The Executive Secretary of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Mr Mohammed Yahuza, says no nation can achieve meaningful development where its culture is not accorded priority attention in its development agenda.
Yahuza said this during a two-day Conference on Culture, Zonal Intervention Projects (ZIP) and National Development in Enugu on Monday.
He noted that it was imperative for Nigerians to have a profound understanding of the place of culture as the bedrock and roadmap to national development.
According to him, therefore, it is imperative in our quest for meaningful progress and sustainable socio-political and economic development of our nation to uphold and cherish our culture and priceless heritage.
“It is in this regard that the introduction of Zonal Intervention Fund (ZIP), a product of Executive-Legislative synergy and consensus received national commendation when it was initiated because it satisfies the yearnings and aspirations of the people.
“The ZIP is a well-thought out development mechanism designed to foster equitable distribution of economic, political and socio-cultural development projects in the constituencies of lawmakers by various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.
“It is gratifying to state that through ZIP projects many communities that were hitherto neglected have benefitted from this commendable strategy,’’ he said.
The executive secretary commended the Federal Government and the National Assembly for initiating and sustaining the fund over the years; while he appreciated the resource persons and participants at the conference.
In a goodwill message, Igwe Umeayo Okongwu, Traditional Ruler of Agba-Umana community in Ezeagu council area, said that culture remained that uniqueness that differentiates a people from another.
“It is also one unique identity that brings people together and creates that oneness and bond of unity. If I travel overseas and eventually see someone that speaks my native language, we automatically become brothers.
“We will do good if we impress it on our children to speak, read and write in our indigenous languages as well as participate actively in our cultural festivities,’’ he said.
In an address, Mr Ugonna Ibe, Enugu State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, said that the conference would reawaken the consciousness of people of Enugu and by extension the South-East on culture.
Ibe, who was the chairman of the occasion, noted that Nigerian culture is unique in terms of festivals, marriage and burial rites, observers such as new yam ceremonies etc.
“It is a thing we should be proud of and promote anywhere we go as well as teaching everyone around us about them and how to observe them.
“There is a need for the government, wealthy corporate bodies and individuals to invest in the promotion of the nation’s rich culture by making them tourists’ attraction.
“By making our culture a tourists’ attraction; we will boost our socio-economy, foreign currency earnings and boost our foreign reserve as well,’’ he said.