Greetings and Congratulations

I am particularly glad to be here this evening to witness the historic launch of the Nigerian Drum Festival, the first of its kind anywhere in this country or in Africa. For this, l am most grateful for your kind invitation and wish to thank His Excellency, Senator lbikunle Amosun, the Government and people of Ogun State, for the great initiative and vision designed to promote and preserve an aspect and an important one for that matter, of our cultural heritage. May l also commend the hardworking commissioner of culture of Ogun state and his very able staff whose tireless efforts and commitments have produced the inspiring and wonderful performances we are witnessing this evening. I therefore pray Your Excellency to ensure that this great initiative thrives and is sustained beyond this administration.

There is an increasing recognition of the enormous potentials for festivals such as the Nigerian Drums Festivals holding here in the ancient city of Abeokuta, Ogun State. Festivals are one of the best ways to stimulate economic growth. It helps to integrate the rural population into the economic system, generate employment and wealth in a way that its impact is felt at every level, right from the grass root, the state, national to the international arena. In this manner festivals contribute to the preservation of our cultural heritage.

What the Drum festival has demonstrated is the fact that every state in Nigeria has cultural products around which cultural industries could be built in such a way that it becomes a win- win situation for everybody especially in terms of income generation for the grassroots. In this way, there is a bottom up creation of wealth. It is also for these reasons that under my leadership of the National Council of Arts and Culture, we are determined to launch between now and next year, specialized national festivals to ensure the preservation and sustainability of our cultural heritage. What was bequeathed to us, we must preserve and pass on to our children.

It is for this reason and to project Nigeria as a tourist destination that we are working to initiate and organize the following festivals:

  • The National Durbar Festival (North)
  • The National Masquerade Festival (South-East)
  • The National Boat Regatta (Riverine states)
  • The Traditional Textile Festival (South-West)
  • The Nigeria Contemporary Arts Festivals
  • The National Folklore Songs Festival

Creative Cities

In furthering the growth of Nigeria’s creativity, festivals arts and crafts, l urge each state to consider the establishment of an arts and craft village across important cities in the states, in particular, in the state capital. Beyond bringing together cultural products from all the local government areas, the arts and craft village would serve as a commercial hub or market for our arts and crafts. This would not only boost and stimulate growth of the rural economy; it will drive and promote productivity and increased creativity among arts and craft practitioners in Nigeria.

The Artists Village also becomes a source of huge encouragement for art vendors who now will have the responsibility of selling artworks. For effectiveness and sustainability, they should be supported with soft loans from relevant agencies to enable the vendors focus on marketing and promoting their products. The art vendors, l believe would be more successful in marketing than the artists themselves as we all know that Artists are not the best at marketing their works. Perhaps, of great importance is that the arts and crafts village keeps the artists focused on production of their works within their local environment with access to their raw materials.

The success of such arts markets could be seen in the arts and crafts market along the Lekki axis of Lagos State where many visitors including foreigners visit daily despite the unconducive environment. It is amazing how much transactions are conducted on a daily basis in that market.

To further promote the expansion of this sector, the private sector should be encouraged to also establish art malls where the best of arts works drawn from all over the country could be sold. This will eventually become a tourist attraction and would certainly have a strong effect on the economy.

Indeed, if there is any sector that can assist the present administration in the quest for change, it is the culture sector. This is because Nigeria’s cultural industries are broad based in structure and could be harnessed to serve as a pedestal for Nigeria’s economic diversification and for building a sustainable economy.

In conclusion, let me reiterate that like all goldmines there is the need for investment in the creative industries. Without such a structured investment to open and strengthen the sector, it cannot contribute meaningfully to diversifying the economy. Yet, this is a sector that has the capacity to generate massive economic benefits to Nigeria as a nation. It presents the low hanging fruits which could be harnessed in the shortest possible time for quick economic gains. This is one sector where Nigerians remain the main drivers without the need for foreign experts or technology.

Again, l say, a big congratulation to Your Excellency and to your team. So, let the drums roll from Ogun state resonating the Heart beat of Nigeria. Let it roll across the continent of Africa!

Thank you all.

*** This Goodwill Message By The Director-General, National Council For Arts And Culture (NCAC), Mrs. Dayo Keshi, Was Delivered At The Nigerian Drums Festival Held At The Cultural Centre, Kuto-Abeokuta, Ogun State, On Tuesday, 19th April, 2016.