Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State Capital, was agog on Monday as contingents from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory converged on Ekiti parapo pavilion in different colours and cultural displays for the opening session of the 34th National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST).
Declaring open the cultural fiesta themed, “Celebrating National Unity in Diversity,” Ekiti State Governor and Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr Kayode Fayemi, described the annual cultural celebration as a vital tool for integration, unity, economic prosperity and political stability of the country.
At the event, where representatives across the states of the federation observed a cultural parade that reflected their rich cultural heritage in colourful attires and peculiar cultural instruments witnessed the staging of a melodious drama titled, “children of the rolling hills,” that was orchestrated by the wife of Ekiti State Governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi.
Speaking, Fayemi maintained that the current economic and political state of the country requires concerted efforts and investment in arts and culture to give room for the expression of talents, promotion of unity of the country in its diversity and harnessing human potentials for economic prosperity.
Stressing the importance of culture for national development and economic growth, the governor said culture impacts on economic growth by strengthening social virtues, creating trust which facilitates relationships and inspiring motivation that stimulates entrepreneurship.
“We know and understand that culture is one of the main pillars of development, for without culture, it is certain that development would be greatly hindered. The critical state of our nation requires that efforts be intensified to revive our diverse culture and enhance the potential of our arts to ensure social and political stability, both of which hinge on the viability of the economy.
“The burden of our national commitments which has rested solely on the performance of our crude oil in the international market has continued to render the nation immobile. This calls for an innovative solution. Investing in culture is crucial to the general development of any society.
“As a country with diverse cultures, it is imperative for us to take advantage of the innate strength in our diversity, and our human and natural resources, to build a united, just and prosperous country for the present and future generations,” he said.
The governor disclosed that his administration in Ekiti State has taken arts and culture beyond mere performance to the realm of cultural re-orientation, attitudinal change, value orientation and its integration into the state’s educational curriculum to be taught at primary and post primary level.
Fayemi added that the national event was in fulfilment of his administration’s efforts at exposing Ekiti to both national and international attractions to woo more stakeholders in the culture, tourism and creative world to the state.
Also speaking, the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe, commended Fayemi for not only demonstrating strong political will in hosting this year’s NAFEST but for also mobilising government apparatus to take active role in ensuring the success of the event.
He disclosed that this year’s event would feature several competition including tales by moonlight, drama, traditional board games, children’s drawing and painting, children’s essay writing, traditional cuisines, archery, indigenous fabric and fashion and cultural market display where winners would be given prizes and award.
Runsewe added that participants would also have opportunity to visit the rich cultural tourist centres in the state like the popular Ikogosi warm spring, Arinta water fall, Fajuyi park and amusement, Ogun Onire groove and others in the course of the week- long event.
At the event were the Deputy Governor, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi; Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Rt Hon. Funminiyi Afuye; Secretary to the State Government, Hon Biodun Oyebanji; Head of Service, Mrs Peju Babafemi; Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, Prof Rasak Ojo Bakare and his counterparts from the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.