The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Deaconess Grace Gekpe has said Nigeria needs to make conscious efforts at reviving our cultural values as a panacea to preventing violent conflicts and extremism in the country.

Gekpe made this call in Uyo on Monday, June 10, 2019 during the opening of a 2-day National Conference, organised by the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) with the theme: “Culture, Peace and National Security: The Role of Women and Youths.”

 Grace repRepresented by the Deputy Director, Festival & Carnivals, Mrs. Memunat Idu-lah, the Permanent Secretary said if Nigeria must achieve the desired development as a nation, we must return to our cherished cultural values that have been replaced with negative tendencies by appreciating the relationship between culture and development as well as the nexus between cultural values, peace and security.

In her words “No nation makes meaningful progress in a state of cultural disorientation and insecurity. Nations that are ranked high in the human development index are those that have made culture the bedrock of their national development strategy”.

“Preventing violent conflicts and extremism is imperative for the development of any nation. We are all living witnesses to the dire consequences of violent conflicts in the North East with Boko Haram insurgency. Apart from the wanton destruction of lives and property, thousands of those who survived are in various camps as Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s).

Gekpe who identified women and youths as the most vulnerable in violent crises across the country, however, commended the Management of NICO for making women and youths, who she described as critical factors in peace building and conflict management the focus of the conference.

Louis UyoSpeaking earlier, the Acting Executive Secretary of NICO, Mr. Louis Eriomala called for urgent steps to be taken by stakeholders to fashion out a strategic action plan for youth engagement and empowerment so that their potentials, creative energies and resourcefulness can be beneficial to the socio-political and economic development of the nation.

He disclosed that while previous editions of the conference focused on the role of traditional rulers, the focus of this edition on women and youths is designed as a platform for robust discussion on critical issues of peace and security in Nigeria from the culture stand point. “It is aimed at sensitizing relevant stakeholders to appreciate the nexus between culture, peace and national development. It is noteworthy to state that women and youths are very important segments of the population of this nation. The youths are known for their energy, resourcefulness and creativity”

The NICO Boss further emphasized the participatory nature of Sustainable Governance for Culture by the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which Nigeria is a state party that enjoins active engagement of a diversity of voices in policy making, design and implementation which must include women and youths.

Other dignitaries present at the opening ceremony were Honourable Justice NFN Ntong who was represented by his wife, Mrs. Theresa Ntong, Esq.; Director General, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Dr. Bakut Bakut who was represented by Grace Awudu, a Deputy Director in the Institute; Assistant Corps Commander, Federal Road Safety Commission, Akwa Ibom State, Chinwendu Iwouha; the Rector, Federal Polytechnic, Ukana Dr. Uduak Ukekpe represented by Deputy Rector, Mr. Edet Elija Etuk; and the state Coordinator of National Youth Service Corps, Mrs. Jane Okpongete among others.

Caleb Nor

Media Asst.-Ag. ES