Address By The Honourable Minister Of Tourism, Culture And National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke At The NAFEST 2013 Press Briefing, Held On Tuesday, 10th September, 2013, At The Honourable Minister’s Conference Room, Federal Secretariat, Abuja

Gentlemen of the Press

1. It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this Pre-NAFEST Press Briefing. As you are aware, this interaction forum is to inform the media and all other stakeholders about the level of preparedness towards staging the 27th edition of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) 2013.

2. As should be clear to all observers, NAFEST has lived up to its expectation of promoting National Integration, peace and unity. This is been aptly demonstrated in the level of participation which cuts across the 36 states of the federation and FCT encompassing Governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations, Community Based Groups, Professional Associations, Schools and Institutions of Higher learning. Such a large gathering from the different segments of the Nigeria society would no doubt encourage healthy interaction that would lead to the building of bridges of understanding, harmony and peace, which is dearly needed, now more than before, in our quest to transform our economy.

3. Between the close of last NAFEST and today, various actions have been embarked upon to ensure the success of this year’s edition. Amongst such efforts are the Meetings of the Chief Executives of Culture of the Federation, held in Makurdi, Benue State in March and Yenagoa, Bayelsa State in August, 2013.

4. Following these meetings and other levels of consultation, the theme of the festival was discussed and accepted as, “Culture, Peace and National Transformation.”

5. Ladies and Gentlemen, this theme is designed to address our present challenges by dedicating the festival to the promotion of peace and national unity.

6. I therefore urge all and sundry to reflect upon and employ the virtues of our cultural heritage towards promoting understanding and peaceful co-existence as there is no alternative to peace if we must achieve the strategic plan of transforming and developing the country in the light of the expectations of the founding fathers.

7. Towards actualizing the theme of the festival, various events are on offer as part of NAFEST 2013. These include Traditional Dance Music, Traditional Furnished Apartment, Children’s Story Telling, Essay Writing and Painting Competitions while the other events include Arts and Craft Exhibition and Traditional Wrestling, the Book Fair, the Cultural Market and the Colloquium component.

8. Distinguished Gentlemen of the press, the Cultural Sector of this country has inherentt and abundant resources that can turn around the nation’s economy into a productive one for youth empowerment and job creation. For instance, the Cultural Market segment of NAFEST is designed to showcase cultural products and services, ranging from consumer to utilitarian products. This is a way of encouraging Nigerians to be productive and resourceful in our quest for development.

9. We believe that the cultural market will further enhance the exchange of ideas amongst our craftsmen and women in the production, marketing and promotion of cultural products and services, thus enhancing the economic viability of the cultural sector, increasing productivity, empowering our people and creating jobs.

10. Similarly, the Traditional Furnished Apartment will examine indigenous resources involved in interior decorations and encourage our people to look inwards for affordable household and furnishing materials, as well as create huge employment opportunities.

11. There are also the NAFEST DVD components which are designed to encourage the use of ICT facilities in the packaging our cultural products for global marketing purposes.

12. Gentlemen of the Press, in all these, your role will be to enlighten Nigerians on the festival events and objectives as stakeholders. We would welcome your contributions on the ways of improving our plans and programme for the benefit of our people. I therefore urge you to partner with us by propagating, projecting and beaming to the world the positive aspects of our values as a people and nation.

13. Based on various consultations and interaction and given the antecedents of Bayelsa State in hosting national and international events of similar magnitude, amongst which are the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) and the Most Beautiful Girl Pageant, I have no doubt in assuring you that the Government and good people of the State are fully prepared to host the nation, come Saturday, 14th-Sunday, 22nd September, 2013.

14. I therefore, commend and thank the Executive Governor of the host state, His Excellency, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson and members of his Executive Council, for their commitment to host the national unity forum, NAFEST, and for all they have done so far towards giving us a festival with a difference.

15. I equally commend all the stakeholders, at both the state and national levels, particularly the members of staff of the National Council for Arts and Culture, for all the preparations done so far.

16. Gentlemen of the press, I reserve very special praise for you. Certainly, the success achieved in the past editions could not have been possible without your cooperation and we thank you for it. I wish to remind you that your cooperation and support are indispensable, if we are to achieve similar and even greater resounding success with NAFEST 2013.

17. Particularly, we implore you to help in relaying to the nation, and indeed the world, the fact that NAFEST is not just a celebration but a platform on which to deploy our cultural resources towards addressing our various challenges of security, poverty and youth restiveness as it is the festival that unites the nation.

18. I thank you all.