From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
Three Rivers state indigenous artists have won an award to travel Dubai to showcase their talents for purpose of economic achievement for themselves and the state.
The three beneficiaries, Dumbor Debeeh, Oscar Taribo Tamgba and Samuel Nwankwo who won the award for the trip were selected as a result of their performance during the 2020 graffiti/graphic arts competition held in the state.
According to the Director General of Rivers state Tourism Development Agency, Yibo Koko, the competition was organized by the agency in partnership with the Dubai Tourism for Commerce and Marketing.
Mr Koko who spoke at the unveiling and presentation of winners of the Tourism award, in Port Harcourt, stressed that the event is a way of encouraging Rivers people to domesticate tourism for economy growth of the state.
He said: “Our job is to make the international community see the impact of our traditional art. When I came onboard I noticed that Rivers state alone has done more than 252 events by the citizenry and few of them have attracted interest of international community.
“As DG, we brought in consultants to work to click in the tourism space and make it lucrative. Is still our tangible idea and that is why we went further to think that the community people should domesticate tourism, to making the people understand what tourism is in the first place.”
Koko informed that “2021 is the United Nation’s year of creative economy for sustainable development or the African Union year for art, culture and Tourism. Now, Rivers state is in the middle of all of these because we have an International Airport to ourselves, we have the local Airport, we have the seaports; that means that we can grow this tourism economy.”
Also speaking at the event, Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mrs Tonye Briggs Oniyide, congratulated Koko for his effort in developing RSTDA, revealed that the winners will have a full sponsorship for the trip, commending the Director of International Operations, Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Stella Fubara-Obinwa for her commitment in the development of culture and Tourism in the state.
She said “Our sons who won will have a full sponsorship trip to Dubai, they have given them return tickets and all expenses paid to Dubai. While they are there they are going to learn more and bring back the experiences to Rivers state.”
She congratulated the DG of Rivers state Tourism Development Agency, Yibo Koko, for his effort in developing the sector. “I am aware of his many efforts and I thank him for working closely with the Ministry.”
Presenting the traveling awards to the winners, the Secretary to the State Government, Tammy Danagogo, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Dr George C. Nwaeke, noted that Rivers is an important place in the cultural and economy of the country.
Danagogo regretted that in the period of Covid alot of activities were dropped, adding that the Rivers state Tourism and Development Agency has done well.
He said “This occasion is just an opportunity for us to bring to the knowledge of the whole world that there are talents here in Rivers state and they have done well. This is just the beginning of their being exposed to the whole world and we are going to unveil and introduce them to the world.”
One of the beneficiaries of the award, Samuel Nwankwo, who spoke with The AUTHORITY expressed gratitude to the agency and Rivers state government for looking at the profession and ready to give it a lift.
He said: ‘Is a dream come through. I put in my effort believing that God will also crown my effort. Is a thing of joy to have participated in such exhibition.
“Haven gone through alot as an artist, you know in Nigeria Art is not always a favourable procession but God do His own thing in His own way. I think this is one way we have been crowned. As a teacher I always tell my students to do their best in all they do, put in your effort.
“As a member is Society of Nigerian Artists, I wish the Rivers state government will look into that body because we have alot to offer, we have been doing alot and we need more. Rivers state has alot to offer to the world, we are fertilizer soil, sow that seed in us and the government will not regret it’.