President Goodluck Jonathan has described the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) as a reflection of Nigeria’s unity in diversity where all states in the federation displayed their rich cultural heritage using the event as a platform while building bridges that enhanced their respective inter-cultural and cross ethnic friendships.
The president, who was represented by Vice-President Namadi Sambo made this remark today in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state while declaring open the 28th edition of the National Festival tagged NAFEST 2014 holding in the state.
“The national festival of arts culture, apart from showcasing our rich cultural heritage, enhances our intra and inter cultural linkages, while also serving as a knowledge and reference point for the promotion of the historical and cultural experience of black people worldwide.” Said the President
President Goodluck added that there exists a nexus between arts and culture and the economic growth and technological advancement of any nation. He therefore stated that the economic direction of the festival lies in the great investment potentials and attraction that it held out for the country.
“The sector avails our nation the economic development option with high capacity for economic empowerment, employment opportunities for our citizens, wealth creation as well as good returns on investment. It also habours the potential of making Nigeria a number one tourist attraction globally.”
However, the president has reaffirmed his administration commitment to the diversification of the nation’s economic base. “Let me further reaffirmed that government remains firm in its commitment to the diversification of our economic base beyond our over dependence on Oil and Gas. In this regard, we shall continue to promote the rapid and sustainable growth of the art, tourism and culture sectors of our national economy.” He said.
President Goodluck Jonathan commended the host governor for hosting this year’s edition of the festival as well as the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation for engaging the private sector in a structured development of the sector.
Earlier in his remarks, Governor Martin Elechi of Ebonyi State commended President Goodluck Jonathan for the great interest he has shown over the years in sustaining Nigeria’s cultural heritage.
Governor Martins Elechi added that the Government of Ebonyi State, in recognition of the noble values culture entrenched in the society has embarked on the construction of cultural centres across different cultural groups in the state as meeting point where culture is celebrated and conflicts harmonized. He described the choice of the theme of the Festival as appropriate and timely considering that it was in the middle of this year that Nigeria celebrated her centenary as a nation state, with the unification of the Northern and Southern protectorates in 1914.
The Governor went down memory lane to draw on the efforts to sideline our cultural practices by our colonial masters as barbaric and primitive without success. He also draws on the facts that the positive values of our cultural observances reinforced our religious beliefs and practices and testified to the indestructibility of our cultural values
“Even though culture in itself always portrays the tendency to discriminate against people of different background, the sudden awareness of its relevance as a pillar of civilization and an emblem of identity has proved that it is also unifying factor in our quest for national integration together we are formidable force; together we represent the rich heritage of our identity; together we have woven ourselves as one people unified and thriving to be together.”
Martin Elechi however, called on investors both local and foreign to use the opportunity and invest in new areas of entertainment and also called on historians, sociologists and anthropologists to tap from first hand information.
In his remarks, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation Edem Duke, stated that culture is our common wealth and therefore it was important for us to cherish it. He added that culture was a stimulus to national cohesion and development. He commended the nation’s traditional rulers for upholding our cultural values which serve to reinforce our unity. “Though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand” he added.
Edem Duke thanked President Goodluck Jonathan in his intervention in funding the movie industry in Nigeria while also calling on the president to extend such magnanimity to other players in the entertainment industry like the Musicians, comedians and entertainers amongst other.
High point of the event was the past march by contingents of participating states.
The 28th National Festival of Arts and Culture with the theme “Celebrating Nigeria at 100: the Role of Culture as a Vehicle for National Unity.” Is a one-week cultural event that draws participants across the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT. The event was the 28th Edition of the annual festival. The annual event draws inspiration from the 1977 Festival of Art and Culture tagged FESTAC, which showcased the rich cultural heritage of the Black of Africa and draws participants from all African countries. Since then, the event has been made an annual event to serve as an avenue for promoting peace, unity and national transformation.
Various dignitaries graced the event amongst whom was the Former Governor of Ebonyi State Sam Egwu.
In a related development President Goodluck Jonathan, represented by Vice- President Namadi Sambo has also today commissioned an ultra-modern Conference Centre built by Ebonyi State Government in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state capital.No tags for this post.