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Rivers’ Rex Lawson cultural centre to promote tourism, culture — Stakeholder

By Ann Godwin (Port Harcourt)
08 July 2018   |   4:11 am
Cultural centres and their activities are essential to accelerating the development of cities and countries. Usually, a cultural centre promotes culture, arts and tourism.

Cultural centres and their activities are essential to accelerating the development of cities and countries. Usually, a cultural centre promotes culture, arts and tourism.

The identity of a people is pronounced by their culture and tradition, which distinguish them from other tribes and races.

Activities to be found in some cultural centres include, music, theatre, dancing, artistic entertainment, cultural events, and folk play or music, among others. All these constitute a part of leisure, making it more meaningful and interesting to citizens.

Artists, musicians, philosophers, scientists, architects and writers, among others, tend to gravitate towards some cities of the world, because of their cultural heritage, cultural centres and activities going on there.

Needless to say this has contributed in no small measure to their vibrant economy and cultural influence.

Apparently, it was this fact that must have spurred the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, to build a modern cultural centre, which has been adjudged the best in Africa.

According to Wike, the project, which was inaugurated by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, few weeks ago, is for the promotion of culture, arts and tradition.

And for good reasons, the governor renamed the cultural edifice after a legendary musician, Rex Lawson.

During the inauguration, Wike explained that the new name was to immortalise the iconic musician, whose music promoted Rivers State and brought joy to the people.

He said his administration decided to complete the neglected project because of its importance to the state.

He said: “We did not re-award the contract. We negotiated with the contractor that abandoned the job, paid him and ensured that this superlative edifice is delivered.

“There will be urban renewal around this neighbourhood, where the centre is located. We have reconstructed Creek Road and we will develop other facilities to beautify this area.”

He said the state government would lease out the facility to private management for it to be properly sustained.

One of the dignitaries at the event was Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi, who commended Governor Wike for the magnificent Rex Lawson Cultural Centre.

He said his administration would replicate the feat in Abakiliki.

While commissioning the project, the Ooni of Ife, also lauded Governor Wike for promoting culture, tourism and tradition through the centre.

He urged Wike to continue working for the masses, as this has made him very close to them.

The Rivers State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mrs. Tonye Oniyide said the centre boasts of state-of-the-art facilities.

Governor Wike and his Ebonyi State counterpart, together with the Ooni of Ife and some selected guests watched cultural dances, comedy and music performance at the centre.

In a similar development, Governor Wike constructed a modern facility for royal fathers in the state to further strengthen traditional institution and bring dignity to the traditional institution.

Wike explained that it would have been a contrast to have a contemporary cultural centre with a deplorable traditional council Secretariat behind it.

“Every tourist that comes into the state would naturally want to behold the two facilities,” he said.

The Guardian gathered that upon assumption of office, the governor had attended the quarterly meetings of the State Council of Traditional Rulers at the old, dilapidated secretariat.

According to His special Assistant on electronic media, Simeon Nwakaudu, the governor was unhappy with the environment where the royal fathers held their meetings. So, rather than renovate the decayed old secretariat, Wike offered to build a new one with modern facilities.

He reasoned that the royal fathers needed a conducive environment to generate ideas, since they play a vital role in nation building.

During the state’s Golden Jubilee on May 3, 2017, Governor Wike invited the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa-ad Abubakar to lay the foundation for the ultra-modern secretariat for the royal fathers.

Performing the groundbreaking in Port Harcourt, Sultan Abubakar described the event as historic, pointing out that the edifice would help traditional rulers perform their duties to the Rivers people with ease.

And while the construction was going on, all the royal fathers’ meetings were held at the Government House in Port Harcourt.

Barely, a year after, Alhaji Sa-ad Abubakar and other prominent traditional rulers were again in the Rivers State to inaugurate the modern Traditional Rulers complex.

The ultra-modern facility has a conference hall that can sit over 400 traditional rulers. There is also a smaller 200-capacity hall within the complex for other meetings.

The facility also displays a library, art gallery, lodge and expansive car park. It is fitted with modern communication gadgets like the Internet and others. There is an elevator to facilitate ease of movement.

The Sultan lauded Wike for keeping his word and delivering a befitting secretariat to the royal fathers.

Saying it would boost tourism, as well as promote culture and arts in the state, the royal fathers and some residents, while speaking on the two projects, expressed joy and satisfaction.

Chairman of Rivers Council of Traditional Rulers and the Amanyanabo of Opobo Kingdom, King Dandeson Douglas Jaja, said, the edifice would open new opportunities to provide more cultural services.

“The befitting centre would enable traditional rulers share ideas and contribute to the state’s development,” he said.

On his part, His Imperial Majesty, Eze Ekpeye Logo, Robinson. O. Robinson said Rivers State is known as a state of culture, so the facilities would promote the state’s culture.

He said: “The new cultural centre would enhance cultural activities, attract visitors and boost tourism. It would also boost the state’s economy. There are many cities and countries like Israel, whose economies are dependent on tourism. So, this gesture will bring foreign currency because a lot of foreigners like tourism.”

The Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ikunyi Awaji-Ibani, told The Guardian that the centres would enhance tourism, attract investment and profit to the state and its people.

He described it as an integrated development, which to him is qualitative and not quantitative.

For His Royal Highness, Nyeweli of Elelenwo community, Eze Sunny Weli Chukwu, the cultural centre will preserve the cultural heritage and add value to the state’s economy, while the Traditional Rulers’ complex would bring respect and dignity to the royal fathers.

He said: “Before now, we used to look at the way traditional rulers in the Northern and Western regions are treated with respect and dignity, and compared to how traditional rulers in the Niger Delta region are treated and we felt some reservation.

“So we longed for a day when all traditional rulers from every part of the country will be treated equally, since we are one Nigeria. I believe this edifice will bring respect to royal fathers in the Niger Delta. I urge the royal fathers to maintain and uphold what the governor has done and desist from politics.”

The Onu Egburu Emuoha 1, Eze Gabriel Enyi, said the traditional institution is a unique one. He lauded Wike for according honour to the royal fathers, adding that the cultural centre would serve as a research centre.

And to the Paramount ruler of Otari community in Abua/Odua Local Government Area of the State, Ipalibo Obuge, the edifice would bring unity among royal fathers, as well as help in the search for ways to fight cultism in the state.

Similarly, the Paramount ruler of Nyowii in Khana Local Government Area of the state, HRM, Mene Nusiday and Chief God Nte-Eneree said the cultural centre would revamp the people’s culture, help to maintain peace and enhance the people’s living standard

An elated Governor Wike explained that his administration has purposely worked closely with traditional rulers to build peace, which has led to the state’s development.

“I will always give priority to the welfare of traditional rulers, as they are key to the country’s stability.”