The Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has called on Nigerians to emulate the warm cooperation existing among Asian countries, saying there is need to come together in order to build a united nation.

Lai Mohammed made this call at the opening ceremony of the 1st edition of the Asian Film Festival-Nigeria 2017, which held at the Chinese Cultural Centre, Abuja, the Federal capital Territory, on Monday, 3rd July, 2017.

Represented by the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr. Hussani Dayar, the Minister said the coming together of Asian countries to organize such a cultural programme is an initiative worth emulating.

His words: “It is a very good initiative; and as a nation, we have been challenged and impressed by this show of cooperation existing among the Asian countries. This event, I believe, will allow us to see the culture of the various Asian countries”.

Lai Mohammed, who acknowledged that Nigeria is a diversified nation, maintained that there is still the need for close collaboration between all our regions.

He was of the view that at a time nations of the world are coming together to form Mega Alliances, Nigeria does not need to live in isolation; and that as a matter of urgency, the country must learn from the experience of the Asian countries.

In his speech, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, H.E. Mr. Zhou Pingjian, said that the film festival will serve as a good platform to promote Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry, stressing that the industry is not only famous in Nigeria but also in Africa and indeed the entire world.

According to him, there is the need to come together under such platform to give the different countries the opportunity to understand each other better; and disclosing that, as diversified as Asia is, the Asian countries have still come together to showcase the continent’s film industry to Nigeria, believing that Nigeria too, though a diversified country, can also communicate very well with Asia through the film industry.

While appreciating the contributions of the Nigerian film industry to the world, Pingjian said just as we have Nollywood in Nigeria, Asia has a very good film industry and it will be a good idea to show films together to help Nigerian friends and the Asian people understand themselves better.

On his part, veteran Nollywood actor, Francis Duru, who spoke to journalists on the importance of the festival, said it was indeed a platform for inter-cultural exchange between the Asian countries and Nigeria, where the film industry in Nigeria can also extend tentacles to other nations that have big film industries.

His words: “By virtue of what Nollywood has done to the country in retrospect, building or respecting our culture, exposing our cultural heritage and the potentials that lie in this industry, it is worthwhile they have organized such a festival, which goes a long way to cement the relationship between the countries involved”.

He observed that coming at a time most Nigerians are speaking disintegration, the Asian countries are coming together to celebrate their unity and togetherness, adding that the festival is therefore time for us to think around the strength that brings us together as a people, stressing that if a people outside can see it and understand it, it will be an embarrassment that will go deep into splitting the thing that brings us together.

Duru maintained that Nollywood, on its own, has already taken a stand to be a rallying point for unity and cultural exchange in order to celebrate the heritage of Nigeria and will always accommodate anybody from any part of the globe who comes to say: “Let’s do this because we have all it takes to do more”.

Diplomats present at the occasion included the Korean Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency Mr. Noh Kyu-duk; Counsellor of the Indonesian Embassy in Nigeria, Her Excellency Mdm. Tuty Dityawanty; the Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of Thailand in Nigeria, His Excellency Mr. Sakeson Sarobol; Vietnamese Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency Mr. Pham Anh Tuan; High Commissioner of Malaysia to Nigeria, His Excellency Mr. Lim Juay Jin; Philipine Ambassador to Nigeria, Her Excellency Shirley Ho Vicario; Iranian Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency Mr. Morteza Rahimi and Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency Sadanobu Kusaoke amongst others.

Among Chief Executives of Culture present were the Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Assoc. Prof. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, who was represented by the Acting Director, Research and Documentation, Mr. Mike Ekoko; and the Director-General, Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC), Dr. Ferdinand Anikwe.

Caleb Nor

Media Assistant to ES

NICO HQ, Abuja