I’m Proudly Yobe by birth, by marriage, and by existence  – Hajia Husna Ibrahim, Exec Dir. Yobe State Arts And Culture  

Hajia Husna Ibrahim, the Executive Director, Yobe State Arts And Culture, was one of the delegates at the recently held NAFEST Stakeholders Review Conference put together by the Director General of National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

She was there as a stakeholder, and also to represent Yobe State Governor and Yobe State Honourable Commissioner, for Arts and Culture.

In this interview with Paul Ukpabio, she throws more light on the conference and the state of Arts, culture and tourism in Nigeria.

What impressions are you taking from this conference?

First of all, I will like to commend Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, the Director General of the National Council for Arts and Culture, for this conference. It is first of its kind in Nigeria. It has brought stakeholders together to discuss the performances NAFEST in the last 35 years. You know, NAFEST (National Festival of Arts and Culture) is the platform that brings Nigeria together to promote culture and provide entertainment as well as enlightening the people of all the various cultural values in Nigeria. So this conference had the mandate to review specifically the objective of NAFEST and to link it to the renewed hope of the President administration under this present administration.

I can see that the conference has achieved its objectives, because right from the time I came, the way we were received, the activities line up for the occasion and as well as the coordination, it has all been marvelous. One of the take away is the syndication into groups, that eventually led to the adoption of the very inclusive communique, which will enhance and also support the gradual shift from oil boom for wealth creation for Nigeria, to focus on the Arts and tourism sector.

* With the DG NCAC, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe during NAFEST Delegate’s visit to Nike Arts Gallery, Abuja

The DG Says Culture is the people, and people are the culture, when you better the lot of people you are giving culture the light, so that we eliminate all social vices in our community. Every good government would want to tap into this and enhance cultural activities in their state and particularly, we that are in the northeast state. We have insurgency, we have insecurity. We really need culture to foster social solutions and make people realise the importance of peace for development. Sustainable development must be achieved through culture. By the time you enlighten the people on the values of our social norms, definitely people will not go into social vices that is causing chaos in the community, that are bringing about all these problem of insecurity and insurgency. So, every government is advised through the communique to better their budget for culture and also give agriculture an accessable funding to enhance the people and bring sustainability and development to the state.

For those of us or some people who don’t know about Yobe state, what is the state of art and culture in Yobe state? 

Yobe state is a place you will come and enjoy art and culture because my people are endowed with so many cultural values starting from Art, Dance, Drama, Fashion and every other thing. Regarding cultural heritage, we have artifacts and craftmanship. You’ll be so blessed when you come to Yobe state.

When we talk about culture we separate it from tourism, Yobe really has a tourism attraction centre that can change the world. Despite civilization starting 5000 years ago, a Yobe Fulani man found an artifact, a water Crab that has been ascertained by expert that, the artifact is 8500 years. That means somehow somewhere somebody will begin to go back to history to say how! That means something has to be done again despite the saying that civilization began in Egypt some 5000 years ago. That will profit not only Yobe but the entire nation. You understand, so that is what I am saying that what Yobe has in particular is worthwhile, it’s a hot cake. That we will begin to look at how we will start enhancing it so that people will start generating revenue for both the state and the nation, and then we can also generate jobs for the youths and we will also utilise it for tourism invention. What people look at is a disadvantage or negative trends.

* At delegates group deliberation during NAFEST Conference 

Does Yobe state have disadvantages?

Yobe has disadvantages, Yes, I agree, but we are turning it to advantage. We have sand dunes, also our oasis, this is another tourism attraction. If you go there, if they tell you this is Dubai you will agree and Yobe has government under His Excellency, Governor Mai Mala Buni, who is making real effort to make sure that, the place becomes a tourism venture that will bring people from across the globe to come and witness what is happening there. We have Durbar, we hold it as a great cultural value for our people where the kings, kingsmen always showcase our culture at the festival; Motor riding, Biking; these are the major ones, though each tribe have their different types of cultural events.

I see a great opportunity for Yobe state using culture that will change the narrative of Yobe state as an insecurity zone to a peaceful and loving society

I notice that you speak Hausa, you speak Ibo, how did that come about?

Yes, that is one great value of Yobe state. My parents are Ibos but I was born and bred in Yobe state and because of the hospitality, because of the inclusiveness of Yobe state and because Yobe is also Nigerian, because wherever you are born, that is your state. I am Yobe, proudly Yobe. Proudly Yobe by birth, by marriage, and by existence. So, I speak Yobe, I speak almost all the tribes in Yobe and I speak my mother’s tongue. You know Ibos will always teach their children their mother tongue and that is the tradition everybody should imbibe. You will find out that in the North, Hausa is overtaking every other minor languages, but we are also creating awareness for the people not to forget their mother tongue so they can also transfer it. The younger generation I fear might not even remember their native languages. But with this new ways that we are going about culture, I think we are going to rejuvenate this things and make people have their cultures back.

People feel that most Nigerians don’t marry to other culture, but you are an example here. Will you encourage intermarriages, inter-cultural marriages in  Nigeria?

Very well! You see what I think about marriage is that, people who think they can’t marry another culture, are just being myopic in thought. Because if you say marriage is about love, then love has no limit. It does not even, ask you where you are coming from, you can just see somebody and fall in love. If that marriage is for love then you have no boundaries to where you can marry.

Apart from Yobe, have lived in other parts of Nigeria?

I visit!

Can you compare the lifestyle in the North to the lifestyle in the South, vis-a-vis travel around Nigeria?

Yes, I will tell you that, with my little knowledge of what I know about East and South compared to the knowledge I have of the North, people in Northern Nigeria are more into culture than the Easterners and Southerners who have embraced modern civilization than the Northerners. The Northerners still keep their culture intact even when they are exposed to civilization, they don’t tamper with culture.

This year, a new government came to town. Even then, until this NAFEST deliberations, the arts, culture and tourism sector has remained dull and somewhat in active! But with this NAFEST Conference communique and a single, national working document for the sector, do you see hope for the sector?

Though I am going to speak specifically for Yobe but I want to stand with the National because we say we are having a government of the renewed hope. If we can key into the renewed hope, then there is hope there. I see great opportunity for culture, then coming back to Yobe state, in fact it’s a government that is so open, a government that takes what the people want to heart. So, the people want their culture, the people want to make sure that they are involved in what the government is doing and that is culture. In Yobe we believe in oneness, we believe in respect for elders and everyone, we believe in what can keep us together and how it works for peaceful coexistence. So, I see very bright future for culture in Yobe state and in the nation at large.

Your educational background. And do you think more women are embracing education in the North and in the South? Do you see more women coming into position of decision making?

As a person, I am educated, I have knowledge, but knowledge is never enough. So I keep striving for more knowledge. I have a Master’s degree in English language, I also have Masters in online journalism, I have degree in English language. I also have a Diploma in Mass communication. So when it comes to what I do I have been a professional Journalist before I became a youth executive. About education and leadership position for Women particularly, we have a very swift change on that with the coming of this present administration because, more women are now into leadership positions in the state, you can imagine for the first time in the history of the Northeast, a woman is the chair person of a local government. First time! And then this same government is also giving appointments to women. And this is because women have embraced education and there is also an attitudinal change in the community, that now allows women to go to school. Girls are now completing their school in a row, they are completing their schools even if they get married. Yes! People are supporting it. I see that more women are coming out, and they are more empowered you know to take up leadership positions. That is why people like us who have been empowered in one way or the other, have to add value to the government so that more women will also be educated as a result of this, and given opportunity.

Share Article

Go toTop