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ONLY CULTURE CAN BUILD PEACE, UNITY -OGBUEFI RAY IFEME

By NBF News
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•Gen. Gowon (centre) and Maidugu presenting award to Judith Yahaya

For having revived its yearly Honours Lecture/Awards after about two years, management of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) has been commended by culture workers and practitioners. Among those who extolled the parastatal is Ogbuefi Akwudoleze Ray Ifeme, the Odogwo Abu Na Ezenifite, who hinted that the choice of former Head of State, Gen Yakubu Gowon for this year's NCAC award was indeed a wise one.

Ifeme who graced the 8th edition of the ceremony last December in Abuja urged other parastatals and agencies in the sector to emulate the council, noting that a decision to recognise excellence and hard work through such awards would further boost performance and increase pruductivity in cullture. According to Ifeme, the NCAC which is currently under the leadership of Mr Mwajim M Maidugu has shown a good example by raising sponsors for the yearly award/lecture which had the theme Culture as a Tool for Peace Building and National Integration.

Ifeme also noted how the event was graced by credible and widely respected Nigerians such as Gen Gowon, Governor Akwei Doma of Nasarawa State, Prof Jerry Gana (Chairman of the occasion), Professor Yakubu Nasidi (Guest lecturer) and Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation who was represented by Alhaji Ibrahim Mahe. He described this as a major achievement and attributed this to NCAC's recognition of culture as a major contributor to national development.

While acknowledging the council's feat in awarding older Nigerians, Ogbuefi Ifeme equally commended the council for promoting creativity among the youth. He noted specifically the emergence of 12-year old Judith Yahaya, a JSS 2 student of Our Lady of Fatima High School, Sabo, Kaduna as overall winner of the competition as an inspiration to students who are talented in the creative arts.

Said Ifeme'' I learnt a lot during the awards and lecture ceremony in Abuja. Apart from the awards, the introduction of the Nigerian Olympiad for youths was highly encouraging.This obviously would serve as an impetus for people like us to promote arts and culture in the year 2011. In fact we are planning to organise the Agugu Umuagbo and Nnoko Ndieze-Nna Ozo Festival later in the year. Although the festival would hold in Anambra State, we expect all men and women of culture such as Ambassador Segun Olusola, Governor Akwei Doma, Chief Sony Odogwu, Governor Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State and many more to grace it.''

Explaining further, Ifeme reasoned that the forth coming festival aims at reviving Igbo culture and tradition in all the South Eastern states, including Enugu, Imo,Anambra, Ebonyi, Abia and Delta. His words ''During the festival, we hope to mark the 30th anniversary of the Nze Na Ozo and to showcase all those who have attained that title that money cannot buy in Igboland. It is a pity that Christianity has eroded our native norms and ways of life. Many of our people now erfer to our culture as being fetish.

They have forgotten that a people without culture would have no identity and what they can call their own. We have decided to showcase Igbo Culture and deities and highlight their relevance and place in national development.'