BARCLAYSExecutive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, who is also an Associate Professor in Nasarawa State University, Keffi and the Convener of the 28th Annual International Conference of the Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA 2015) has said Nigeria stands to benefit from the conference, stressing that it is an intellectual exercise where academics are coming together to brainstorm and analyse the way forward for the country.

Ayakoroma who was speaking recently on Bush House Nigeria, a Kapital FM 92.9 one hour radio programme, anchored by Michael Bush said it is an honour that NICO is hosting the gathering of theatre arts lecturers from tertiary institutions within and outside Nigeria, which provides a veritable platform for exchange of ideas on how to reposition Nollywood, the 2nd largest film industry in the world, in order to contribute significantly to the nation’s development in our quest to diversify the economy.

According to him, the conference which has as theme:“Repositioning Nollywood for the Promotion of Nigeria’s Cultural Diplomacy and National Security,” is expected to have His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, as Special Guest of Honour, His Excellency, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd), GCFR, former President, Federal Republic of Nigeria as chairman on occasion, while Professor Hyginus Ekwuazi of the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan, will be the Keynote Speaker.

Maintaining that this is the first time an institute outside the conventional academic setting is hosting SONTA, Ayakoroma said: “It has been universities upon universities after the maiden edition which was hosted by College of Education, Abraka, now Delta State University. We are hosting it this year and we take it as a very rare opportunity, considering the fact that a one-time President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, General Ibrahim Badamisi Babangida, rtd, GCFR is going to chair the occasion and we are also expecting the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari to be Special Guest of Honour.”

Reiterating that there was a lot happening in Nollywood that government can leverage on, the NICO boss said there are states in Nigeria that had something to do with the film industry and as such, their Governors should serve as Guests of Honour.

On the choice of former President Babangida to chair the occasion, Ayakoroma said: “It is on record that the Act setting up NICO was signed by Gen. Babangida ten days before he left office; and coincidentally, he signed it as a birthday gift in the sense that it was signed on the 17th August, 1993, which was his birthday. NICO is now 22 years old and we feel that since the Institute now has the privilege of hosting an international event, he should come and chair it because we are one of the last children he gave birth to and we have reached adulthood.”

It is expected that the conference will draw stakeholders in the Nigerian film industry (Nollywood), especially those who have the craving for knowledge as their participation will sharpen their skills and further enable them match theory with practice.

Already, over eighty (80) research papers for the conference have been uploaded on the conference website: for the public to peruse.

Caleb Nor

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO, Abuja