Mohammed Seeks Governors’ Support for ‘Change Begins With Me’

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•Hails revival of centuries-old festival, promises to back event
Sunday Okobi
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has canvassed the support of State Governors for the success of the Federal Government’s National Re-orientation Campaign, “Change Begins With Me”, which was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on 8 Sept. 2016.

The Minister also hailed the revival of the centuries-old ‘’Ijakadi Festival’’ by the Offa Kingdom in Kwara State, assuring that the festival will be one of the beneficiaries of the training for festival managers being planned by the Ministry in collaboration with its partners.

Speaking while formally unveiling the campaign to the Governors’ Forum at a meeting in Abuja on Wednesday night, the Minister specifically requested the Governors to donate generous airtime on their states’ radio and television stations for airing the campaign’s jingles.

‘’We are of the strong belief that your cooperation is absolutely important if the campaign is to succeed, hence we have taken up this opportunity to formally unveil it to you and to seek your collaboration,’’ he said
Alhaji Mohammed informed the Governors that the campaign will soon be launched in their respective states as part of efforts to spread its message.

He said ‘’Change Begins With Me’’ is geared towards achieving an attitudinal change among Nigerians, adding that the campaign has no political, religious or ethnic coloration.

‘’The breakdown in our time-tested values, the preference for imported goods, the poor attitude to work, the mindless corruption in our society, the lack of respect for national symbols etc, are not limited to any part of the country, any political party or any religion. They affect us all,’’ the Minister added.

In their comments, the Governors welcomed the campaign and offered various suggestions to enhance its implementation, including the need to revive Civic Studies in schools and also to translate the campaign to all the indigenous languages in the country.

Meanwhile, the Minister has hailed the revival of the centuries-old ‘’Ijakadi Festival’’ by the Offa Kingdom in Kwara State, assuring that the festival will be one of the beneficiaries of the training for festival managers being planned by the Ministry in collaboration with its partners.

The Minister gave the assurance in Abuja on Wednesday when he received a delegation of the Offa Descendants Union (ODU), which came to formally invite him to the festival, scheduled for Offa 29 Dec. 2016, on behalf of the town’s monarch.

He said the decision to revive the traditional wrestling festival, which dates back to the 14th century, is in line with the ongoing efforts by the present administration to leverage on the creative industries in the diversification of the nation’s economy.

Alhaji Mohammed said the festival has the potential to attract domestic and international tourists to Offa, thus impacting positively on the economy of the town and the state.

‘’We will provide the enabling environment for the festival, as well as similar ones across the country, to achieve their full potentials,’’ the Minister said, adding that he was ‘’humbled and honoured’’ to receive the delegation that was led by ODU President, Alhaji Najeem Usman Yasin.
While accepting the invitation to attend the festival, he commended the ‘’resilience, honour, principle and industry’’ of the Offa people, saying the qualities are responsible for the uniqueness of the town.

Speaking earlier, the ODU President urged the federal government to support the festival to enable it achieve its full potential and boost culture and tourism in the community as well as the entire Kwara State.

‘’We want the Ijakadi Festival to be included in the list of festivals being promoted by the Ministry because of its rich cultural content,’’ said Alhaji Yasin, who noted that his delegation came to invite the Minister as a Special Guest of Honour.

While congratulating the Minister on the first anniversary of his assumption of office, the ODU President commended him for bringing to his new assignment the same passion with which he successfully carried out his responsibility as the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The Ijakadi Festival, which was revived in 2012 after a three-decades lull, reinforces a tradition that encourages strength and determination, in addition to addressing the notion of equality among the indigenes of Offa.

Also on the ODU delegation were the 1st Vice President of ODU, Alhaji Bashir Adetokun Adepoju; the ODU Treasurer, Mrs. Mulikat Aliyu, and the ODU Secretary-General, Chief (Mrs) Wasilat Tinuke Macarthy.