The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Sunday hailed the church for efforts in enhancing national cohesion for Nigeria’s growth and development.
The minister, who was represented by Mr Sunday Baba, the General Manager, National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, made the commendation at the 2019 Cultural Fiesta of the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Ifako, Agege, Lagos.
The fiesta had the theme: ”Cultural Dance, Our Heritage for National Cohesion”.
Mohammed said that he was delighted any time culture and tradition matters arose because they had the power to unite.
“The church has done so well. In the past, people were discriminating, classifying culture differently from religion.
“From what we have seen in the Catholic Church today, it is bringing religion and culture together,” the minister said.
He expressed satisfaction that most ethnic groups and cultures in Nigeria were represented at the fiesta.
“There is no better harmony than this,” he said.
Mohammed said that the nation’s growth and development largely depended on national integration and cohesion, which everybody must work to achieve.
According to him, people should work for national unity by engaging only in things capable of bringing people together.
He said that people should use culture to bring out the best for the nation.
“From what I have seen so far here, Nigeria is moving from level to level because of our culture.
“People are coming out to showcase what they have to cook, what they have to wear and how they dance; that is the essence of our culture.
“That is why we are here today, we are happy,” he said.
Rev. Fr. Joachim Ochibili, the Parish Priest, said that there would not be progress and development without unity and peace.
Ochibili said that the annual cultural fiesta was to demonstrate the need for unity in order to achieve progress.
“We use this to bring our people together in unity and oneness. We use dancing as a mean of bringing our people together and make them to remember that we are all one,” the cleric said.
The reverend father noted that Nigeria had been united in spite of challenges.
He added: “We must respect our culture, we must respect our oneness. Nigeria will remain one, and in that, we will have progress.”
In his remarks, Mr Samuel Dennis, the Chairman of the cultural festival organising committee, said that the festival presented a golden opportunity for couples to have their marriage vows renewed in the church.
“Cultural dance, especially in our dear country, Nigeria, is our common heritage for national cohesion.
“Culture, as a way of life of a people, is a strong instrument for national integration, bonding them in national undertakings.
“Dance impacts us as a people in various way especially in collective coexistence, unification, sensitisation and public advocacy, entertainment, communication, education and knowledge and participatory democracy.
“The festival avails us all the opportunity to dance the dance of David, the dance of oneness and cohesion and the dance that proclaims Christ as the King of the world,” Dennis said.
It was reported that various cultural dances, attires and foods across states of the federation, represented in the parish, were displayed by different groups at the event.
The parish also honoured the minister with an award of Ambassador of Culture.