Culture Stakeholders Commend Buhari on COVID-19 Palliatives


Charles Ajunwa

Culture industry technocrats and players have commended President Muhammadu Buhari for responding to the challenges facing the sector through the committee on creative industry.

The stakeholders who made the commendation during a meeting in Jos, Plateau State, noted that the creative committee on the palliatives for the sector came at right time, adding that it restored hope and brought a huge relief to an industry brought to its knees by COVID-19 pandemic.

The Creative Committee on COVID-19 Palliatives headed by the Director-General of National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Segun Runsewe, also commended the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, for being a listening leader and carrying stakeholders along in all policy decisions.

Ekiti State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Professor Ojo Bakare, who spoke on behalf of delegates at the technical meeting on NAFEST 2020 slated for November 21 to 28 in Jos, Plateau State capital, noted that Otunba Runsewe-led committee on palliatives would bring a rapid turnaround to sectoral players whose businesses were battered by the pandemic, praying federal government to institute an Arts and Culture Endowment Fund.

“We want to appeal to the President Buhari and the minister through Otunba Segun Runsewe to approve this initiative. It will help the industry find financial solution and succour which will help us each time we run into problems such as we experienced under COVID-19.

Kwara, Taraba, Anambra states have indicated interest to host NAFEST in 2022 while Ekiti State is confirmed to host 2021.

Similarly, impressed with the doggedness, organisation, perseverance and innovations brought to bear on Nigeria’s cultural economy despite the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic, Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong, has described Runsewe as the authentic cultural ambassador of Nigeria.

Governor Lalong disclosed that Runsewe’s innovative spirit and determination places culture in the front burner of national discourse, ensuring that NAFEST, Nigeria’s cultural festival holds despite the pandemic.

“ I can’t but salute the courage and perseverance of the DG of NCAC and President, World Craft Council Africa region and every one of you for trying to help us to activate the new normal as the pandemic will be with us for a while,” the governor stated.

He noted that Plateau State had put in place necessary machinery to ensure NAFEST 2020 in Jos will be more than successful.

“We shall leave no stone unturned to guarantee the safety of the delegates and visitors, most importantly, at the end, share our dream of friendship, partnership and national unity with participants willing ambassadors of plateau tourism and hospitality,” Governor Lalong explained.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Hospitality, Mrs. Martha Joseph Azi, Governor Lalong explained that Plateau hosted NAFEST 24 years ago, adding that the 2020 edition will help birth and showcase the rich cultural heritage of the people and the giant stride of his administration to ensure the peaceful coexistence in the Plateau nation including the enthronement of enabling environment for cultural tourism businesses to thrive.

“We are aware that hosting events such as NAFEST can bring about improvement in the socioeconomic engagement of our people, boost cultural tourism which is the main component of our God given endowment,” he further explained.

While urging participants to adhere strictly to the COVID-19 protocols, Governor Lalong reiterated that Plateau State Government would ensure that NAFEST 2020 celebrations in Jos will comply with all directives and advice from the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and that of NCDC to guide the spread of the COVID-19.

“We shall deploy all relevant health services providers, provide adequate health information to guide participants and visitors and the emplacement of necessary measures to ensure total compliance.”

The theme for the 33rd edition of NAFEST, Jos 2020 is ‘Post COVID-19 and Cultural Dynamism’.

NAFEST hosting under the watch of Otunba Runsewe, is bided for and rotated among the 36 states of the federation.