The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Deaconess Grace Gekpe, has called on Nigerians to take advantage of the nation’s cultural diversity as a unifying force, rather than allow it to pose a threat to the nation’s peaceful coexistence.

She made this call at the opening ceremony of the Children’s Cultural Extravaganza, organized by the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) on the theme: “Culture: A Strategic Tool for Peace, Unity and National Integration” at the Cyprian Ekwensi Centre for Arts & Culture, Area 10, Abuja.

Represented by her Special Assistant, Mr. Simon Tyungu, the Permanent Secretary emphasized the need for Nigerians to understand that peace, unity and national integration are the surest ways to building a stronger and better nation.

According to her, “Our country is blessed with a multifaceted cultural heritage, which over time has served as springboard for social integration and national unity. Our rich cultural heritage has birthed all forms of innovation, especially in our arts and craft”, she said.

The permanent Secretary who commended NICO for organizing the Cultural Extravaganza with the theme: “Culture: A Strategic Tool for Peace, Unity and National Integration”, said the event was is a veritable platform for instilling the right values into the younger generation especially at a time when there is prevalence of Western influence and culture, inculcating in them the idea of our culture being our identity.

“It is important for students, especially at this level, to begin to learn and appreciate the right values of our indigenous culture. It is common knowledge that our country is being faced with various challenges of communal crises, farmer’s and herdsmen clashes, etc, which has resulted in unwanted bloodshed”.

Delivering his welcome address, the Acting Executive Secretary of NICO, Mr. Louis Eriomala, said the hope for the future of Nigeria is the younger generation and there is the need for understanding the things that bind Nigerians together as a nation.

In his words “There is no gain saying the fact that if our young people can be sensitized and educated to understand the nexus between peace, unity and national development, Nigerians will have hope for a better future. It is very important that we emphasize to our young ones, the things that bind and unite us which are far more than the things that divide us as a people”.

Eriomala who said NICO organised the event in appreciation of the strategic importance of children in the promotion and preservation of our cultural heritage, further disclosed that the theme of the programme was carefully chosen to underscore the importance of culture in fostering peace, unity and national integration and ultimately, national development.

Other dignitaries present at the event were: Professor Mabel Evwierhoma, Former Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Abuja who was Guest Lecturer; Mrs. Evelyn Otaigbe, Representative of Director General, National Gallery of Arts (NGA); Mrs. Victor Eghararba, Representative of the Executive Secretary, Nigeria Press Council; and Mrs. Blessing Okafor, Representative of the Director General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR).

Caleb Nor

Media Assistant to Ag. ES