By Ewache Ajefu
The Minister of State for Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, said Wednesday that the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) had put in place measures to make Abuja the preferred tourism destination in the country.
The minister disclosed this in London while declaring open the international photography exhibition of the Abuja Carnival organised by the Administration at the famous Tiwani Contemporary.
Akinjide, who was represented by her Special Assistant on Art and Culture, Mr. Adeniyi Olagunju, said the exhibition was designed to make the annual Abuja carnival the choice event for nationals and international tourists.
She noted that the photography exhibition was aimed at boosting tourism, enhancing national prestige, increasing participation, improving carnival packaging and optimizing commercial opportunities offered by the carnival.
“The photography exhibition is put together to project the Abuja Carnival. The carnival is being taken beyond the shores of Nigeria to stimulate much needed national and international popularity and also to optimize the commercial opportunities such an event could offer.
“Besides staging the photography exhibition in London, we will also be holding similar Abuja carnival exhibition in New York and Dallas in United States, Hong Kong and Shanghai in China, and Abuja, Lagos, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers and Kaduna in Nigeria.
“This initiative is sending a clear message about the FCTA’s commitment to economic development through tourism. The Abuja carnival, through art and culture, is becoming a major driver for growth in the Federal Capital City and the Area Councils,” she said.
Over 50 classical shots from various events of the Abuja carnival were adapted into framed pictures, brochures and e-photo book format both to showcase the beauty of the country’s diverse cultural heritage and also tell the story of the Nigerian people.
The artworks on display were Nupe Boat Regatta from Niger State, Kano, Kebbi and Bayelsa Boat Regatta on Jabi Lake, Oyo and Ogun Masquerades, Niger State Durban, Yobe Durban, cultural dancers from Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers, Nasarawa States and South West, and masquerades from Cross River, Edo and Nasarawa, among several others.
Among the dignitaries that witnessed the opening of the international photography exhibition of the Abuja Carnival were: Nigeria’s Deputy High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Ambassador Oluwatoyin Lawal; Prof. Brian Catling of the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, University of Oxford; a Member of the World Leisure Board of Directors and Director, Master of Social Science Programme in the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Dr. Lawal Marafa; Special Assistant to the Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Kelechi Ekugo; Managing Partner of Ezana Capital, an investment firm in the United Kingdom, Mr. Abraham Soquar; and Business Analyst, Marketing and Institutional Banking Division of Royal Bank of Scotland, Mr. Faud Animashaun.
Ambassador Lawal lauded the FCTA for staging the international photography exhibition of the Abuja Carnival in London.
He stated that the annual Abuja Carnival had demonstrated the nation’s unity in diversity as States of the Federation display their unique heritage through a festival platform, thereby building bridges and enhancing inter-cultural and cross-ethnic friendships.
Prof. Catling expressed his excitement over the photographs of the Abuja Carnival on display and assured that he would be in the country to witness this year’s carnival.
The Abuja National Carnival, a platform to showcase the rich cultural heritage and tourism potentials of Nigeria to the world, was first celebrated in 2005. The carnival was specially setup to be an intra and inter-cultural link which would serve as a foundation of knowledge and reference point for the promotion of the historical and cultural experience of the black people worldwide.