Just like everywhere else in the world, there is a huge economic opportunity in the Nigerian arts and crafts sector that could be harnessed to create jobs and drive development. And in this report, Ebere Chibuzor writes on how participants at International Arts and Craft Expo (INAC) explored the hospitality and scenic splendor of Abuja at this year’s event.
For one week, exhibitors and entrepreneurs drawn from about 27 countries across four continents and some states in the federation, converged at the Abuja Pavilion and Exhibitions Centre for this year’s International Arts and Crafts, (INAC), organised by the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC). The expo, which has as its theme: ‘Networking Nigerian Crafts To The World,’ was a huge platform for networking. It was held from November 19 through 24.
The jam-packed event featured INAC Investment Forum, tour of the expo stands, special days for specific countries, interactive sessions, free medical screening as well as skills acquisition and waste to wealth training.
“Today, we are using culture to build peace in the world, we are using what is common to humanity, we are using our arts and crafts to bind ourselves together, to build the bridges that can unite all humanity, because no matter which country or continent we come from, we are all humans and we all have the image of God in us.”
That was the views of the minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, who chaired the closing ceremony of the expo.
Ogbonnaya expressed hopes that the annual event will continue to sustain the message of peace through culture, arts and crafts.
Speaking at the official opening ceremony of 11th edition of INAC expo, the director general of National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe said: “We at the National Council for Arts and Culture are of the conviction that there are vast opportunities in the arts and crafts sector that could be harnessed to create jobs, empower our people and drive the process of economic development. As one of the highest employer of labor in the world, the sector has the potential of combating urban-rural drift, youth restiveness and militancy, as well as enhancing the empowerment of the vast majority of unemployed Nigerians. One unique advantage of the industry is its capacity to accommodate the educated and the uneducated, the young and the old, the able bodied and the physically challenged alike.’’
He further informed that new components have been introduced to the exposition in order to make it richer and more responsive to need of the people. The components included are free medical screening, skills acquisition, and waste to wealth programme, among others.
‘‘In addition to the free eye screening we are conducting as part as of our medical service, we are also giving out 250 medicated eye glasses to those confirmed by our medical experts to have one visual challenge or the other.”
Desiring to make INAC Expo the world travel market of Africa, Runsewe urged the guests and participants to take advantage of the expo to enjoy the hospitality, warmth and scenic splendor of Abuja. The day was capped with declaration of Cultural Diplomacy Day for Peace, which would now be marked globally every November 24, by the NCAC boss.
Several countries, states and organisations went home with prizes for their performance in various categories at the INAC Expo. Overall best exhibitor of the year price went to Ogun State. Kano State came in second position while the third position went to Kaduna State. India and Bangladesh emerged countries with the best designed pavilions with two states in Nigeria-Kano and Ogun, along with an NGO, Le Look Nigeria limited.
Best product designs, leather works, went to Kano, Katsina and Jigawa. Textiles to Ogun and Kano, brass to Kano and Kaduna, metal works to Kano, woodworks to Ogun and Bauchi, calabash decoration to Gombe and Kano, and so on.
The overall best product design went to Kano, while best participating countries were China and Trinidad and Tobago. Best participating government agencies and corporate bodies went to Nigerian Social Insurance Trust fund, NTA and AIT.
INAC 2018 special award for special days went to China, India, Bangladesh and Ogun State. Best participating NGO went to Arolokaso Art and Crafts and Aanang Festival of Arts and Culture. Also, new invention award, waste to wealth went to Hungary while most innovative products packaging went to Iran, Korea and Syria. Most enterprising exhibitors were Mexico, Le Look and Tanzania.
Best country presentation went to Sudan and Burkina Faso, best country in e-marketing went to China and Pakistan while best networking strategy was awarded to Bangladesh and India.