The Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that there is a lot to harness from Nigeria’s diverse cultures in order to diversify the economy, saying that, “we have a country that has relied for a long time on one product, Oil, hence the need for diversification”.

Lai Mohammed, who stated this in his address at the Quarterly Public Lecture organised by National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), on Thursday, 2nd March, 2017, at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Central Area, Abuja-FCT, with the theme: “Promoting Culture, Developing the Economy” informed that, “Your choice for this programme was very apt because with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) and collaborations the ministry has signed and about to sign with the organised private sector, we want to ensure that culture does not just remain at dancing and music, but to generate income for the nation”.

The Minister thanked the Executive Secretary of NICO, Assoc. Prof. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, for his passion and doggedness in actualising the first NICO Quarterly Public Lecture in 2017, disclosing that forty (40) culture managers were currently having a 2-day training workshop in Lagos on how Nigerian festivals could be better repositioned to rank among the best in the world.

According to him, at the end of the workshop, the managers would be attached to bigger festival managers in Europe for them to observe and understudy how such festivals are run to generate revenue for their host countries.

Earlier, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, Distinguished Senator Matthew Urhoghide, who chaired the occasion, expressed his satisfaction with the choice of the theme because, for him, it was interesting and very significant.

He said it was incumbent on him to support any initiative geared towards making the culture sector responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians, and that the guest lecturer, His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the Executive Governor of Imo State, was a distinguished Nigerian with enormous wealth of experience, both in private sector and in public governance, whose perspective would be invaluable as the country attempts to chart a new way forward for the culture and tourism sector.

The lawmaker reiterated the support and commitment of the 8th Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism to the efforts by government to diversify the nation’s economy, with special focus on the culture and tourism sector, adding that it is his firm belief that with enhanced attention and improved investment, the sector will not only take the nation out of the current recession, it will propel her to the path of economic prosperity; and concluding that, the public lecture would give everybody gathered food for thought to make the culture sector better in Nigeria.

There were goodwill messages from the Royal Father of the Day, Prof. Sani Abubakar Lugga, the Waziri of Katsina, who was represented by the Sarkin Boku, Alhaji Nasimu Mohammed; the President, Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA), Prof. Sunday Enessi Ododo, represented by Prof. Mabel Evwierhoma of the University of Abuja; Hon. Fred Agbedi, Member Representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency, Bayelsa State, and the Director-General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Alhaji Abdallah Usman, who all commended and appreciated the Institute for organising such an apt and timely public lecture, and for taking the Institute to greater heights in the culture sector.

Also at the occasion were the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Mrs. Ayotunde Adesugba; Chairman, Imo State Traditional Rulers Council, HRM Ezeagunwa Samuel Ohiri; Deputy Chief of Staff, Imo State Liaison Office, Abuja, Mrs. Mma Nzeribe-Michael; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal, represented by Flt. Lt. Anthonia Egojiobi.

Other dignitaries from the Ministry included Director-General, National Gallery or Art (NGA), Alhaji Abdullahi Muku; Director-General, National Council for Arts & Culture (NCAC), Mrs. Dayo Keshi; Acting Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs. Mariel Rae-Omoh, Head, Department of Theatre & Cultural Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Hajia Lantana Ahmed; and pioneer Nollywood film director and director of Living in Bondage, Chris Obi-Rapu, among others.

The 1st 2017 NICO Quarterly Public Lecture was delivered by His Excellency Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha, the Executive Governor of Imo State, in an event that was anchored by MC Miracle and spiced with a short drama and dance performances by NICO Cultural Troupe.

Njideka Dimgba

Office of the ES