By Osa Amadi
One of the cultural programs Nigerians can expect this year is a major exchange between the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) and the Kingdom of Belgium. The Belgian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Daniel Dorgent, while on a visit to the NCAC recently to solicit collaborations, stated the need for the two countries to come together and work on projects. Dorgent said the projects such as fashion exhibitions, music and dance, art and crafts, cultural festivals amongst others, will be of mutual benefits to both countries.
The Belgian ambassador said Nigeria is a country with great potentials. “We stand to benefit from some of these interesting potentials,” he said, revealing that the projects could also involve Nigerians and Africans in the diaspora.
Responding, Otunba Runsewe promised to provide the necessary logistics like venue, publicity and security to ensure a successful outing. The D.G also noted that Nigeria and Belgium have a long relationship in sports while sharing mutually beneficial economic ties with no less than 40 Belgium companies doing very well in Nigeria.
“As far back as 1984, over eleven Nigerian professional footballers plied their trade in the Belgian league. You will recall also that in the last Olympic, Nigeria and Belgium played the volleyball final,” the D.G narrated.
“As a body, we have collaborated with India, Korea, Iran, Bangladesh and China,” Runsewe continued. “So, for your exhibition, we will put in our best to ensure the program meets international standards.”
The meeting was concluded with the exchange of promotional materials between the two countries.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly has expressed commitment to help the National Council for Arts and Culture take full control of its permanent site in order to maximise the site for the benefit of Nigerians.
This position was made known by members of the House Committee on unspent funds in Abuja recently when they promised to look into the recent controversy surrounding the cultural village located near Sheraton Hotels in Abuja with a view to securing the premises for NCAC.
During the investigative hearing, the Director-General of NCAC, Otunba Segun Runsewe, stressed the need to ward off intruders to the Art and Crafts village so that the council can put the infrastructure in place to empower Nigerians.
The D.G reaffirmed that if the Art and Crafts Village facility belonging to NCAC is maximised, the site can boost Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for the country and generate billions of naira.
Runsewe said the site is worth N9.8 billion belongs to Nigerians and must not be used for personal gains by unscrupulous individuals.
Fielding questions from journalists after the session, Runsewe stressed the need to protect and defend the landed property of the council saying, “Nigerians must know that the land belongs to them and it’s not a personal thing. If that land was fully operational, it would have been giving some good IGR to the government.”
Runsewe commended the House Committee for a job well done, appreciating its commitment to improving financial expenditures of government agencies. “We are the implementors and the committee is there to help us do our jobs better. It is not witch-hunting but part of the fight against corruption, and the committee can correct so many things.