It is a great honour and privilege for me to welcome you all to the formal opening ceremony of the 28th Annual International Conference of the Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA) being hosted by one of our parastatals, the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO).

The Federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation fully identifies with NICO and the Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA) because we know that resolutions and recommendations of this august conference will be beneficial to the sector in particular and the nation in general.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, the focus of this conference is Nollywood and the several ways the potentials of the industry can be effectively harnessed for sustainable national development similar to what countries like USA, China, India and several European nations have successfully done.

Although there is no denying the fact that Nollywood is already a success story in view of its socio-economic impact, it is noteworthy that we have only just scratched the surface compared to the enormous capacity that has not been tapped.

As a ministry, we have consistently stated that the culture and tourism sector of the Nigerian economy has the capacity to serve as one of the leading sources of government revenue if the enabling environment is created through investment and robust policies.

It is imperative to note that the leading economies of the world are leveraging on the lucrativeness of the sector. It is on record that the creative industry contributes about seventy-six billion pounds        (£76 billion) to the economy of the United Kingdom. The figures are much higher for the US where it is a major driver of economic growth. It is estimated that the creative industries contribute about six hundred and ninety-eight billion dollars ($698 billion) to the US economy.

In this regard, I will proudly say that Nigeria has a rich cultural heritage and an array of young people with great energies and creative abilities to launch Nigeria into the league of world leading economies.

At this juncture, I wish to state that our Ministry will continue to support the development of Nollywood and other aspects of the creative industry in furtherance of our objectives of making Nigeria a key player in the globalized economy.

I therefore wish all participants fruitful and incisive deliberations.

It is now my singular honour and privilege to invite His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to deliver his address and declare the conference open.

Mr. President Sir.