Sen. Rochas Okorocha, Chairman, Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, has expressed greater hope that Nigeria will definitely lead the world with the vast culture and tourism potential.
Okorocha said this at opening ceremony of the 33rd National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) held at Rwang Pam Township Stadium, Jos, Plateau on Monday.
The theme of the event was “COVID-19 and Cultural Dynamism”.
The lawmaker advised Nigerians generally to keep hope alive as the COVID-19 pandemic and the ENDSARS protests which had caused lots of havoc to the nation would be forgotten issues with time.
He said Nigeria was only going through a phase that would lead to greatness as some other countries had experienced in the past.
He noted that the two incidences had aggravated the nation’s problems of unemployment.
“Our nation is going through a difficult moment but this is not the period to apportion blame.
“Year 2020 has been a difficult and unique year for us all. We lost our loved ones, our economy is affected and unemployment has increased due to COVID-19 pandemic.
“I believe there is a future for Nigeria. Nigeria will soon take the centre stage.
“We are created specially and we know that definitely Nigeria shall one day lead the world. I appeal to the youth to relax because a greater Nigeria will be here soon.
“For the younger ones, I want to assure you all that all hope is not lost; we are only going through what other nations have gone through before the attainment of greatness, Japan once went through these,’’ the lawmaker said.
Okorocha commended Otunba Segun Runsewe, Director-General National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) and Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau for efforts put in place to host this year’s festival amid COVID-19 pandemic.
He urged Gov. Lalong to make the state showed the lead in tourism as the state was known as the State of Peace and Tourism.
“Plateau State must show the lead in tourism. The Kura falls is there for tourists; the weather is spectacular and the diverse rich culture of the people.
“There is no better place to start tourism in Nigeria than Plateau. May we begin to package tourism such that the foreigners can visit.
“When we market our tourism potential well enough, oil and petroleum will no longer be our sole sources of revenue,” he said.
Okorocha urged the NCAC boss to invite most of the foreign Ambassadors for subsequent editions of the festival to enable them see what the nation was endowed with culturally as well as tourism.
Earlier, Runsewe suggested Plateau as a suitable location for medical tourism considering the beautiful weather condition and other tourism potential embedded in the state.
He urged indigenes of the state to live in peace and harmony and focus on building on its cultural and tourism potential.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 21 states participated in the cultural parade during the opening ceremony. (NAN)