By Joseph Erunke, ABUJA

THE Governing Board of the Nigerian National Merit Award, NNMA, has said it was committed to generating needed ideas as its contribution to the efforts to enhance sustainable growth and development of the country.

The Governing Board of NNMA spoke through the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Sen. George Akume, at the 2022 Award Winner’s Lecturer,held at the Main Campus of the University of Abuja, Wednesday evening.

Recall that the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award is an academic award conferred on distinguished academicians and intellectuals who have made outstanding contributions to the academic, growth and development of Nigeria.

The event was held with a theme:”Informal Art Education Through Workshops: Lessons from the Harmattan Workshops”, delivered by Bruce Onobrakpeya, a Nigerian printmaker, painter and sculptor,who is one of the awardees.

Akume, who explained that “The award is designed towards excellence among Nigerians”, added:” Today’s lecture is aimed at providing first-hand insights into the issues that the laureates of the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) consider crucial to national development.”

“I am delighted to say that all the beneficiaries of this prestigious and revered award have not only gained recognition nationally but also internationally.

” This spectacular performance is not gained overnight but after long periods of hard work, advocacy and continuous contributions to place Nigeria on an international pedestal as a source of elite talents.

“Today, I urge us to recommit ourselves to recognize the contributions of the Nigerian National Merit Award and its Laureates to the overall socioeconomic, socio-political and scientific/technological development of our country.

“In so doing, we shall reaffirm the commitment of the Governing Board towards generating the needed ideas as our contribution to the effort to enhance a sustainable growth and development of the nation,” he said.

Noting that: “The focus of this lecture is on, “Informal Art Education: Lessons from the Harmattan Workshop”, the minister said:”Art can be confusing for some because it is a vague word which encompasses a wide variety of practices which involves expressing one’s self in different ways such as music, theatre, sculpture but the focus here is fine art which is especially visual art whose products are to be appreciated aesthetically or for their intellectual content or both. “

An exhibition was held after the programme. The exhibitions provided scenes that depict social harmony and appreciation of diversity and portrayed how art improves peace and unity.

In his lecturer, Bruce Onobrakpeya, explained that “Art education via informal art workshops is important in the sustainable development of the arts as a viable socio-economic subsector in the country.”

“Informal workshops touch the grassroots, develop the environment, culture and above all,the economic wellbeing and opportunities for self-employment at the periphery of the society. They create meeting points for people of diverse sociocultural backgrounds where ideas, specialist knowledge and a wealth of unique experiences are exchanged in convivial, peaceful,non+competitive atmospheres,” he said.

“Permit me to define Informal Art Education as a training that occurs in a relaxed, free atmosphere of instructor-student interaction with no syllabi, permanent structures, or teaching faculty as obtainable in the traditional, stiff setup associated with formal Art Schools and Academies,”he said.

The vice chancellor of the University of Abuja, Prof. Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah, in his remarks, urged youths to make maximum use of their skills to be self-employed and not to allow themselves to be used for social vices in society.

He explained that “The primary responsibility of NNMA is to identify and assess candidates for their merits based on their outstanding contributions to national development in the areas of Science, Medicine, Engineering, including Arts and Culture.”

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