Stakeholders in the field of arts have called for unity among the different ethnic groups in Nigeria, noting that it is the surest path to the nation’s sustainable development.
They made the call recently during a two-day national conference and arts exhibition organized by the Departments of Fine and Applied Arts, Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria held at the Needs Assessment Building, AE-FUNAI.
The conference themed “Conceptions, Cultural Diversity and Ethnicity” which was organized in collaboration with the National Gallery of Arts, Enugu, brought together scholars and practitioners in the field of arts across the country, to deliberate on how to instil unity in the Nigerian society in spite of the obvious diversities, as seen in our ethnic, cultural and religious differences.
While delivering the keynote address of the conference, Prof. Clifford Nwanna affirmed that Cultural diversity and Ethnicity exist in the mind, and appealed to Nigerians to employ the two concepts in emphasizing and promoting unity in the country and not the opposite.
He equally advised the citizenry to showcase those things that unite the nation and not things that divide it, stressing that the ingredients for national unity include good governance, transparency and rule to rule, and thereby advocated for every part of the country to be given a sense of belonging.
He further enjoined the nation’s leaders to eschew marginalization, oppression, religious bigotry, injustice and segregation amongst others and embrace the best global practices in governance.
Welcoming the participants to the event, the Chairman of the occasion,Dr. Henry Aloh, expressed his delight that the department of Fine and Applied Arts of the University has grown so big to have organised a conference of such nature, adding that AE-FUNAI has also proven to be the fastest growing institution in Nigeria.
Dr. Alo who is the Director, Health Services of the University and a lover of arts noted that in Nigeria, people seems to erroneously believe that the nation’s weakness is due to her cultural, ethnic and religious diversities, stressing that it is high time Nigerians started exploring how to make the nation’s cultural diversity become an advantage in all spheres of our national life rather than seeing it as an albatross.
He adduced that the conference was apt because it focused on a very important aspect of our national life, noting that the country can no longer pretend that all is well, while urging the citizenry to eschew ethnic bias and work together to make the country great by accepting that God created us to be different from one another.
He said, ‘’diversity is what we should use as an advantage and not disadvantage’’.
While declaring the conference open, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sunday Elom who was represented by the Dean, Faculty of Physical Sciences, Prof. Omaka N. Omaka, noted that the theme of the conference ‘’Conceptions, Cultural Diversity and Ethnicity’’ captures the thinking of the University, as people from different ethnic nationalities are represented as both staff and student in the institution.
‘’We are very proud of that and we are moving to harness our commitment to ensure that in AE-FUNAI, we have staff and students from different parts of the country and beyond”.
He added that the University is interested in improving the capacity of the department of Fine and Applied Arts to be result-oriented and relevance which resulted to it being moved from the Faculty of Humanities to Environmental Sciences.
‘’We are growing and we are doing things in numerous ways to better the department of Fine and Applied Arts’’ he said, as he urged the staff and students of the faculty not to be focused on delivering the mandates of the department in particular and the University in general.
Earlier is in his opening remarks, the Head, Department of Fine and Applied Arts, AE-FUNAI, Dr. Ephraim Ugochukwu, noted that the department will continue to show seriousness in all its academic activities, adding that the academic standard already established in the University will be maintained even as efforts are on top-gear to ensure that the Fine and Applied Arts programme meets global best practices.
He further thanked the Management and staff of the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria for collaborating with his department in making the conference a reality.
Other notable academics in the field of Arts that graced the event include, Prof. Ken Okoli, Prof. Gills Gambo Dunniya, Dr. Sylvester Dangoje and many others.