The Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said capacity building workshops for Nigerian cultural workers will go a long way to enhance their professional skills and competence for effective service delivery.

Alhaji Mohammed who stated this while delivering his address at the opening ceremony of a 2-day workshop, organised by the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) on Thursday, March 28, 2019 at Oasis Grand Hotel, Mararaba, Nasarawa State, stressed the need for cultural workers to be adequately trained and equipped to live up to professional demands and challenges of duty.

The Minister who was represented by the Director, Human Resources in the Ministry, Mr. Sunday Ewa, maintained that the ministry places high premium on training of cultural workers at all levels especially at grade level 7-13.

While urging participants to accord the training all the seriousness it deserves, Lai Mohammed reiterated the need for culture workers at the federal and state levels to be abreast of emerging global trends and contemporary realities in the sector if we must make culture a viable alternative to oil in Nigeria’s economy.

Earlier in his address, the Acting Executive Secretary of NICO, Mr. Louis Eriomala, intimated that it is in line with NICO’s primary responsibility of harnessing Nigeria’s culture for national development that the capacity building programme is conceptualised as a platform where professionals in the sector meet annually to be kept abreast of developments and trends in the culture sector; sharpen their skills and competences towards effective service delivery; as well as respond to professional needs and challenges of participants.

Mr. Eriomala responding to questions from journalists shortly after the opening ceremony averred that, there is a correlation between culture and economy, and that some countries have understood it, and are leveraging on it to boast their economy. He also held the view that if Nigeria’s economy must improve, respect for the rule of law, honesty, and culture of dignity of labour must be appreciated by the citizenry.

He therefore, enjoined the private sector to leverage on the enabling environment the Nigerian government at all levels has created to drive the economy in the culture and tourism sector.

Six papers were presented during the technical sessions of the workshop which include: Cultural Policy and the Challenges of Cultural Administration by Professor Mabel Evwierhoma (Director, Diaspora Centre, University of Abuja); Mainstreaming Culture in the Nation’s Economic Agenda by Prof. Ama Doki (Dean, Faculty of Arts, Benue State University, Makurdi); and Museum in Contemporary Nigeria by Dr. (Mrs) Carolyn Ezeokeke (Director, Educational Services and Training, National Commission for Museum and Monuments).

Others are Cultural Research and Report Writing by Prof. Barth Oshionebo (Department of Theatre Arts, University of Abuja); Cultural Events Planning and Management by Prof. Emmanuel Dandaura (Executive Director, Institute for Strategic & Development Communication, Nasarawa State University, Keffi); and Cultural Diplomacy and National Development by Dr. Philip Umaru (Department of Theatre & Cultural Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi).

The question and answer session gave the 52 participants drawn from Federal Ministry of Information and Culture; National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Nigerian Tourism Development Commission(NTDC), National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Studies( NIHOTOUR), Benue State Council for Arts and Culture, NICO staff from headquarters Abuja, zonal and state offices the opportunity to ask questions, make contributions and observations on the three papers presented.

Participants such as Lanre Arepo, Obiora Nwaegbe, Saadat, Bola Adedoye, Chimezie Ugwuoke fielded questions bothering on artefacts in Nigerian museums and its spiritual potency; reorientation drive to make Nigerians believe in their cultural heritage and in turn sell such to foreigners; how cultural festivals and its calendar can be used to attract foreign grants and why is there paucity of funds and lack of legislation for cultural festivals in Nigeria.

Others present at the opening ceremony of the Repositioning Workshop were Director, NICO Training School, Lagos, Mrs. Brigette; Director, Orientation and Cultural Affairs, NICO, Mr. Alex Omijie among others.

It would be recalled that the NICO Repositioning Workshop for workers in the culture sector started in 2014 to further create a training programme for Cultural Officers to be equipped apart from the Post Graduate Diploma, Advanced Diploma and Ordinary Diploma in Cultural Administration that is currently taught in training arm of the institute.

Njideka Dimgba

E.S Office, NICO