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Development in culture, tourism sector good for Nigeria

Runsewe

The Director General of National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Segun Runsewe, has commended culture workers, stakeholders and administrators for ensuring that culture, creative industry (CCI) took prime place in the country’s destination calendar in 2018.

He said these events helped to create a window for organised local and international visits across Nigeria.

The DG noted that the N50 billion spending by holiday makers in Lagos is a huge eye opener to what can tickle down to operators of businesses and the service industry, adding that there is need for a synergistic and well organised CCI “turned up to create jobs for Nigerians.”

According to him, Lagos State government has done well in its culture-inspired tourism projects and hopes that the state will continue to provide the leadership in strategic tourism activities more than ever before.

At the stage presentation of Joseph Edgar’s Duke of Shomolu Production of Oba Eshugbayi last December, the state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, described the sector as the future of the state.

The governor said investment so far made was geared towards using the industry as a springboard to plan for the booming youth population in the state.

His words: “The real Gross Domestic Population (GDP) of Lagos is in entertainment and art, because that is where the future is.”

The number one citizen of Lagos also said, “the population dynamics of Lagos is 95 per cent people below the age of 35 and you have to start to find somewhere to actually fill in that gap to grow the GDP of Lagos. That is why we have decided that we would promote a lot of things in arts, culture and entertainment and that is just the right way to go.”

While promising robust cultural activities for 2019, Runsewe said that NCAC would continue to use culture as a cornerstone to building a solid nation where the citizens shall see its cultural diversity as a source of strength.

The NCAC was established by Decree No. 3 of 1975 and amended by Decree No. 5 of 1987 (now Cap N25 Laws of the Federation 2004). It is a Federal Government organ charged, with the responsibility of coordination, development and promotion of the living arts and culture of Nigeria at national and international fora.

Over the years, its efforts have been to coordinate, preserve, promote and present the best of our crafts, textiles, cuisines, traditional dance, drama, opera, cinema, film, photography, folklore, oral traditions, literature, traditional games, indigenous architecture and to deploy them as tool for forging national unity and identity.

Similarly, its cultural manifestations, which are unique and diverse, is at the front burner in the quest to tap into the unique resources that abound in the culture industry.

Last year, Runsewe revealed he was a visionary culture administrator. In fact, on assumption of office, he made it clear that to market the Nigerian cultures for collective gains, a lot has to be discarded and policies geared at practical development of the sector.

“The sector is tired of paper presentation, workshops and seminars. We want practical,” he told The Guardian.

With INAC and the most successful National festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) in t recent history, Runsewe has proven to be a figure in culture missioning.

The culture chief told The Guardian this year would be ‘culture creative’ for the council, especially with the series of workshops on skills acquisition that have been lined-up to empower Nigerians. He also said that adequate plans were being made to ensure all programmes scheduled for the year in the culture calendar are executed without hitches.

Already, the parastatal has released a date for this year’s International Arts And Crafts (INAC) Expo in Abuja. The event, which is in its 12th edition, holds from November 20 to 24.

Though, no theme has been named, forms are, however, available for intending participants. Last year had over 27 countries and over a hundred local participants.

At the 11th INAC expo, the culture parastatal launched its historic cultural diplomacy day for peace worldwide. The maiden edition holds November 24, this year. The day will be marked globally every year courtesy of NCAC.

The launch of International Cultural Diplomacy for Peace (ICDP) initiative is aimed at uniting the world via culture, arts and crafts.

Runsewe noted that the launch of ICDP was a way to demonstrate that Nigeria, Africa and the world loves peace. In his words, “Nigeria has taken a lead by launching, for the first time in the history of the world, the International Cultural Diplomacy Day for Peace.”

Also speaking at the launch, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, said, “we are using culture to build peace in the world.”

The minister said, “we are using what is common to humanity, our arts and crafts, to bind ourselves together, to build the bridges that could unite all humanity, because no matter which country or continent we come from, we are all humans and we all have the image of God in us.”

And as the 2019 general election approaches, he equally urged critical stakeholders, and indeed, all Nigerians to embrace the long tested culture of peace during and after the elections.

Runsewe charged everyone to maintain the culture of peace and brotherliness that Nigerians have been known for from time immemorial.

He advised interested parties like, the Independent National Electoral Commission, National Council of Women Society, National Youth Council, traditional leaders, NGOs, the media, security agencies and the international community to ensure peace during the elections.

He also enjoined all Nigerians, especially youths, to remain peaceful, as the country goes into an election year, noting that Nigerians have always being peace-loving people irrespective of their ethnic or political leanings.”

A peace programme with the theme, Building a culture of peace towards 2019 elections, was organised recently in Abuja at the instance of NCAC. It was aimed sensitising Nigerians on the need to maintain peace before, during and after next year’s elections.

In furtherance of the advocacy aimed at stemming drug abuse, the DG noted that Nigeria could ape Malaysian and Korean experience as countries that have been successful in tacking the menace of drug abuse since the 1990s by aligning closely with the International Drug Policy Consortium, which is a global network of organisations and professional networks that specialise in issues related to illegal drug production and use.

He noted that Nigeria could engage with the consortium as it promotes objective and open debate on the effectiveness, direction and content of drug policies at national and international level while supporting evidence-based policies that are effective in reducing drug-related harm.

While commending the initiative of the Gen. Buba Marwa-led Presidential Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Drug Abuse (PACEDA), Runsewe said that the initiative is a welcome development considering the challenges of drug abuse amongst Nigerians especially the youths.

He observed that drug abuse has never been part of the African culture, therefore, “the committee has come at the right time to enlighten and educate Nigerians on the dangers of drug abuse.”

He was particularly happy with the committee’s proposal of introducing random drug testing for Nigerians aimed at identifying persons in need of attention and assisting them overcome the challenge of addiction.

Runsewe assured Nigerians that the NCAC would continue to play its part by using the cultural content of the domestic environment to sustain the fight against drug abuse; there was peace before, during and after the election and a country that is the pride of African race.

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