Information reaching us has it that Heritage Bank Plc will continue to work closely with the Rivers State Government towards making arts and culture a unifying factor and major earner to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria. Ifie Sekibo, Managing Director/CEO of Heritage Bank, pledged this during the 2018 National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) at Sharks Stadium, Port Harcourt, Rivers Sate. The attracted 22 states across the country. It has as its theme, “Nigeria: Our Festivals, Our Heritage.”
Sekibo said Heritage Bank’s partnership with the state was informed by the understanding of the importance of Arts and culture as consistent sources of economic growth, during both good and difficult economic times. According to him, “The art and culture industry has become one of the major contributors to so many countries’ gross domestic products and Heritage Bank is committed to supporting it because it is part of Nigeria’s heritage.”
The Heritage Bank boss stated that the bank has continued to make efforts in supporting ideologies like this, using arts as a tool to promote cultural awareness and to help younger Nigerians form a strong sense of national identity and peaceful co-existence. He assured that the bank would always be driven by cultural heritage, as the initiative aligns very much with the vision of the bank, which is to help partners create, preserve and transfer wealth across generations.
Sekibo noted that if government at all levels adopt the right arts and culture policies and programmes, there would be increment in economic development, which would attract businesses, create new jobs, increase tax revenues and promote tourism. He therefore urged sister banks to support arts and culture through investments in programmes that will promote economic development, jobs creation, and community revitalisation at the three tiers of government in the country.
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, who commended Heritage Bank and other sponsors, said NAFEST provided a platform for the states to make the most of the nation’s culture, adding that culture empowers humanity by improving inter-personal relationships. According to the governor, “Over the years, NAFEST has become the veritable platform for the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory to meet, showcase and make the most of our cultures and diversity.”
For him, “Whether we agree or not, our diversity is what defines and binds us as a nation under the glorious sun. Although our tribes and tongues may differ, we are a nation bound by a common destiny and firmly glued together by the spirit of brotherhood, cultural harmony, and inter-ethnic solidarity instead of discord, tribalism, nepotism and sectionalism.”