The Honourable Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has called on Nigerians to constantly deploy culture as a veritable tool for cordial and fruitful foreign relations for the nation.

Lai Mohammed made this appeal while addressing Nigerians and foreign technocrats at a public lecture, organized by the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos with the theme: “Culture as an Effective tool for Foreign Relations”.

Represented by the Acting Director General, Centre for Black African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC), Mrs. Ndidi Aimenwawuu, the Minister emphasized the importance of culture as a critical tool for foreign relations, saying culture plays a vital role in achieving good relationship with other nations of the world by exchanging cultural ideas and materials that will make them appreciate our cultural diversity.

According to him, the use of culture remains a top priority of the present administration of President Mohammadu Buhari in its quest to transform the country. While calling on Nigerians to stay committed and dedicated to the Nigerian project, Lai Mohammed commended the guest lecturer, Dr. Sharkdam Wapmuk, a Senior Fellow and foreign affairs expert at the NIIA for presenting an incisive and thought-provoking lecture, adding that the discourse could not have come at a better time than now that the government is tirelessly working on strengthening its foreign relations with other countries of the world through cultural diplomacy.

The Minister also commended the Management and staff of NICO for providing such a platform for Nigerians to discuss critical issues in the culture sector towards National Development.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Acting Executive Secretary of NICO, Mr. Louis Eriomala said over the years, Diplomats have used culture as a tool for foreign relations as they carried messages, delivered their own culture and brought back foreign ones through the traditional exchange of gifts, which were usually artefacts.

He maintained that this has evolved over the years and can be demonstrated by the establishment of foreign institutions in other countries where their languages are taught to promote their cultures. The NICO Boss further disclosed that culture can be positively deployed in our foreign relations to create understanding; promote our national heritage as well as market the Nigerian brand.

Dignitaries present at the event were; former Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Ethiopia and 2nd Vice President, Association of Retired Career Ambassadors of Nigeria, Otunba (Ambassador) Olusegun Akinsanya, mni who chaired the occasion; former Minister for Foreign Affairs, General Ike Nwachukwu; the Erelu of Lagos, High Chief Mrs. Dosumu; representative of the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Idayat Adebule; pioneer Executive Secretary of NICO, Mrs. Victoria Agodo; and former Deputy Vice Chancellor (Management Services), University of Lagos, Prof. Duro Oni.

Traditional rulers present were; the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land and President of Oodua People’s Congress, Otunba Gani Adams who was represented by Babajide Tanimowo, High Chief Akeem Ojora, Bashorun of Ijora Kingdom, representing and Chief Ishola Esugbayibi Obadara Ojora; the Ejure of Ojora representing the Araba of Oworonsoki.

Uju Ukwu

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO Training School