ONYINYECHI UDEMEZUE, Abuja
AS the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) held its 2014 and 11th edition of her Honours Award, the Niger State Governor, Dr. Ma’azu Babangida Aliyu, Dr. Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion as well as former Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, were among the recipients of the awards meant to recognise arts lovers and promoters across the country.
Also on the list of the awardees were, Emir of Borgu, Dr. Haliru Dantoro III, for the promotion of arts and culture in Nigeria; Alhaji Otunba Adebayo Salami; Mr. Dayo Adedayo as well as some past chief executives of NCAC including the immediate past DG, Mr. M.M. Maidugu, Prof. Sule Bello and the Late Emma Nnakaenyi Arinze, who was honoured posthumously.
While the chief Servant of Niger State received the Grand Award for Outstanding Patron of the Culture Sector; Founder, Igbinedion University, Sir (Dr) Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion was honoured with the Grand Icon of Nigerian Culture award.
Also, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode was honoured for his outstanding promotion of the culture sector; Dr. Dantoro for promoting Nigerian culture through festivals; Alhaji Salami for promoting Nigerian culture through Nollywood; Mr. Adedayo for promoting Nigerian culture through photography and Channels Television for serving as a media partner in cultural promotion. The Nigerian Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) was equally honoured for promoting literature and book development.
The NCAC’s Staff Productivity Award which seeks to recognize and reward members of staff who have excelled in the discharge of their various assignments was incorporated in this year’s series as well.
Speaking on this year’s theme: “Work Ethics, Productivity and Public Morality”, the guest lecturer, Dr. Sally Nkem Adukwu-Bolujoko said the programme is designed to celebrate Nigerian culture by identifying and recognizing those who have contributed to the promotion of Nigeria’s cultural heritage.
She called on the staff and management of the council to always uphold the core ethics establishing NCAC noting that, “work ethics have in-built core concepts which translate into disciplined and healthy work environment which include objectivity, transparency; equity and fairness, customer satisfaction, accountability; integrity, good service delivery among many other values.
The guest lecturer noted that work ethics are the panacea that provides the conducive environment for any meaningful work to be carried out in an organization.
On his part, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke said he was very pleased that the platform has continued to promote the culture of appreciation and reward for hardwork adding that “this motivational mechanism and work can only result in improved staff productivity and work place integrity”.
The minister however commended the council’s efforts for sustaining the lofty initiatives over the years.
According to him, “I urge the council not only to keep it up as a form of encouragement for the growth of the industry but to expand it further to cover most of the achievers and practitioners in the industry”.
He charged this year’s award recipients covering the areas of Nollywood, Cultural Administration, Visual Arts, Festivals; Photography among others to utilize their creativity, talent and expertise as well as their outfits to advance the culture industry with a view to contributing meaningfully to the transformation agenda of the present administration.
Duke noted that, “All over the world, the sector is becoming a preferred sector that has great economic prospect and when fully developed can be rated to be one of the greatest sectoral contributors to the national economy. Hence all hands must be on deck to grow the sector into the oil substitute that the country eagerly awaits”.
Earlier in her remarks, the Director-General of NCAC, Mrs. Dayo Keshi said the objective of the council’s Honours Lectur was to celebrate Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in contributing to the development of Nigerian Arts and Culture within their chosen areas of endeavour.
She said the council has through the platform recognised many eminent Nigerians for their various contribution to the growth of he culture sector.
Speaking on the NCAC Staff Excellence and Productivity Award, she said this is aimed at encouraging and rewarding hardworking staff of the council that has distinguished themselves in their respective assignments over the years.
Mrs. Keshi who assumed the leadership of the council barely three months ago said she has been able to successfully organized the 2014 of NAFEST which took place in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi state capital followed by the 8th edition of National Quiz competition for secondary schools in Nigeria held in Awka, Anambra state among others.
She said the focus of the council is to enhance the various possibilities that would make the sector more vibrant by promoting the potentials and economic value of the sector which would in turn attract direct investiment into promoting their festivals and production, and packaging of the nation’s Arts and Crafts amongst others.
According to her, “To achieve the above, number of innovative steps, concepts and ideas will be required.
“As NCAC turns 40 next year, our plan is to use the platform to build bridges of understanding and networking with all the stakeholders whose contributions are vital to the growth of the arts and culture sector.
“We are also looking forward to the commencement of a Multi Storey Iconic Building for the arts at the NCAC permanent site located in the Central Area of Abuja. The establishment of an Arts and Crafts Dome to serve as an outlet for the marketing and sales of finished cultural products would increase the economic viability of products from our cultural industries”.
The Council’s boss also said, “As a priority, NCAC Arts and Crafts Acquisition Centres across the country will be strengthened and equipped to serve as vocational training centres for youths and women at grassroot level in the various aspect of Arts and Crafts production, finishing, packaging and marketing”.
She said NCAC would endeavor to ensure the establishment of an Art Bank that would ensure regular sales of well produced art works which would in turn create more jobs and bring wealth to the grassroots.
Keshi disclosed that, “We look forward to turning Abuja into an art-hub with a beehive of activities especially at weekends to encourage a leisure culture amongst Nigerians which showcasing and promoting the products of our cultural industries.
“We will also encourage Regional Cultural Festivals to consolidate the gains of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) to stimulate grassroot participation in cultural activities for their economic benefits”.
Responding after receiving the award, Esama of Benin Kingdom, Dr. Igbinedion called on the NCAC management and the nation at lager to keep an eye on the future on how the nation can possibly develop a culture of excellence and groom the next generation of Nigerians to be and remain formidable apostles of the Nigerian culture by making an impact on the world stage.
In his words, “From an educational perspective, I believe that we need to focus on inspiring our youths and giving them opportunities to discover and develop stronger desire for cultural themes and cultivate the right mindsets and attitudes towards learning.
“I wish to add that the media is known to be the mirror of the society, especially to the youths, the portrayal of ritualism, diabolism, etc in the Nigerian movie industry is an erroneous reflection of the Nigerian culture. I implore its rich contents can be used as a positive means to portraying our rich cultural heritage, especially for the benefit of the upcoming youths”.
The Esama of Benin Kingdom also took a swipe on the management of the Abuja carnival saying, the carnival has been watered down that and it is gradually losing its test and focus.
According to him, “I nurtured Abuja carnival from inception but when I saw the direction it was going, I withdrew from it. We can’t continue destroying what we have, the carnival needs to be revived”.