The Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, who is also an Associate Professor at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi and Convener of the 28th Annual International Conference of the Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA 2015), has said the Institute has changed the face of SONTA conference by opening a new vista in the annals of the Society.

Ayakoroma stated this, Tuesday, 4th August, 2015 at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja-FCT, in his welcome address, presented at the opening ceremony of the conference, which had as theme: “Repositioning Nollywood for the Promotion of Nigeria’s Cultural Diplomacy and National Security.”

According to him, this is the first time an Institute, outside a conventional university is hosting the conference just as it is the first time it is witnessing an array of special guests in attendance.

He maintained that NICO’s hosting of the conference is in line with it’s mandate to partner relevant agencies in sensitizing Nigerians, saying the theme of the conference is informed by the need to direct the attention of states that can significantly contribute to their internally generated revenue through the platform of the Nigerian film industry.

His words: “We believe that Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Enugu, Imo, Kano, Lagos and Oyo, are states that can ride on the platform of film production and marketing to create jobs and generate employment for our teeming youths.”

Speaking similarly, the National President of SONTA, Professor Sunday Enessi Ododo said this year’s conference was special and unique because it was the first time a government agency was hosting since its formation in 1982, saying it was an experimentation the Society hoped will endure and further open up the floodgates of more robust and engaging relationships with other relevant government agencies and institutions.

Calling for further partnership and synergy on collaborative ventures between the academia and government, Ododo said there could be no greater way to see government policies in action than what NICO had done, believing that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration would explore similar kinds of synergy to fast-track his three-pronged agenda on security, youth employment and transparency.

Ododo, who said Nollywood is a goldmine that when interrogated with national security, will open a fresh vista on how the current security challenges in Nigeria could be addressed, regretted that the industry is yet to be fully exploited for gainful impact in our socio-cultural system in Nigeria.

“Repositioning the Nigerian film industry to play a key role in character transformation, national consciousness and security sensitivity shall be in the overall interest of all Nigerians. The film is a very potent medium with very wide reach and with mass mobilization appeal,” he said.

He therefore was of the opinion that if the present government is to go far in her change mission and national reorientation, the answer lies in Nollywood.

Caleb Nor

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO, Abuja