World Culture Day: Minister Calls For Peaceful Co-existence

The Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said Nigerians must imbibe the culture of peaceful co-existence, stressing the need for continuous promotion of the nation’s cultural heritage, values, beliefs and norms as a contribution to national growth and development.

Lai Mohammed stressed this on Monday in Abuja during the 2018 World Culture Day celebration with the theme: “The Role of Culture in Peaceful Co-existence.” He said Nigerians should use their culture as a unifying factor to live in harmony and co-exist peacefully.

Represented by the Acting Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Mr. Louis Eriomala, Lai Mohammed said until Nigerians change their negative perceptions towards people who are culturally, ethnically and religiously different, the much desired peaceful co-existence will remain a mirage.

In his words “Every one of us must realize that unless we learn to change the negativities that we have within ourselves towards people who are culturally, ethnically and religiously different from us, peaceful co-existence can never be achieved and culture is central to peaceful co-existence, hence its importance to building a better understanding”.

Continuing, “We need to have a solid understanding that diversity and plurality of cultures and ethnicities are part of creation that must be sustained for the good of mankind and society in general.”

According to him, the involvement of children in celebrating our cultural diversity will go a long way to inculcate in them the moral values of our culture at an early stage. This, he said, will remain fresh in their memory as they continue to choose the culture of peace as alternative to violence and conflict.

He therefore commended the staff and management of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, stakeholders, Chief Executives of the Ministry’s parastatals, especially NICO for the leading role it played, for their contribution to the success of the 2018 World Culture Day.

On her part, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Deaconess Grace Isu Gekpe who was represented at the occasion by the Deputy Director, External Cultural Services, Mr. Augustus Ajibola said without our enduring cultural norms and values, Nigerians will continue to live in a state of anarchy, lawlessness and disorderliness, especially with the recent social problems that have enveloped some parts of the country today.

She maintained that the unity of Nigeria is a collective responsibility that can be achieved through our cultural institutions. This, she said, will give rise to sustained peaceful inter-personal, inter-tribal and inter-religious relationships for the socio-economic empowerment of our people and sustainable developmental projects and programmes in the country.

In a goodwill message, the Director General, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Ms. Audrey Azoulay, who was represented at the event by the National Professional Officer, UNESCO Regional Office, Abuja, Mr. Ifeanyi Ajaegbo said the 2018 World Culture Day presents a call for the world to look beyond acknowledging diversity to recognizing the benefits of cultural pluralism, regarded as an ethical and political principle of equal respect for cultural identities and traditions.

Audrey said UNESCO places high recognition on cultural diversity as part of the common heritage of humanity, and as a driving force for peace and prosperity. She maintained that there is need to protect the different types of cultural expression like languages, arts, crafts and lifestyles especially of the minority people so that they are not swept away by the movement of standardization that accompanies globalization.

Professor Emmanuel Dandaura, a lecturer at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), in a lecture entitled “The Role of Culture in Peaceful Co-existence in Nigeria” said it is important for Nigerians to appreciate and safeguard our culture which has to do with the values that bind us together as a people.

Dandaura who lamented the fact that Nigerians easily identify with other cultures that are unique and strange to them but hardly place value on their own culture, said “We need to recognize that culture is alive. Culture is a living thing. Our culture was very sufficient for us before colonialism which came and distorted a lot of things.”

He therefore identified language, food, music and dances, festivals and media literacy as various avenues that can be used to promote peaceful co-existence.

In all, five (5) select secondary schools from the Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), The Vine International Academy, Nyanya; Junior Secondary School, Iddo Sarki; Anglican Girls Grammer School; Tophill Schools and Model Secondary School, Maitama, participated in fashion parade, music and dance performance. There was also a roundtable discussion on “The Role of Culture in Peaceful Co-existence” where the children showcased their knowledge on issues related to cultural diversity, how culture can be used to promote peaceful co-existence, the benefits of peaceful co-existence, characteristics of national co-existence and the debate on whether peaceful co-existence is an asset or obstacle.

Among Chief Executives of culture parastatals present were the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture, Otumba Runsewe, who was represented by Mr. James Obeahon and Mrs. Victoria Osuagwu, who represented the Acting Director-General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments among others.

Management Staff from the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), who attended the event were Mr. Alex Omijie, Director, Orientation & Cultural Affairs; Mr. Ibrahim Hussaini, Director, Admin & Human Resources; Mr. Mike Ekoko, Ag. Director, Research & Documentation; Mr. Law Ezeh, Deputy Director/SA to Acting ES; Mrs. Francisca Okoro, Assistant Director, Cultural Affairs; Mr. Segun Adegbaju, Assistant Director, Orientation; and Mrs. Maria Okpuzor, Assistant Director, Documentation, among others.

Caleb Nor

Media Assistant to Ag. ES