for Arts and Culture for the innovation that it has brought year in year out to the African Arts and Crafts Expo. I will also like to align with the sentiment expressed by the Chairman of the House Committee Culture and Tourism (Hon. Ben Nwankwo) that the leadership which Mr. Maidugu has given to this establishment, I think it is eloquent to his professionalism; and today, this industry, this sector is growing by lips and bounds.”
In concluding, Duke decried the poor state of the Art & Craft Village, acknowledging that there was a lot of work to be done in the area of establishing a truly International Arts and Crafts Centre in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory that would compete with the rest of the world in the creative market, noting that the development of an iconic art piece that will be the brand face of Nigerian art and craft that will be recognised as definitive of Nigeria anywhere in the world was imperative.
Pledging his support and readiness to work with investing public and creative minds in the sector, the Minister stated, “I would like to reiterate the fact that I am willing to work with all members of the creative industry, the entire cultural community, the private sector investors and indeed the Parliament for us to grow investment potentials in this sector.”