The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, has organised a 2day workshop to sensitize the general public on the implementation of the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of Armed Conflict, with the Theme: Security and Preservation of Culture Property; The Nigeria Experience, which held on 23rd- 24th May 2022, at the National Press centre, Radio House, Garki Abuja.
Speaking at the event, the Permanent Secretary Dr. Ifeoma Adaora Anyanwutaku stated that the objective of the workshop was to produce a National Strategic Plan for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of Armed Conflict. She recall that Nigeria ratified the first protocol of the 1954 Hague Convention on the protection of cultural properties on 5th June 1961 and the second protocol on 21th October 2005 and has since been committed to the implementation of the instrument.
Anyanwutaku further stated that as part of Nigeria’s obligation for the convention, the Ministry last year organised a 3days workshop held on 26th to 27th June 2021, which drew a wide representation and participation of key Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Armed Forces, other Security Agencies, Media, Civil Society Organization and other relevant stakeholders.
She explained that it was discovered that various stakeholders have been working in silos without synergy in the protection of these properties and that the major challenges bedevilling the implementation of the 1954 convention were identified, adding that there were no strategic plans that initially spell out roles of relevant agencies of government, traditional institutions, private Sectors and other stakeholders to protect cultural properties.
The Permanent Secretary stated that in the cause of this workshop, she has approved the recommendation in the communique to put in place machinery to organise National workshop to bring together relevant stakeholders to produce National Strategic lan for the protection of cultural properties in armed conflict.
The Etsu Nupe HRH, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, in his goodwill message, appreciated the Ministry for the ratification of the 7th UNESCO convention, which is now in the process of being domesticated, adding that it is a welcoming development, as it would help in creating awareness to the Armed forces, para-military, traditional institutions, private sectors and the general public of the importance of protecting the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of society inherited from generations.
He further stated that as a traditional ruler, it is his duty to preserve the customs, traditions and cultural heritage of the people and that cultural properties are to a greater or less extent unique, precious and irreplaceable and there is the need for its protection, adding that cultural properties defines people’s behavioural pattern in the society’s, ideals, traditions arts, morals and beliefs that gives humanity a national identity.
Mr. Olagunju Idowu, the Secretary General, Nigerian National Commission for UNESCO, in his goodwill message stated that he is encouraged that Nigeria is taking the bold step in the implementation by creating awareness amongst citizens and at the same time sensitizing citizens on the value of their cultural heritage, adding that the convention was adopted in Hague on 14th may 1954 and that it was specifically applied to move cultural properties only and also prohibit the exportation from occupied territories and return to the original territories at the conclusion of hostilities.
At the end of the event interactive sessions were held to avail participants on the topic.