The National Programme Officer (Culture), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)'s Regional Office, Abuja-FCT, Mr. Ifeanyi Ajaegbo, has affirmed that, culture has the potentials to drive Nigeria's economy, saying, UNESCO and particularly those in the culture sector, agree very strongly and very deeply with the position of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) that, culture has the potential to drive Nigeria's economy.
Mr. Ajaegbo, who stated this in his speech during a courtesy call on NICO’s Executive Secretary, Associate Professor Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, at the Institute’s Headquarters, No. 23, Kigoma Street, Wuse Zone 7, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, on Tuesday, 22nd August, 2017, said that the visit was to renew the UNESCO Regional Office's working relationship with the Institute, averring that culture was not just about the intangible cultural heritage and the natural sites but that culture should leave their sites and penetrate into the pockets of the people of Nigeria, economically.
The UNESCO National Programme Officer (Culture) further said that, culture was the only industry in the world that employs the largest number of youths from the ages of 16-39 globally, adding that, statistic has it that there are about 24 million youths out of the 30 million estimated employees of the cultural industry in the whole world.
He disclosed that UNESCO believed it was high time Nigerians started looking at culture, as an economic catalyst and driver for the economy, stressing: “the reasons are very simple, look at Nollywood, which at the moment is the second biggest film industry in the world”; and that if the impediments and challenges could be removed, it has the potentials of becoming the second biggest economic film industry in the world.
Ajaegbo thereby intimated the ES that UNESCO hopes, as it enters into the new biennium, in its bid to propel culture into its deserved space as an economic catalyst, NICO, as the focal agency, would be there and be called upon regularly to look at what UNESCO would be doing in that direction.
He noted that, culture would be one of the concept notes that should be discussed by UNESCO in the General Conference in November this year, and that the UNESCO Regional Office in Abuja was only a regional office that covers Benin, Togo, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Liberia, and other West African countries, and may not conclusively say that the proposal for Nigeria would work for other member states in the region.
The UNESCO National Programme Officer (Culture) noted that the proposal to be submitted for Nigeria and through NICO, an Institute in Nigeria, if accepted by UNSCO globally, could be done and the same process could be replicated in other states so that there would be a clearing house for every matter relating to culture.
Earlier, in his power point presentation, the Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Associate Professor Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, thanked the UNESCO team for the visit, as he enumerated the Institute's organogram made up of five departments: Administration and Human Resources; Finance and Accounts; Research and Documentation; Orientation and Cultural Affairs; and the Training School; in addition to the Office of the Executive Secretary, as well as its six(6) zonal offices located in the six (6) geo-political zones, the Liaison Office in Lagos, and six (6) state offices across the country.
The ES highlighted the success story of the Institute through programmes, which it has embarked on in the last eight (8) years of his administration, including Promoting Nigerian Dress Culture, which has attracted the attention of the Federal Government; National Conference of Culture, Peace and National Security for Traditional Rulers, which has got the support and partnership of UNESCO; NICO Quarterly Public Lecture, which recently featured the Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha on 4th May, 2017 and the Vice-Chancellor of National Open University Nigeria (NOUN), Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu, on 10th July, 2017 as Distinguished Guest Lecturers, respectively.
According to him, the 4-Week long vacation Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme (NILP) currently going on in all NICO offices nationwide for school children, which has drawn participants from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and embassies, among others, as well as the Weekend Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme (WNILP) platform for workers.
He also mentioned the Children Cultural Extravaganza, a competitive event for children on traditional fashion parade, local cuisines, indigenous languages, hairdos; the NICO Cultural Clubs in Secondary School, among other children-oriented programmes of the institute.
Annual Round Table for Media outfits, Media Workshop for Arts writers and journalists in the country; the Workshop on Repositioning Cultural Workers in the Ministry which the institute organised for the then Ministry of Tourism Culture and National Orientation as well as the annual World Culture Day Celebration which the institute has consistently participated in over the last eight years, among other programmes of the Institute.
The ES NICO, however, decried the lack of access road to the permanent site of the Institute and absence of budgetary allocation for the auditorium building in Kuje-FCT, adding that due to paucity of funds, some of the Institute's programmes have been put on hold, especially the publication of the quarterly newsletter, NICO News and the quarterly Media Workshop for Arts Writers and Editors for two (2) years now.
Prof. Ayakoroma also used the occasion to present the UNESCO team with most of the NICO Publications especially the maiden edition of NICO journal entitled, CultureScope, and Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA) Conference Book of Proceedings 2015, organised by the Institute, which the leader of the team found very interesting.
In the UNESCO entourage were the leader of the delegation and National Programme Officer (Culture), UNESCO Regional Office Abuja, Mr. Ifeanyi Ajaegbo; Mrs. Nseno Emiem of the UNESCO Regional Office, Abuja; Miss Concilia Ifeanyi of the Communication and Information Department of the UNESCO Regional Office, Abuja.
Among the NICO Management Staff present to receive the UNESCO team were Director, Orientation and Cultural Affairs, Mr. Alex Omijie; Director, Administration and Human Resources, Alhaji Ibrahim Husseni; Deputy Director, Research and Documentation, Mrs. Chioma Duru; Head, Finance and Account, Mr. Alfred Ogbe Herbert; Head of Protocol, ES Office, Mr. Ibrahim Malgwi; and Personal Assistant to ES, Mr. Emeka Bokolo; among others.