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By Gregory Austin Nwakunor
20 March 2022   |   4:15 am
Plans are in top gears to make this year’s International Arts and Crafts (INAC) Expo bigger and more culture friendly.

Otunba Segun Runsewe

Plans are in top gears to make this year’s International Arts and Crafts (INAC) Expo bigger and more culture friendly.

The Director General of National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe, gave this revelation when he received Ambassador of the People’s Republic of Turkey, Hidayet Bayraktar, who visited him recently.

Runsewe, who expressed delight in the visit of the envoy, said the diplomatic relationship between Nigeria and Turkey dates back to 1962 and has since grown with much strength and friendliness.

The NCAC boss said the council would host the diplomatic community to a Pre-INAC Dinner, where guests are expected to unwind and share ideas on their experience and expectation leading to the INAC Expo in August.

Runsewe promised to deepen the participation of the Republic of Turkey by providing a media platform where the country would showcase its potential.

The ambassador thanked the Director General for opening his doors to receive them, which, according to him, is a huge sign of hospitality.

He said Nigeria and the Republic of Turkey have deep cultural heritage, which he hoped could be harnessed. He added that his embassy has facilities for exhibitions and hopes to partner with NCAC to put them into proper use.

The ambassador said that the council should create a platform where there would be a strong collaboration between Nollywood and the Turkish Embassy to showcase both countries rich cultural heritage through films.

The Director General also played host to the Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba, Her Excellency, Clara Escandell.

Runsewe revealed that Nigeria and the Republic of Cuba have very rich cultural heritage adding that the similarities that also exist both in music and dance needs to be explored to create room for easy affiliation.

He said NCAC has provided a platform for the diplomatic community to gather and rub minds on cultural issues to engender cultural diplomacy.

Runsewe assured that during the expo, the Republic of Cuba would feature prominently and given opportunity to speak to the international media on ways to collaborate with the youths for possible cultural exchange programmes.

She reiterated the need for stronger collaboration between the NCAC and the Republic of Cuba to harness the rich cultural heritage of both countries for export.

MEANWHILE, the Lagos State government and NCAC have pledged to work in tandem with each other to make the 35th edition of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) the best of its kind in the history of the festival.

This understanding was reached at the preliminary meeting between officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the National Council for Arts and Culture in preparation for the 2022 edition of NAFEST held at the Council’s headquarters in Abuja.

Runsewe, who hosted the meeting, welcomed the high-powered delegation led by the Honourable Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Pharm (Mrs.) Uzamat Yussuf to his office in Abuja.

“The essence of the Pre-NAFEST maiden meeting is for us to interact and brief you on details of hosting the festival which will bring together contingents from the 36 States and the FCT to Lagos State during the fiesta,” Otunba Runsewe.

Said he: “As a build-up to the event, Lagos State shall host a National Technical Committee (NTC) meeting comprising commissioners and the directors of State’s Arts Councils and the management of the NCAC.”

He further explained that the National Technical Committee serves as a platform for reviewing and adopting the syllabus for the festival as well as inspection of venues for various events.

Runsewe, therefore, expressed the need for the State Local Organising Committee (LOC) to work in close partnership with the National Organising Committee (NOC) for effective coordination and clarified that the Local Organising Committee would form their sub-committees with import from the NCAC.

In her reaction, the commissioner expressed delight for the warm hospitality shown them by the council boss.

The commissioner stated that their visit was informed by the need to reaffirm the state’s readiness to host the 35th edition of the festival.

“We are here to learn the modalities and all that is required to be a successful host because we want to host the best of NAFEST in the history of the festival,” she assured.

Also speaking, the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Culture and Tourism, Solomon Bonu, revealed that the quest for the 2022 hosting right began in 2020 when the festival was hosted by Plateau State.

According to Honourable Bonu, Lagos State had to improve on their facilities to meet all criteria set by the NCAC to emerge winner. He, therefore, assured that as against the seven days that the festival normally hold, Lagos State will hold a Pre-NAFEST for seven days preceding the main event. This will be an opportunity for all local government areas to showcase their rich cultural heritage.

Highlight of the visit was the conferment of the title of ‘Mama NAFEST 2022’ to the First Lady of Lagos State, Mrs. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, who will be expected to host the children during the festival.