NKECH EJELEThe Federal Government has expressed determination to support the Arts and Crafts industry in Nigeria towards developing the capacity for the industry to undertake the supply of large volume and high standard products, which can effectively dominate the domestic market while excelling in the global market.

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Mrs. Nkechi Ejele made this known on Thursday, 3rd September, 2015 while declaring open the 2015 special edition of the African Arts and Crafts Expo (AFAC), at the Arts and Crafts Village, Abuja-FCT, as part of programmes marking the 40th Anniversary of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC).

With the theme, “Stimulating the Economic Growth Potentials of the Cultural Industries,” Ejele said the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to diversifying the productive capacity of the nation’s economy.

Her words: “The Nigerian Government under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari will be particularly delighted to see this Fair fully exploit the innate capacity of our people, particularly those living in local government councils, women and youths who are the major drivers of most of the cottage industries.”

According to her, if properly harnessed, the Expo can bring to the fore the economic opportunities that abound in the creative sector, which will, in turn, contribute significantly towards arresting youth restiveness, rural-urban drift, reduce poverty, unemployment and many other social vices, as the event provides a platform for craftsmen and women to interact, showcase and market their products as well as share ideas that would forge international cooperation and understanding.

DAYO KESHISpeaking earlier, the Director-General, NCAC, Mrs. Dayo Keshi said there was need for us as a nation to preserve, protect and promote our culture against the onslaught of globalization stressing that our culture represents who we are and the values we share.

“It is our identity and what makes us unique as a nation. In preserving and promoting our culture, we celebrate the bonds that bind us together and the strength if our diversity,” she stated.

While maintaining that a nation’s only real wealth is its cultural heritage, which must be preserved and fully exploited to preserve the nation’s identity and natural comparative advantage, Keshi further said it was in recognition of the fact that our culture and crafts industry is an innovative platform to showcase artistry, craftsmanship and entrepreneurial skills that the Council organized the Expo as a way of contributing to the efforts of the present administration in its quest to look inwards towards developing the non-oil sector of the economy.

According to her, the theme of this year’s event seeks to explore, develop, market and generally leverage our rich and diverse crafts industry to contribute effectively to Government’s efforts at job creation, youth empowerment and rural economic transformation.

States participating in the exhibition component of this year’s AFAC include, Akwa Ibom, Gombe, Niger, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, and Taraba; eleven countries participating include, Benin Republic, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chad, Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Mexico, Niger Republic, Senegal and Taiwan; while two institutions of higher learning, the Federal Polytechnic, Owerri and Federal Polytechnic, Nekede have also taken exhibition stands at the event.

Sister parastatals under the culture ministry participating include the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), National Gallery of Art (NGA), National Orientation Agency (NOA), and Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC).

Dignitaries present at the opening ceremony were the High Commissioner from Jamaica to Nigeria, H.E. Ann Scott and First Secretary (Political), South African High Commission in Abuja, Sifiso Mangali; husband of the DG, NCAC, Ambassador Joe Keshi; Executive Secretary (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma; Director-General, National Gallery of Arts (NGA), Mr. Abdullahi Muku; Director-General, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr. Mike Omeri; Director General, Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC), Sir Ferdinand Anikwe; and the SA to the ES, NICO, Mr. Law Ezeh, among others.

Caleb Nor

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO, Abuja