The Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has appealed to the private sector to step up efforts towards exploring investment opportunities in the culture sector, adding that the sector had a prospective and great future and one of the potent tools to drive the development goals and aspirations of Nigeria.

Lai Mohammed stated this while speaking at Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, during the closing ceremony of the 29th edition of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) 2016, organised by the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC).

KeshiRepresented by the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Mrs. Dayo Keshi, the Minister stated that the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture would partner with local and International bodies like Tony Elumelu Foundation and the British Council for human capacity development in the sector, and encouraged the private sector to show more than a passing interest in the creative sector.

He commended participants in this year’s NAFEST for their collective spirit, zeal and efforts, as well as the high display of creative excellence, including the high quality in the packaging of cultural products.

Lai Mohammed further stated that NAFEST 2016 had fulfilled the original concept of serving as a tool for national unity, given the high turn up of participants, despite the current recession, stressing that all over the world, the creative sector has continued to thrive in spite of economic down-turn.

In her remarks, the Director-General, NCAC, Mrs. Dayo Keshi, who was represented by Mr. Otuekong Nse Edem, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Akwa Ibom State, said that NAFEST 2016, with the theme, “Exploring the Goldmine Inherent in Nigeria’s Creative Industries”, was conceptualised to draw the attention of both the public and private sectors to the primary aim of the industry in this era of diversification.

She also highlighted the inclusion of children in the area of essay writing, drawing and poetry competitions in this year’s NAFEST, saying the festival has evolved into a veritable platform for projecting the diverse rich cultural heritage of the Nigerian people, as well as stimulating cultural awareness in the country.

In all, seventeen states participated in NAFEST 2016 with Bayelsa State emerging the overall winner, while the host state, Akwa Ibom State and the Federal Capital Territory, clinched the second and third positions, respectively.

The Executive Secretary of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Associate Professor Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma was represented at the event by Ms Justina Akhilome, the NICO South-East Zonal Co-ordinator.

Recall that the Executive Secretary had few weeks ago visited and watched the rehearsals of the Bayelsa State Cultural Troupe in preparation for NAFEST 2016, where he encouraged and advised them as they put finishing touches to their preparations for the competitive drama event.  

Dignitaries that were in attendance at the closing ceremony included the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, His Excellency Emmanuel Udom, represented at the occasion by Otuekong Emmanuel Ibiok, the Akwa Ibom Honourable Commissioner for Culture and Tourism; Dr. Nkereuwem Edemekong, Director, Centre for Cultural Studies, University of Uyo, HRM Chief Effiong Archionga, the Paramount Ruler of Ibeno and Chairman, Akwa Ibom State Council of Chiefs; and Ambassador Joe Keshi, husband of the DG, NCAC, amongst others.

Esther Ziprekumo