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Magnus Eze, Abuja
Former Abia State governor, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, has suggested that Nigeria can get rid of corruption if the people “go back to their cultural norms.”
The eminent business man also canvassed strengthening of national institutions strengthened, which would ensure good governance becomes a way of life, which could, in the end, eradicate corruption in Nigeria.
He also said the recent shock suffered by the economy, which manifested as recession, was because Nigeria relied on a mono-product; crude oil.
Kalu said these when he delivered the first edition of the National Institute of Cultural Orientation (NICO) quarterly public lecture for this year in Abuja, yesterday.
He described crude oil as a curse instead of blessing to the nation.
According to him, Nigeria’s cultural diversity is a potent driver of its economic enhancement, and explained that each of the over 250 ethnic groups in the country has one cultural product or another which, if properly harnessed, could transform the national economy.
In his lecture titled “Culture, economy and good governance: The Nigerian experience,” the former governor applauded the economic diversification programme of the present administration but called for adequate investment in culture and tourism.
He canvassed for strategic tapping of the nation’s rich cultural endowment, and pointing out that with the enabling environment afforded by the ease of doing business policy recently released by government, what was left was peace and security for cultural investors to thrive.
Kalu noted that government alone cannot drive the process and added that at his own end, he had initiated and promoted the annual Igbere Cultural Festival, in his community in Abia state.
Kalu said the last edition of the cultural festival attracted over 50,000 participants and visitors, who invariably enhanced the local economy.
“The differences in human living, language, fashion, architecture, food, dance, music etc are the essential make up of our cultural diversity. It means that as there are over 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria, there are over one billion economic opportunities.
“This is so because all ethnic groups in Nigeria are unique in their own ways; having different fashion sense, food, music, dance, masquerades, architecture etc. What this means is that we are living at a time when opportunities exist in economic emancipation of the different ethnic groups in Nigeria but, our proclivity to zero in on only white collar jobs leave us crying and suffering the effects of unemployment.
“We must begin to see economic opportunities inherent in our cultures. I do not just mouth it; I have been putting it into practice. At the beginning of every year, in my village in Igbere, I hold cultural ‘expo’ which brings together thousands of people. I also hold a youth conference at the same venue. I do that deliberately. Although the programmes gulp huge amount of money, I relish funding them.
“The two programmes are meant to send a strong message to our youth and society that we need to inculcate our culture in our socio-economic activities.”
Earlier, Acting Executive Secretary of NICO, Louis Eriomala, in a welcome address, said the country must make culture the bedrock of its development aspirations, and added that unless “our socio-economic and political lifestyles are regulated by our cherished cultural values, our dream of a better Nigeria would remain a mirage.”