The President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has commended the choice of “Culture, Peace and National Transformation,” as the theme of the 27th edition of the National Festival of Arts & Culture (NAFEST), which was geared toward the promotion of peace and national unity in addition to growing the culture industry for economic empowerment, adding that the choice was not only timely but suitable to our national focus considering the determination and concerted efforts of the present administration to transform Nigeria.
Dr. Jonathan, who stated this, Tuesday, 17th September, 2013, while declaring open NAFEST 2013 at the Samson Siasia Stadium, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, used the opportunity to urge Nigerians to leverage on the NAFEST platform in tapping and promoting the virtues of our cultural heritage, which abhors vices such as violence and indolence but encourages hard-work, peaceful co-existence and national integration.
The President, who was represented at the occasion by the Executive Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, added that as the country moves towards the peak of the celebration of the Centenary, it is the collective duty of Nigerians to emphasize those values that bind them together and contribute towards achieving the dreams of the founding fathers.
According to him, the Federal Government believes that a proper grasp of the people’s culture enhances understanding and good governance at all levels, adding that his administration believes that for tourism to make significant contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it must be driven by the people’s cultural heritage.
He noted that the Federal Government, under his leadership, was happy with the success of Nollywood, which had given Nigeria a good image in the international arena and this also was attracting the desired global attention to the country’s culture, and pledged that his administration will continue to pay special attention to the culture sector in his Transformation Agenda.
Earlier, the Honourable Minister for Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, High Chief Edem Duke, had stated that NAFEST, the unity forum, was a festival that unites the Nigerian nation, and that it had taken its pride of place as a platform that celebrates the values of the country’s cultural heritage in a unique way.
Chief Duke averred that his leadership has relentlessly pursued the collective desire to repackage, refocus and reposition the culture and tourism sector in line with the Transformation Agenda of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, adding that the ministry has been able to identify and harness those components of the Arts and Culture industry that will facilitate job creation for the teeming youths and women.
While reflecting on the theme for this year’s NAFEST, the Minister charged stakeholders to actively engage themselves in using the nation’s various and unique cultural products to build peace and transform the country politically, economically and socially, in the march towards achieving Vision 20: 2020.
Commending President Jonathan for his unflinching interest and support for the growth of the culture and tourism sector, Duke reaffirmed the commitment of the Ministry, under his leadership, to be continually linked to Mr. President’s drive to make a difference in governance and service delivery in the country, even as the culture sector focuses on developing its creative resources to factor into the Transformation Agenda.
He also used the opportunity to commend the painstaking commitment of Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, the Executive Governor of Bayelsa State and other State Governors, towards supporting cultural activities in their various states, particularly for facilitating the participation of contingents at NAFEST 2013.
Meanwhile, the Gloryland Cultural Centre, Ovom-Yenagoa, is a beehive of activities, as more than 2,000 artists from the participating states are savouring the ambience of the ultra-modern complex, which is hosting most of the events.