The Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) and Visiting Associate Professor at the Department of Theatre & Cultural Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, has again stated that, as government works towards the diversification of the economy, there is need to revive the nation’s cultural festivals, stressing that such festivals have the capacity to improve our local economy.

Prof. Ayakoroma, who was responding to questions from an Africa Independent Television (AIT) independent producer, Miss Mary Meshach for the programme, “Nigerian Peoples and Culture”, maintained that festivals are part of our culture and whenever an aspect of a people’s culture is developed, their development index also grows.

According to him, Nigeria’s economy is already in a bad state and there is need for the nation to look beyond oil, as the mainstay of the economy. and explore the cultural dimension to national development, as exemplified by the Asian Tigers.

His words: “Any person, even a blind man knows the economy is in a bad state; and there is need to look beyond crude oil to the direction of our cultural festivals. The crude oil wells will dry up someday and we must, as a matter of necessity, look the way of our culture”.

The NICO Boss, who called on government to give priority attention towards reviving our cultural festivals, in the quest to diversify the economy, expressed confidence that our cultural festivals have the capacity to help Nigeria record significant development.

“Take, for instance, the Calabar Carnival; any time the Carnival is taking place, hotels are fully booked; people turn their houses into lodges, where tourists stay and they make money from there; transporters make brisk business just as owners of restaurants smile home every day with money made from sales. So, the value chain is there and the people are happy”.

Continuing, Ayakoroma said, “Festivals bring people together and if you want to unite a people, bring them together; and that is why the National Festival for Arts and Culture (NAFEST) was conceptualised to bring people together. So, we still believe we can use our festivals to develop our economy”.

While expressing regrets that most festivals across the various states in Nigeria are unexplored, the NICO ES called on all state governments to rise up to the challenge and sell their festivals to the outside world and they will be surprised what the turn out will be.

Ayakoroma, who further recommended his A-Z model for organisers of festivals to look at and bring the economic gains to the nation through such festivals, said every product must sell itself and as such, for any festival to succeed there must be adequate planning but maintained that nothing good comes easy, adding: :It is usually not easy but everything has to do with commitment. All you need to do is have love for what you want to do”.

Caleb Nor

Media Assistant to ES