The 2011 edition of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST), hosted by Cross River State, came to a close amidst pomp and pageantry on Friday, October 28, 2011, at the U.J. Esuene Stadium, Calabar, with the Honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, High Chief Edem Duke, stating that “NAFEST is one of the potent instruments the country can use to drive its development goals and aspirations”.
Speaking further, Chief Duke said, “there is need to properly package the country’s cultural products, and improve and sustain our local products to meet our demands rather than relying on inferior imported goods and services;” and then urged the private sector to make serious efforts towards exploring investment opportunities in the culture sector.
On the other hand, the Cross River State Governor, Sen. Liyel Imoke, lauded the hosting of the cultural festival in his state saying, “it has achieved its objective of consolidating the Nigerian culture and tradition and harnessing its economic potential for national development”.
According to Governor Imoke, the festival had also served as a window for the rest of the world to appreciate the distinct and diverse cultural heritage of Nigeria, stating that, “the emergence of cultural industries as a result of the annual cultural festival, have the potential to empower Nigerians economically and providing the much needed employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths in the country”.
He said with fiestas like NAFEST, “Not only will the nation create wealth through the annual festival but it will also help to highlight the unique and diverse cultural features of a united Nigeria to the rest of the world.”
Executive Director of the National Council of Arts and Culture, Mr. Malgwi M. Maidugu, who is the Festival Director, stated that, “the festival was not a jamboree as perceived by some, but a serious avenue for talent and skills development as well as job and wealth creation for Nigerians and Nigeria,” and called on Nigerians to seize the opportunity provided by the annual Arts and Culture Festival to empower themselves economically.
NAFEST, the festival that unites the nation, which had the theme for the 2011 edition as, “Nigerian Traditional Music: A Vehicle for Economic Transformation and Unity,” had 32 states across the country, including the Federal Capital Territory participating, and saw Nasarawa State emerging overall best on the medals table, for the third year running, while Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa States came 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Jonathan N. Nicodemus