By Kingsley Nwezeh
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clem Agba, has described cultural festivals of diverse socio-cultural groups in the country as major ingredients of national integration.
He said such festivals are also economic drivers through which the quest for diversification of the Nigerian economy could be attained.
The minister spoke at Iviukhua, Agendbode, Edo State as special guest of honour during the Au-Ukhua Cultural Festival which drew scores of Edo sons and daughters, particularly Iviukhua/Agenebode decendants from within the country and the diaspora.
“Culture is fundamental in nature. The potential of culture as a major ingredient in national integration cannot be overemphasised. It is also an economic driver in an era of renewed quest for the diversification of the Nigerian economy.
“In this wise, cultural festivals have the potential to stimulate economic growth and generate employment from the grassroots”, he said.
The minister said “the Au-Ukhua cultural festival aptly shows that every community in Nigeria has cultural products to showcase which have the capacity to ignite a cultural renaissance with corresponding economic impact.
“I therefore wholeheartedly endorse and recommend the festival to both local and international tourists”.
Agba said: “My brothers and sisters of Iviukhua community as they observe and celebrate the annual Au-Ukhua cultural festival”.
The minister Agba commended the focused leadership of the President-General of Ukhua Community Worldwide, SHC Kennedy Izuagbe and the other exco members for the sustenance of the festival which gained prominence since 2002.
“I do know that in putting this event together, the organisers engaged in very rigorous strategic thinking, networking, artistic creativity, flair for marketing in designing what is today being celebrated as a successful cultural carnival.
“Festivals and events, if carefully planned and executed, provide exciting avenues for communities and states to counteract economic crisis, especially the one occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic which is still ravaging the world,” he said.