It was a gathering of literary giants, culture enthusiasts, diplomats, university dons, top government functionaries, Nollywood stars, beauty queens, models, captains of industry, and dignitaries from all walks of life in Akure, the Ondo State capital, as the State Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Special Duties unveiled the faces of the states Cultural Ambassadors on Tuesday, 19th January, 2016, in a history making event at the International Culture and Event Centre (The Dome), off Igbatoro Road, Alagbaka, Akure.
Speaking at the occasion, the Executive Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, said that the occasion was a prelude to the 40th Anniversary of the Creation of Ondo State and the 7th Year Anniversary of his administration, commending the Honourable Commissioner for Culture, Tourism and Special Duties, Mr. Femi Adekambi, for the giant stride in trying to create alternative sources of revenue generation from the cultural potentials of the state.
While congratulating the Cultural Ambassadors, the Governor commended them for being distinguished, intelligent Nigerians and worthy sons and daughters of ‘the sunshine state’ and also making themselves available for the tasks ahead, saying 2016 is a promising year and urged them to put on their ‘creative thinking caps’ in selling the cultural resources of Ondo State to the outside world.
Delivering the keynote address, entitled, “Culture: An Alternative to Petroleum,” a world acclaimed literary icon, Professor Kole Omotosho, stressed the need for Ondo State Government to look inward for the untapped cultural resources that abound in state instead of over-dependence on petroleum, as prices are dwindling in the international oil market.
Omotosho lamented the sorry state of some cultural sites in Ondo State, such as, the Igbo Olodumare at Oke-igbo, the Deji’s Palace in Akure, Oke-maria in Oka-Akoko, and that if attention is directed to these sites, they would attract tourists, thereby improving the revenue base of the Ondo State.
Earlier in his speech, the Honourable Commissioner for Culture, Tourism and Special Duties, Mr. Femi Adekambi expressed reservation on the fall in crude oil prices in the global market and the depreciation of the naira, which makes it imperative for government to look beyond crude oil and tap into other sources of revenue generation, saying the culture and tourism sector is one of those alternative sources the state is focusing on.
He also highlighted some of the challenges the society is facing due, largely, to unconscious neglect of our cultural values and ideals, and that there was urgent need to fine-tune strategies to inculcate social ideals, like the culture of dignity, respect for elders and people in positions of authority, use of Yoruba language and wisdom, as well as the Yoruba concept, “Ise loogun Ise” (hard work is the antidote to success) in our children.
Mr. Adekambi, also used the opportunity to unveil the Ministry’s 2016 Programme Plan, which include, Ondo State Carnival, MARE International Cultural and Sporting Festival, Packaging of Ondo State Cultural Troupe for International Performance Tours, Schools Cultural Programmes, Monthly Variety Night (at The Dome, Akure) and Promotion of Idanre Hills Resort.
While presenting the Cultural Ambassadors, he said that their responsibilities include sourcing for fund and sponsors to develop the culture and tourism potentials as well as generating revenue to the state.
The Cultural Ambassadors unveiled, include, popular juju maestro, King Sunny Ade; Nollywood stars: Funsho Adeolu, Jibola Dabo, Bimbo Oshin, Yemi Olatunji (Yemi Black), Omotola Jolade-Ekeinde; Nigerian first female talking drummer, Araola Olumuyiwa (Ara); and talk show host and TV producer, Mosunmola Abudu, popularly known as, Mo Abudu.
The Ambassadors felt elated for the honour bestowed on them by the Ondo state government and promised to use all the available resources, within their reach, locally and internationally, for the preservation, propagation and promotion of the cultural heritage of the state
The National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) was not left out of the event, as the Zonal Head, Mr. James Imohiosen was accompanied to the occasion by Mohammed Babangida, Anakpoha Ogaga, Stephen Ayomoba and Alfanla Mustapha,.