SPEECH BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, AT THE NIGERIAN AGIP OIL COMPANY JV HOST COMMUNITY DAY 2019 IN PORT HARCOURT, RIVERS STATE, ON THURSDAY, 24 OCT. 2019
Permit me to thank the management of the Nigerian AGIP Oil Company for inviting me to the NAOC JV Host Community Day 2019, the maiden edition of which is being held today. I am indeed delighted to be here, as I will explain shortly.
2. Yesterday in Abuja, a German Journalist who is visiting Nigeria asked me what my vision of the nation’s Culture Sector is. I told him that my vision is to see a cultural renaissance in the country because of its ability to restore our moral values, which can in turn help in solving many of the problems we, as a nation, face today, whether it is in the area of insecurity, job creation or loss of moral values. It is in furtherance of this that I have always made sure to attend as many festivals and other cultural events as possible, across the country, to give them more visibility and to encourage the organizers.
3. And that explains why I had to rejig my schedule to be able to attend this maiden edition of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company JV Host Community Day 2019, even though I received the invitation very late. Let me therefore congratulate the Nigerian Agip Oil Company and its Joint Venture partners for coming up with the idea of the Host Community Day, which is a day set aside to celebrate the people of the company’s host communities in the four states where it has been operating for 57 years – Bayelsa, Delta, Imo and River States – and showcase their rich cultural heritage.
4. Giving the people of the host communities the opportunity to showcase their cultural heritage is a sure way to reconnect them to their roots, and this in turn helps to restore their moral values and self worth – a sure recipe for avoiding anti-social activities and criminal tendencies.
5 In this maiden edition, the focus is on cultural dance. Winners at the preliminary stages in the four states are here today for the grand finale. By hosting this event, the company is encouraging its host Communities to harness and take advantage of this opportunity with huge potentials for job creation/employment for their teeming youths. I have no doubt that this event will stimulate cultural activities on a commercial scale and assist in curbing youth restiveness, pipeline vandalism, oil bunkering and other vices associated with the Oil & Gas Industry in this region. It is also hoped that the event will strengthen inter-community relationship as well as Company-Community relationship.
6. I am informed that the company is already engaged in a number of community development activities in the agricultural sector through its Green River Project initiative, where over 38,000 farmers in the four states have been empowered within the last 33 years. I am further informed that the company, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibilities, has continued to provide various Socio-Economic Developmental projects such as roads, water, cottage hospitals, electricity and human capacity development programmes i.e, scholarships and bursaries and agro skills trainings, just to mention a few, in its operational communities. This is impressive and laudable, considering that the company has over 300 communities that
host its pipelines, Flow lines, Flow Stations, Gas Plants, Power Plant and other facilities, and the fact that the communities have over the years provided the enabling environment for the company to carry out its business.
7. Let me say that the decision by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company and its Joint Venture partners to hold this Host Community Day, with the theme ‘Promoting Our Cultural Heritage’, could not have come at a better time. This is because the Federal Government is also tapping into the huge potentials in the Tourism and Culture Sector not just to promote the nation’s cultural heritage, but to diversify the economy, thus earning more revenue and creating more jobs.
8. That is why the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, where I work, has unveiled a very rich agenda for the sector in the next four years. We are working to set the necessary legal framework for the sector by concluding and launching the National Policy on Culture as well as the National Policy on Tourism; finalize work on the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON) Bill in order to create a proper regulatory environment for the sub-sector that has put Nigeria’s name on the global map; establish the Endowment Fund for The Arts to create a legal framework for the financing of the sector and make the National Summit for Culture and Tourism – which we first held in April 2016 – a yearly affair, starting from the first quarter of 2020.
9. We are also working to hold a National Council on Culture and Tourism in May next year; organize a Regional Summit on Culture and Tourism, starting next year; continue with our visits to tourist sites and attend as many festivals as possible across the country; finalize work on and launch our National Festival Calendar this year to attract more tourists, domestic and foreign, to these events and get more sites in Nigeria inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We loom forward to working with many of our partners, including the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, in realizing these objectives.
10. Once again, I commend and congratulate the Nigerian Agip Oil Company and its Joint Venture partners for putting culture at the centre of this maiden edition of the Host Community Day 2019. I want to encourage the company not to relent in its efforts to use culture to foster peace, create jobs and strengthen inter-community and Company-Community relationship. And for today’s cultural dance performances, may the best dancers win
11. I thank you for your kind attention