By Osa Amadi, Arts Editor
From 13 to 15 October 2021, Nigerians and the international community revelled in the opulence of arts, crafts and culture offered at the International Arts & Crafts Expo, INAC, hosted annually in Abuja by the National Council for Arts & Culture.
The 14th edition of the Expo, a drive-in exhibition titled “Networking Nigerian Crafts to the World” held in an open field at the Sheraton Hotels and Towers, Abuja, just like the 13th Edition, was specially designed to outwit the COVID-19 pandemic which has for two consecutive years now, hindered and paralyzed almost all activities involving large gatherings of humans.
INAC and its sister annual event, NAFEST, are perhaps the only national events and products still serving as rallying points for Nigerians and Nigeria – a country badly battered by insecurity.
The 3-day event which attracted representatives of many countries such as Argentina, Bangladesh, Cuba, Spain, Venezuela, India, China, and other countries, also featured scintillating popular and traditional music performances by Ejiro and Friends, Emma Sax, Ogun Cultural Troupe, Afri Theatre and cultural music and dances from other states.
Ruben Abati on “diversification of Nigeria’s economy beyond oil”
One of the high points of the 3-day INAC was the investment forum in which Dr Ruben Abati was the keynote speaker. Dr Abati began by saying that “the diversification of the Nigerian economy is one of those subjects long talked about, long in coming in terms of realization – a perennial target of many talk sessions, and yet, not much has been done about this proverbial magic wand that is supposed to help reset the Nigerian economy and provide a stronger footing for economic growth and development.”
Dr. Abati then raised a number of questions: Why has the discovery of oil in Olobiri in 1956 failed Nigeria? Why is Nigeria trapped in the equivalence of the Venezuela-like oil curse? Why has oil brought Nigeria more misery than joy? And where does the creative industry fit into all that? Can the creative economy save Nigeria, humanize Nigeria, or serve as a catalyst for further possibilities that can advance the goals of sustainable human development and economic prosperity?
Before the investment forum segment began, the audience was treated to a documentary showcasing the beauty of the tourism destinations of Venezuela. Drawing a parallel between Nigeria and Venezuela’s tragic conditions, Dr Abati submitted that Nigeria is like Venezuela with fantastic destinations, but unfortunately, wrong politics and bad security situations in both countries hardly encourage visitors to visit the two countries. Security, Dr. Abati said, is a hindrance to Nigeria’s tourism potentials.
Dr Abati also submitted that given the successes of the Nigerian creative industry at the international level, especially Nollywood, the Nigerian popular music and creative writing which produced the Soyinka’s, the Achebes and the Chimamandas, Nigeria needs to invest more in this sector.
2021 INAC: Ogun State emerges overall winner
In addition to carting away most of the prizes at the 2021 edition of INAC, Ogun State emerged as the overall winner. Katsina State came 2nd. Lagos took the 3rd position, while the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Bayelsa came 4th and 5th respectively.
Jigawa and Zamfara states won the 2nd position for Product Design in leather, while Katsina State took the 1st position in that category. Jigawa also came first in General Embroidery (Textile) while Zamfara came first in cap making.
Ondo won the 1st prize in Metal Works as well as in Painting, while Bayelsa came 2nd in the category. The 1st prize in pottery went to FCT. Kaduna State took 1st in Ceramics, while Lagos State came 1st as the Most Innovative Product Packager. Ogun and Kebbi states emerged 1st and 2nd respectively as the Best Exhibitor in E-Marketing.
The Best Exhibitor in Networking Strategy was Katsina State.
In all, 13 states of the country and FCT participated in the 2021 International Arts & Craft Expo which overpowered the COVID-19 pandemic through the innovative ideas of the indefatigable Otunba Segun Runsewe, the Director-General of the National Council for Arts & Culture.