By Kabir Muhammad
President Muhammadu Buhari says that the Abuja Carnival has continued to provide a credible platform for national unity, peaceful co-existence and understanding of our ethnically and culturally diverse nation.
Buhari said this at the opening of the 2016 Abuja Carnival, with the theme; “The Creative Industry: A Pivot to Economic Growth” in Abuja on Saturday.
According to him, the present quest for authentic and home grown approach to national security, peace and harmony, as well as the lessons of cultural carnival cannot be ignored.
“The 11th edition of the Abuja Carnival is not just another theme, but a declaration of one of the cardinal principles that we have consciously identified to bail out our nation from the grim of economic challenges that we face today.
“The robust contribution of the creative sector, particularly the performing musicians and Nollywood extraction to the Nation’s GDP are not only heart-warming but phenomenal.’’
Buhari said the sector was fast transforming the Nation into a cultural capital of the Sub-Saharan Africa.
“In this era of search for non-oil alternative, creativity no doubt is key and this government will accord it the priority it deserves.
“This is in line with the UNESCO dictum, since wars began in the heart of men, it is the hearts of men that the defences of peace would begin’’.
The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello said that the Abuja Carnival, a multi-cultural event, started 11 years ago with the aim of preserving and promoting the rich cultural heritage of Nigeria to the International community.
According to him, the Abuja Carnival has in the last decade emerged as a very viable and practical means of building bridges across borders, tribes, religion and enhancing friendship.
Bello said that this year’s team demonstrated government’s determination to use the creative ingenuity of Nigerians to boost the nation’s economy at this period of economic downturn.
“It is worthy of note that the carnival also affords a broad platform where Nigerian goods and delicacies are displayed and marketed to visitors and participants alike.
“At the same time, providing an atmosphere for relaxation for the thousands of visitors from within and outside the country who are attending the carnival.
“For us in the FCT, the beautification of the carnival route for the staging of street events, the durbar, masquerade dance, boat regatta, food fairs.
“The cultural night and children fiesta from different cultural backgrounds, all add to the beauty and serenity of the city of Abuja and a confirmation of its status as the nation’s centre of unity,’’ he said.
Bello, who was represented by the FCT Permanent Secretary, Dr Babatope Ajakaiye, also expressed his gratitude to President Buhari for graciously granting approval for to hold the carnival.
“I also appreciate the support and goodwill of my brother the Minister of Information and Cuture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed for working tirelessly to ensure the successful hosting of this event.
“It is my hope that this important national event would be sustained in the years to come in order to consolidate on the gains of harnessing our cultural diversity as a tool for national, regional and of course, global integration,.
“Permit me to call on all participants to take time out of the carnival to visit some landmark sites of the Federal Capital Territory to avail themselves of their enormous potential for investments.
“As I welcome the participants and guests from the world and the 36 states to the Abuja Carnival, I urge all Abuja residents to be warm and hospitable to the visitors as a mark of honour and generosity which are hallmarks of the nation’s capital,’’ he said.
The Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said over the years, Nigeria had witnessed a thousand surge in the level of creativity even in the face of various challenges.
“The Abuja Carnival seeks to leverage on this creative potential of Nigeria positively by creating an enabling environment giving a diverse culture resulting in creativity to boost the Nigerian economy.
“Additionally, this annual fiesta has become an important platform to promote culture and tourism in Nigeria as well as a catalyst for achieving unity, peace and economic prosperity.
“This year’s carnival is indeed a celebration of life and an opportunity for actualising of commitment to promote Nigeria’s opulence culture,’’ he said.
Mohammed, represented by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mrs Ayotunde Adesugba, said the main objective of the carnival was to sensitise and mobilise the Nigeria creative sector and Nigerians in general to the opportunities that abound in the sector.