Governor Udom Emmanuel who performed the opening ceremony assured that the platform “will create that sense of belief in our people and a platform for them to express the artistic gifts to wider experience and audience”.
He commended the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr Victor Antai, and his team for the efforts in putting together the exhibition, saying it was the first of its kind in the state.
Mr. Emmanuel attributed the successful hosting of the event to the infrastructure put in place by his predecessors notably Obong Victor Attah.
He referred to the Unity Park and Museum and explained that the idea would have been a mirage if such facilities had not been available.
“I want to thank those who had the foresight to put this in place especially all our former governors, all my predecessors.”
The state chief executive who was impressed with the exhibition fair, posited that the ‘Dakkada’ principle of his administration “is predicated on the utilisation of the inert skills and talents to achieve a purpose driven and fulfilled life”.
The governor described Akwa Ibom as a state blessed with a rich cultural heritage, and challenged the Ministry of Culture to ensure that, “whenever there are conference here, we want to see a whole lot of raffia and other cultural products on display so that people can leave here with a means of identifying that they visited this place”.
Besides the raffia products, Governor Emmanuel also reminded the gathering of the availability of seven types of clay in the state, announcing that, “we should be hosting some people who need to come and see how we can refine those clays”.
Refining some of the clays which are currently used for pottery, as the governor put it, would see the state producing tiles, and other water cytern shanks.
In the area of performing arts, a visibly elated Emmanuel eulogized some artistes from the state, notably Ini Edo, Ime Bishop (Okon Lagos), Ini Ikpe, Emem Isong among others, indicating that the state blessed with numerous talents has not been found wanting.
Earlier while welcoming guests, the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Victor Antai said ‘Usoro Uso’ was an “alternative privilege to exhibit the superlative works of Akwa Ibom artists and craftsmen to the nation and beyond,” in commemoration of Governor Emmanuel’s two years in office and the 2017th Democracy Day in Nigeria.
Commissioner Antai promised to utilize the rare support of the Governor by ensuring that, “we sustain this momentum by hosting world class art, culture and tourism events at this edifice as regularly as possible”.
Antai who eulogized the governor for his support which has led to significant milestones in the area of preservation and promotion of the cultural heritage of the state within the last five months, announced that his ministry was embarking on a Public Private Partnership model involving the Ministry, its parastatals and stakeholders in the industry.
Among top guests at the exhibition was veteran printmaker, painter and sculptor, Prof. Bruce Onobrakpeya, who is undoubtedly regarded as Nigeria’s best documented artiste, known within and outside the country.
Prof. Onobrakpeya expressed delight that a lot of work to promote arts in the last 50 years had been celebrated in Akwa Ibom and thanked the governor and his team for the huge support to the growth of Nigeria arts.
“This is the highpoint in the development of Nigeria art, and I want to say that former Governor Attah who was my classmate in Zaria knew the difficulties we encountered in developing art, but now all can see that Art has now been recognized and accepted by the people”.
He said this will make art to take its rightful place as a strong pillar in the development of the country, and envisaged that Akwa Ibom would be recognized on the global map.
Other dignitaries at the function include former Governor Victor Attah, top Nigerian celebrities and renowned arts professionals.
The exhibition at ‘Usoro Uso’ is expected to be open till June 22, 2017 between 9am and 5pm daily.