Edo breaks NAFEST record

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The 2019 National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) held in Benin City, Edo State, broke the record for states’ participation in the national event with 30 states taking part in different activities of the week-long arts and culture fiesta.

The Director-General, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe disclosed this at the interactive session/town hall meeting held at the Oba Akenzua Cultural Center, held at the weekend.

The guests at the town hall meeting include Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, among others.  Other participants at the town hall meeting are market women, religious leaders, artists, traditional rulers, and students.

Runsewe said the event recorded unprecedented incursion of tourists, adding that all hotels and flights into the state were fully booked while the culture fiesta lasted.

He noted that in the history of hosting the event it is the first time that 30 states will be participating in the festival, adding, “The festival started in 1970 after the civil war to reunite the citizens of the country.”

Speaking at the event, Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo commended Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, for pursuing a cultural agenda which include recovering the lost treasures of the state scattered across the globe and Obaseki-led administration’s vision to reposition the state as the foremost destination for investment and tourism.”

“As we diversify our economy and move our nation in the direction of revenue beyond oil, tourism is clearly one sector which has untold potential for growth. Edo State is blazing a trail in this direction. The governor has rightly prioritised art and culture and by showcasing its rich cultural heritage, Edo State will attract global attractions for the right reasons,” the Vice President said.

On his part, Governor Obaseki said his administration is leveraging on cultural capital to drive investment in the tourism sector noting that tourism is one of the key pillars of his administration’s agenda.

The governor said NAFEST has provided the platform for Edo State to showcase its cultural heritage to the world, noting, “We have great value to offer to the world in terms of art and culture. We believe that within our tradition, we possess a culture of tools with which we will possibly change our future for the better. Benin is already on the map of the heritage site and the next level for my administration is to translate these cultural assets into a hub to attract international tourists’ traffic.

“For us, entering the next level means manifesting the greatness of Edo State through tourism as one of the pathways of sustainable growth and prosperity in the post-oil future. Culture is a united force and when we dig deep into the treasure of our heritage, we will find a means to achieve unity in diversity,” Obaseki noted.