By Osa Mbonu-Amadi
The Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi has called for the use of arts and culture in achieving social and political stability for Nigeria. The Governor made the call today in Ado-Ekiti, while declaring open the 2021 National Festival of Arts & Culture, NAFEST, being hosted by the state. The opening ceremony took place at the Ekiti Parapo Pavilion, Ado-Ekiti.
Dr Fayemi said the critical state of Nigeria requires that efforts be intensified to revive the country’s diverse culture and enhance the potential of its arts for social and political stability.
The Governor decried the country’s sole reliance on the performance of crude oil in the international market, which has continued to cripple the country. “Investing in culture is crucial to the general development of any society. Culture impacts on economic growth by strengthening social virtues, creating trust which facilitates relationships and inspiring motivation that stimulates entrepreneurship,” the Governor said.
Dr Fayemi described culture as a glue for uniting people because “it allows for various forms of talent expression.” He said apart from sports, NAFEST is another unique platform for the 36 States of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory to meet, showcase and promote Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage and diversity.”
He said Ekiti State is peaceful, hospitable, generous and has peace-loving people. “So many people who once came as visitors,” the Governor said, “found out that Ekiti is one of the safest and conducive places to settle in. Many of them are today landowners in the State. Many have significant investments in various sectors of the economy. Many have also chosen to be our in-laws.
“So, beyond your participation in NAFEST and visitation to our amazing sites and heritage, feel free to see how well you can integrate yourself and feel at home with us,” the Governor said.
Dr. Fayemi congratulated the staff of the National Council for Arts and Culture and the Ekiti State Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism for their preparedness for the 34th edition of NAFEST.
He said the state has taken the development of culture to the realm of cultural re-orientation, attitudinal change and value orientation. “I am glad to inform you that our core cultural values as Ekiti people have now been included in our educational curriculum to be taught in primary and post-primary schools across the State. This is to let you know how much our government believes in culture as an instrument of change, capable of transforming our society and changing our socio-political and economic narratives for the better.
“Our willingness to host the 34th edition of this national fiesta is not because Ekiti State has huge financial resources or reserves. In fact, Ekiti State, like most States in Nigeria, is currently challenged by the imperative to manage conflicts of multiple financial commitments and very lean revenue income. However, in spite of our meagre financial resources, our administration, in conscious determination not be deterred from achieving this long-time aspiration, decided to pursue the unique opportunity of hosting the festival, and here where we are to witness this glorious moment.”
The Governor assured all a good time throughout their stay in Ekiti, revealing that what the visitors need to be comfortable has been put in place. “These include, but not limited to adequate security all around the venues of the events, the hotels and accommodation venues,” he said.
Earlier in his own speech, the Director General of National Council for Arts & Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe, re-emphasized the significance of the theme of Ekiti NAFEST 2021 which is “Celebrating National Unity in Diversity, saying NAFEST is a Post-Civil War cultural creation which was evolved as a means of healing the wounds and the ethnic bitterness occasioned by the war.
Otunba Runsewe said: “The 2021 theme of NAFEST is apt and timely, given the security challenges Nigeria is currently facing and the pockets of ongoing separatist agitations.”
The DG revealed that there are 12 events in this year’s edition of NAFEST, which includes Children’s Tales by Moonlight, Drama Competition, Traditional Board Game, Children’s Drawing and Painting, Essay Writing Competition, Traditional Cuisines, Archery, Indigenous Fabric & Fashion and Cultural Market.
The week-long event will also witness roundtable discussions, a colorful closing ceremony and presentation of awards.
No fewer than 15 states of the federation are participating in this year’s NAFEST. Some of the states are Rivers, Imo, Delta, Benue, Kogi, Kaduna, Lagos, Adamawa, Borno, Lagos, Ondo, Osun, Bayelsa, Ekiti and Yobe State. River State contingents, as usual, paraded very colorful cultural attires.