Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said Culture can be deployed as a tool for peace and development in the oil rich Niger Delta region in Nigeria.
The Minister made the remarks in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, on Thursday, at the maiden edition of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) Joint Venture (JV), Host Community Day.
“Yesterday in Abuja, a German Journalist who is visiting Nigeria asked me what my vision of the nation’s Culture Sector is. I told him that my vision is to see a cultural renaissance in the country because of its ability to restore our moral values, which can in turn help in solving many of the problems we, as a nation, face today, whether it is in the area of insecurity, job creation or loss of moral values.
”It is in furtherance of this that I have always made sure to participate in as many festivals and other cultural events as possible, across the country, to give them more visibility and to encourage the organizers,” he said.
Mr. Mohammed said giving the people of the host communities the opportunity to showcase their cultural heritage is a sure way to reconnect them to their roots, and this in turn helps to restore their moral values and self worth, which is a sure recipe for avoiding anti-social activities and criminal tendencies.
“In this maiden edition, the focus is on cultural dance. Winners at the preliminary stages in the four states are here today for the grand finale. By hosting this event, the company is encouraging its host Communities to harness and take advantage of this opportunity with huge potentials for job creation/employment for their teeming youths.
“I have no doubt that this event will stimulate cultural activities on a commercial scale and assist in curbing youth restiveness, pipeline vandalism, oil bunkering and other vices associated with the Oil & Gas Industry in this region.
“It is also hoped that the event will strengthen inter-community relationship as well as Company-Community relationship,” he said.
The Minister congratulated the NAOC JV partners for coming up with the idea of the Host Community Day, which is a day set aside for the people of the company’s host communities in Bayelsa, Delta, Imo and River States to showcase their rich cultural heritage.
“Let me say that the decision by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company and its Joint Venture partners to hold this Host Community Day, with the theme ‘Promoting Our Cultural Heritage’, could not have come at a better time. This is because the Federal Government is also tapping into the huge potentials in the Tourism and Culture Sector not just to promote the nation’s cultural heritage, but to diversify the economy, thus earning more revenue and creating more jobs,” he said.
Mr. Mohammed commended Nigerian Agip Oil Company for its community development activities, especially its Green River Project initiative, where over 38,000 farmers in the four states have been empowered within the last 33 years and Socio-Economic Developmental projects such as roads, water, cottage hospitals, electricity and human capacity development programmes in the area of scholarships and bursaries as well as agro skills training.
In his remarks, the General Manager, District, Nigerian AGIP Oil Company, Alessandro Tiani, said the company recognized that communities are unique by their culture, which holds the key to identity, oneness, integration, growth and ultimately development, hence the need for the Host Community Day.