Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, has said Nigeria will expand its joint commissions with the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries to include a cultural framework.
This, he said, will enable Nigeria maximize her cultural exchange potentials with the region.
Onyeama made this known at the commemoration of the 51stAnniversary of the ASEAN, which also kicked off the 3rd ASEAN Film Festival in Abuja.
Onyeama who responded to questions on why there has been lesser cultural relations between both entities despite efforts by the festival to engage Nigeria’s film industry in the past, said the inclusion of cultural industries in Nigeria’s upcoming joint commission meetings with Philippines on August 15, and Malaysia, will boost cultural engagement between both parties.
“I think we can expand our existing joint commissions; what we need is to add representatives of the cultural industries to also take part, that will probably be the building block for greater cultural engagement,” said Onyeama.
The foreign minister further said Nigeria has a lot to learn from the region which international financial institutes as IMF and World Bank, have projected to become the fourth largest economies in the world by 2050.
High Commissioner of Malaysia, Her Excellency Gloria Tiwet said the region’s economy is set to increase quickly since maintaining a 5.2 per cent growth for the past five years.
Beyond increasing ASEAN economic relations with Nigeria, Philippines Ambassador to Nigeria, Shirley Ho-Vicario, said the country is willing to share secret to its economy’s sustained growth amidst inflation with Nigeria, as well as its agrarian technology in the area of rice production.
Vicario revealed the country raised over $33 billion from the 10 million Philippines living abroad.
More potentials, she said also lies for knowledge and capacity building exchange in agriculture with Nigeria.
“We can share our technology for planting rice in commercial quantities, because the International Rice Research Institute is in the Philippine. We can share that knowledge with Nigeria. We can grow rice anywhere, on top of oil, as we have seen in Brunei, on salt water, as practiced in Vietnam, the Philippine and Thailand.”
“Nigeria is rich in pineapple, of which we use its fiber in making our national clothes, a sustainable practice that is over 200 years old; while we use the fruit’s skin in the production of vinegar, soap and lotion,” Vicario added.
ASEAN was established in August 1967, by five founding members, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippine, Singapore and Thailand, to reduce regional hostilities and fight communist-led insurgencies in the region.
Today, with additional five-member nations, the association has transformed south-east Asia into a region known for its resilient economic growth and sustainable development.