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Nigeria at 61: Presidency makes culture, tourism statement

By Gregory Austin Nwakunor
03 October 2021   |   4:07 am
For a moment, nobody remembered the banditry in Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna and Katsina states. Nobody remembered the kidnapping across the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari (middle), his Vice, Yemi Osinbajo with Segun Runsewe

• President Commends Runsewe On Treasures Of Nigerian Culture Exhibition
For a moment, nobody remembered the banditry in Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna and Katsina states. Nobody remembered the kidnapping across the country. Nobody remembered the war songs that had built up at the background these past years. No one remembered all the negatives that had taken the front burner of Nigerian media. Everybody was just united to celebrate the birth of a nation in a style that featured music, songs and dances.

Everybody angled to ‘discover’ Nigeria, which incidentally, was the theme of pre-independence celebrations, which held at the State House Conference Centre (formerly Banquet Hall), Abuja venue of the event, on Thursday, September 30, 2021.

The overall goal of the event was to remind all and sundry, the beauty in the country’s diversity, and the strength that it’s unity affords the citizens.

The National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) had a show, where the colours of Nigeria were on parade. The show was an opportunity for the council to display some of the best works from Nigeria — art, craft and cultures, across the six geo-political zones – which was curated by the agency.

From dele jegede’s Dignity of Labour, oil on board, 62×42 dated 1975 to Muri Adejimi’s Marriage, oil on board, 81x62cm, 1980, there were so many art works to see: Jimoh Akolo’s the Flutist, oil on canvas 44×58, 1972, Solomon Wangboje’s Romance of the headload, lino cut 36×58, 1978 and Obiora Udechukwu, Portrait of a Water Dreamer, pen and ink wash, 44×48, 1980.

Nigeria’s cuisine and delicacies were also on display. There was no dull moment in the State House Dome, where NCAC created a Nigerian Village.

The exhibition provided a detailed display of various artworks, artefacts and cultural symbols from various states and ethnic groups in the country.

The very rich diverse show of Nigeria’s culture tourism engagements, captured as treasures of the country, received plaudits from President Muhammadu Buhari, who was accompanied on the historic inspection by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustapha and Niyi Adebayo, Minister of Trade.

President Buhari, who took a brief time off the beat to sit and pose for photograph while sitting on a traditionally carved throne in a palace-like environment, nodded his head in affirmation and endorsement of the show specially put together to celebrate the rich cultural history of Nigeria, the first by any Nigerian government within the precincts of the seat of power.

Otunba Segun Runsewe, who conducted the President and his team round the massive display of artistic and cultural artefacts reflective of the six geopolitical zones of the country, was commended by the President for a great job done to showcase Nigeria as part of the culture activities to mark Nigeria independence at 61 years.

Speaking after the Presidential visit to the very colourful show, Runsewe told The Guardian, “the President visit with the full compliment of his team and the top officers of the National Assembly will send signals to Nigerians to treasure the full values of Nigeria’s culture and history, which clearly define our nation and people.”
id.The high point of the day’s event, which happened at the Banquet Hall of the Conference Centre, was the unveiling of ‘Discover Nigeria’, a pictorial book on Nigeria’s history, covering the period from Independence in 1960 to the present.

The 392-page book, authored by Bayo Omoboriowo, the president’s official photographer, showcases the country’s rich traditional institutions, ingenuity of its people, the beauty of its landscape, and the richness of its farmlands, stunning waterfalls and seas, among others.

The book, already, had been named a new winner in the Guinness Book of World Records’ as the world largest photo book.

The previous record for the largest photobook is 45sqm. The ‘‘Discover Nigeria’’ book has been printed and mounted as 60sqm giant frame book-60 images, 60 pages, 60 square meters, celebrating Nigeria at 60 (60:60:60:60).

Over 60 young Nigerians took part in the construction of the giant frame book mounted at the event’s venue, which was attended by government functionaries, traditional rulers, and members of the diplomatic corps, the business community and stakeholders in the creative industry.

In his address, President Buhari said, “Nigeria is undoubtedly a blessed nation with abundant human and natural resources underpinned by a very rich socio – cultural diversity, which needs to be positively harnessed to forge a greater Nigeria.”

He also raised the need “ He noted that “ He raised the need “for this diversity to translate into positive gains that would ensure an inclusive, equitable and sustainable growth requires that we Nigerians consistently embrace the ethics and values that unite us in spite of our diversity, appreciate our individual and collective role in nation – building and forging ahead as a people with a common vision as a strong and indivisible nation.”

The President said, “For me, this is the key message of today’s activities. Today’s event is anchored on the importance of our discovering our great nation together and not discovering it in our individual spaces, as we are wont to do. I am sure some of us have gone through the various stands at this venue and as we went through the Discover Nigeria pavilion, we must have been struck with not only the beauty but also the intensity of the common strands running through our culture.

“As we all march towards building the Nigeria of our dreams, government will continue to provide the enabling environment for citizens to achieve their dreams while we count on their support to make Nigeria a better place for all.”

He surmised, “I am, therefore, very excited to be unveiling the book “Discover Nigeria” because it broadly makes the case why we should always be positive about our country.”