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Boosting NAFEST 2019 with Edo royalty


Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki (second right); Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, Hon. Osaze Osemwegie-Ero (right), Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe (middle); Director, Research NCAC, Mr. Sam Agbi (left); and Director Special Duties, NCAC, Dr. Elizabeth Ben-Iheanacho (second left), during a courtesy visit by executives of NCAC to the governor, at Government House, in Benin City, Edo State.

The Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, has assured of his state’s readiness to host a world-class National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) later in the year, as a way to raise the culture feast’s profile.He equally promised to enrich the cultural content of NAFEST with robust presence of Benin royalty and culture never seen anywhere before now.

Obaseki gave the assurance when he received a delegation of management of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), led by its Director General, Otunba Segun Runsewe, in Government House, Benin City, the state capital, on Thursday.

Speaking at a pre NAFEST 2019 engagement meeting at the Government House, Obaseki noted that Edo, being the cultural nerve centre of Nigeria, will bring its rich cultural experience to embellish the growing influence of NAFEST as the true face of Nigeria’s culture celebration and unity, adding that Edo State under his watch is honoured to fly the cultural flag of the nation at a time with this in the history of Nigeria.

According to the governor, Edo State has huge cultural assets to showcase to the world at the festival, and noted that the agitation for the repatriation of the over 6000 artefacts looted during the Benin Expedition of 1897 was ongoing.He commended the Runsewe-led NCAC for repackaging NAFEST, with new offerings that were on display last year in Port Harcourt and charged the council to explore the huge potential in the state’s eco-tourism sector. He tasked the council to lead the way in the development of a world-class tourism master plan that would drive tourist traffic to sites and destinations across the country.

Obaseki told his guests that his administration was committed to developing the culture and tourism sector in the state, with ongoing work on implementable plans to reposition the sector to maximise its potential.He equally urged him to break more records. “With what you have done with NAFEST, some of us are reassured that Nigeria can rebound in all aspects of our national life and we are proud to have you at the centre as key partner to take Nigeria out of the woods to the promised land,” Obaseki said.

To drive the 2019 edition of the Festival slated for October, the governor immediately directed the state commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Osewingie Ero, to put in place, a local organising committee to ensure stress free organisation of the festival with detailed cost inputs forwarded to his office.

In his response, Runsewe disclosed that he was in Benin to appreciate the governor for bidding and winning the hosting right for 2019 edition of NAFEST, promising to pay detailed attention to the full content of festival, not excluding it’s marketing and promotion.

At the pre-festival meeting, Runsewe commended the giant strides and initiatives of the governor for being the first in Nigeria to introduce cultural clubs in Edo public schools and also the introduction of culture/tourism desk at Benin Airport as a process of reviving and sustaining Edo culture in the minds of the people and Nigerians at large.

The DG of NCAC revealed that a national organising committee for NAFEST 2019 in Edo would be announced soon to enable NCAC to showcase another record breaking outing in Benin possibly more than the last edition held in Rivers state last year. Notable intervention on content such as, cultural golf competition, empowerment and skill acquisition, health outreach, children cultural dance and competition with a special outing with Edo State governor’s wife will brace the Edo October outing.

Recall that at the 2018 edition in Port Harcourt, over a thousand youths and children acquired various skills in the areas of soap production, bead making, fashion design, shoe manufacturing, makeup, art and craft design and many more.Rivers State was the overall winner in the 2018 edition. Bayelsa State came second, while Ondo and Delta states were third and fourth respectively.

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