Immediate past Director, International Cultural Relations Department at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Mr. Nkanta George Ufot, has retired from the Federal Civil Service of Nigeria amidst celebration by officers and close associates for meritorious service to fatherland.

This played out during a send-forth ceremony and visual exhibition, organised in his honour on Monday, 23rd October, 2017 at the China Cultural Centre, Abuja by culture workers at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with China Cultural Centre, Abuja-FCT.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Ms. Grace Isu Gerkpe, in a tribute, described Ufot as an astute culture administrator and a good listener, whose exceptional contributions to the culture sector and Nigeria, at large, can never be forgotten.

Represented by Mr. Hussani Dayar, a Director in the Ministry, the Permanent Secretary expressed pleasure to have worked with Ufot for several years, saying, as a culture icon of no mean repute, he contributed his best to build a vibrant cultural sector and ensured the preservation and promotion of our rich cultural heritage.

For Mr. Yan Xiangdong, the Director, China Cultural Centre, Abuja, George Ufot is a special culture icon, who, during his period of service to his nation, showed that he is knowledgeable and very hardworking.

According to him, during Ufot’s tour of duty, as Director of Culture and later Director of International Cultural Relations, his love for cross border cultural exchange and promotion through friendly activities benefitted the international community, which is evident in the success achieved in cultural exchanges between China and Nigeria.

His words: “Under his superintendent, both countries enjoyed rich cultural exchanges leading to the establishment of Cultural Centres in both countries. Mr. Ufot has been in the forefront of promoting the fraternal relationship between both countries with such testimonies”.

Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Associate Professor Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, who fondly caled him, “Man Georgy”, in his tribute, said there is no doubting the fact that George Ufot has made a mark in theatre and cultural administration in Nigeria, saying, as a cultural officer par excellence; and as a unique Director, he has made indelible footprints in the sands of time.

His words: “It is not easy for one to put in 35 years of meritorious service. Ufot is somebody, who is always easy going, friendly, does not have issues with people and had been very passionate about the job; and, of course, he is somebody that will always carry his officers along to make sure they learn on the job.

“He is quite an amiable person and having known him since 1984 till date, I am happy that he has gone through the system; and I think he is one culture icon that Nigeria will always depend, on especially when it comes to policy matters in the culture sector”.

Speaking in the same vein, the Director-General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), Mrs. Chika Balogun, described Ufot as a quintessential public servant, who exhibited an exemplary character of hard work, diligence, dedication and commitment to duty.

While attributing Mr. Ufot’s successful sojourn in the Federal Civil Service to his loyalty, zeal and commitment to service, Mrs. Balogun commended him, saying for the period she had worked with Ufot, he exhibited a rare trait and spirit of team work, support and cooperation in the execution of any job that was brought to his attention.

“I call him Mr. Culture. He is an excellent gentleman, a true great Nigerian, who has done very well for the culture sector. I have worked very closely with him in the last seven years and it’s been an awesome experience. He is an excellent team player; he knows his product very well, always willing to learn and impart knowledge for others to grow”.

“I hope that the culture sector would hold unto him very dearly because there is a lot of experience behind the work he has done. He is a man who knows how to put together a good team to drive a project and execute excellently. For sure, the Ministry will miss him; but it is my hope that for the sake of Nigeria, we’ll be able to, somehow, retain his intellect and the wise counsel he gives so that we can continue to move the culture and tourism family forward”, she said.

Responding, the celebrant, while speaking to newsmen had this to say: “My brother, I feel loved by my friends, family and colleagues. Since morning, it has been like this; people pulling me out, marching and singing at the gate of the Federal Secretariat. Such things don’t happen all the time. They are a wonderful family and I must confess they have done so much and I must confess that I am excited”.

He therefore encouraged the ones coming behind him to work hard, stressing that it is hard work that gives man recognition in any chosen career, saying as long as they work hard, they will be recognized.

“You may think that you are not being noticed, but you are being noticed all the times. Your Directors and Heads of Departments will always notice you and review your work”, he said.

Caleb Nor

Media Assistant-ES