By Adeleye Kunle
There could not have been a better time for Lagos State to host this year’s National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST), which will take place in November. As host of the festival’s first edition in 1970, Lagos State is poised not only to galvanize Nigerians and promote unity in the country, but also to mend the populace’s broken psyche.
Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos State, has therefore urged Nigerians to see their diversity, ethnicity, and religious tolerance as opportunities to unite rather than allow politics and other factors to divide them. “We believe that bringing the NAFEST Festival to Lagos during this difficult time in our country will help to galvanize the country.” By the grace of God, the NAFEST 2022 in Lagos will be used to heal this country. “It will be used to bring our diversity together in unity,” he said.
Governor Sanwo-Olu spoke during a courtesy visit to Lagos House in Ikeja last week by the National Technical Committee of the National Festival of Arts and Culture, led by Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe. This year’s festival theme is Culture and peaceful coexistence, which is a direct response to the nation’s current security challenges and the need for long-term peace, social harmony, and national unity.
“If sports can bring us together, arts, culture, and entertainment can do even better,” he said. And if we do it well enough before the general elections in 2023, we will have used that platform to heal the country. We would have used it to show people that we don’t have anywhere else to go. It is our responsibility to repair it (Nigeria).
“We should view NAFEST as an opportunity to come together, heal, and project unity for our country, not just as a festival.” And ensure that if we can go into next year with all of our tribulations and fears, we will overcome them, have free and peaceful elections, and build a better and larger nation that will be the envy of the world. That is what I am anticipating.
“Let us see our differences as an opportunity to come together.” Let us see our ethnicity as an opportunity to bring us together. Let us see our religious tolerance as a chance to come together. We must not let politics and other factors divide us. “I am a firm believer in arts, culture, and entertainment as a simple language that transcends tribe, ethnicity, and religious bias.”
Lagos, according to Governor Sanwo-Olu, will continue to be a source of pride for all and a rallying point for Nigeria.
“It is really important for us as a government to ensure that we can use every breath that we have to better the lot of our people; that we can use the opportunity God has given us to recreate a tomorrow for citizens, and we can only do that by ensuring that everything that has to do with good governance is what we are doing.”
“Lagos will open its arms to ensure a spectacular and trouble-free event, and most importantly, to ensure that we can heal our country; that we can stop the bleeding in the country, and that we can use it (NAFEST festival) to unite Nigeria,” he added.
He also revealed that, in addition to hosting NAFEST in November, Lagos State will commission the largest and best African museum, the JK Randle Museum for Arts and Culture, as well as host the United Nations World Tourism Organization and an art exhibition in November.
Earlier, Runsewe praised Governor Sanwo-dedication Olu’s to promoting tourism, arts, and culture, noting that the government’s decision to make Entertainment and Tourism a fifth pillar in the six-pillar THEMES development agenda for Greater Lagos was commendable.
He stated that no development could take place in Nigeria without the cooperation of Lagos State, and he urged Nigerians to work together with Lagos to move the country forward.
He stated that the November festival in Lagos would be used to unite the nation and preach love to all citizens of the country. According to him, this year’s nafest must be used to spread, project, and enact the fact that peace is the foundation of any nation’s growth.
“Without peace, there can be no social harmony or a conducive environment for meaningful elections, and the society will descend into chaos, violence, anarchy, and retrogression.” That is why we will be attending EKO NAFEST to preach, enact, dramatize, propagate, and promote peace,” he stated.
The National Technical Committee of NAFEST adopted November 7th to 13th as the date for EKO NAFEST 2022 in a communiqué.
The communiqué also urged states and stakeholders to mobilize interests in order to sustain various national cultural programs so that the government understands the sector’s importance to national development.
It went on to say that the government and legislatures at all levels should put proper legislation in place as soon as possible to give culture its proper place within the framework of national development.
“Governments at all levels should increase their budgetary commitment to cultural and tourism promotion as a tool for strengthening national unity, increasing job creation, and fostering international relationships.”
“The need for greater synergy and cooperation among Cultural Agencies was emphasized, with particular reference to CBAAC’s Memo concerning the 45th Anniversary celebration of FESTAC ’77,” it said.
Participants also advocated for the reintroduction and teaching of Nigerian history, fine and applied arts, and sports in our school curricula as a means of understanding and appreciating the Nigerian brand, encouraging productivity, and overall youth development.
“There is an urgent and proper archiving (electronic and otherwise) of our cultural practices needed to separate the spiritual from the performative available for public consumption, as this is key to growing the cultural tourism business in Nigeria,” the communiqué added.
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