Prof. Barclays Ayakoroma, the Executive Secretary of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), says “New Yam” festival celebration in the South East can be a money spinner for the country.
He made the remark on Thursday at the maiden New Yam festival of the Enugu office of the Institute.
Ayakoroma said government could tap into the event to earn foreign exchange.
He added that the passion with which people of the area attached to the festival made it eye-catching and an event which ought to be exported to the rest of the world.
He said “government needs to support this huge festival.
“If a country like Haiti can pay off part of her national debt with earnings from `Carnival of Flowers’, the New Yam festival by Igbo communities can be harnessed to create a festival bigger than can be imagined.
“The Carnival of Flowers was conceptualised from the wild flowers that grow in Haiti and the all popular Edinburgh festival, a collection of 97 different festivals properly harnessed.’’
The NICO boss said that the New Yam festival attempted to take preeminence over many other festivals, stressing that “this can only mean the resurgence, promotion and preservation of our culture.
“The truth is that we are working hard to get it right and this annual festival has continually brought about several benefits which include boosting the local economy.’’
He pointed out that the festival had been a rallying force and had succeeded in bringing the people of the area together for one purpose.
“The New Yam festival has also gone viral, a situation where it is even celebrated even in universities and individual homes and by the Igbo in the Diaspora,” he said.
In a goodwill message, a veteran Nollywood actor, Chief Pete Edochie, urged people of the area to dedicate a unified and special day for the festival.
He said “this will unify us more as a people and we will then begin to think as one. On such days, all markets operated by our people the world over should be closed.
“It will be good if our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora will do same. Lets wear our native cloths and caps on such occasions.’’
Edochie said that a big carnival which would boost the nation’s economy could be made out of the festival.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event attracted scores of traditional rulers from the South East.
The occasion was also used to honour prominent Igbo sons who excelled in their chosen carriers.