JONATHAN1The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has described the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST), “the Unity Forum,” organised by National Council for Arts & Culture (NCAC), as a socio-cultural activity that promotes the rich cultural diversity and cross ethnic friendship among Nigerians.

President Jonathan, who started this during the opening ceremony of the 2014 edition of the  Festival  taking place in Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi State, identified culture and tourism as credible alternative to oil in revenue generation for Nigeria, having the capacity to provide 40% of the foreign direct investment (FDI) of the country.

The President, who was represented at the occasion by the Vice-President, Arch. Mohammed Namadi Sambo, described NAFEST 2014 as the reflection of the true Nigerian society, showing distinctively how organized the people were before colonization, adding that, the occasion avails Nigerians the opportunity to look inwards and harness our natural resources, as NAFEST 2014 was strategic in promoting our cherished culture and reference point as the most populous Black nation in the world.

Also speaking at the Unity Forum, which is scheduled from 19th – 26th Oct, 2014, the Ebonyi State Governor, Chief Martin Elechi described NAFEST as a bridge between tribes and a melting pot where cultures are harmonized and thanked President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for transforming the sector.

On his part, the Honourable Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke re-echoed the importance of culture in the development of human and material resources for the unity of the country, describing it as Nigeria’s potential non-oil export, which could create jobs for about 40% of Nigerians and increase the country’s foreign direct investment (FDI). 

He said that Nigerians should be proud of their culture because it is “only what you value that you will protect,” arguing that it was indisputable that culture is the driving force of all disciplines, hence the environmental determinism led to creative mind such as drawing, architecture, and so on.

According to him, culture is life which evolves and the society should be properly acculturated to the younger generation as an acceptable way of life which is subject to amendments to suit that particular generation and that it was on the bases of culture that all strata of the society revolved.  

The Minister further advised Nigerians to take the promotion of culture seriously for a stronger and more united nation, and praised the NCAC boss, Mrs. Dayo Keshi for celebrating the Centenary edition of  NAFEST, with the theme, “Celebrating  Nigeria at 100:  The Role  of  Culture  as a Vehicle for National Unity,” which was in tandem with the present Transformation Agenda.

Earlier, the Director-General, National Council for Art and Culture (NCAC) and Festival Director, Mrs. Dayo Keshi and the Chairman of the NCAC Governing Board, Professor Nelson Brambaifa, welcomed participants to the Centenary edition of NAFEST with the  theme, “Celebrating Nigeria at 100: The Role of Culture as a Vehicle for National Unity,” describing the  edition  as a springboard packaged to unlock the opportunities, which abound  in Nigeria and urged the participants to do their best at the various cultural events.

In her vote of thanks, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Mrs. Nkechi Ejele, thanked all state contingents, especially the host, Ebonyi State, for their high level of preparation, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, for the support and other sister agencies in the culture sector for their encouragement which had made the festival a huge success.

The opening ceremony was spiced by various state cultural groups with scintillating artistic and displays by various groups that filled the stadium to capacity and making Abakaliki, the state capital to be bubbling with fanfare. 

It will be recalled that the week-long event started with a Colloquium on the 19th October with other activities like Traditional Children’s Story Telling on 21st October and Essay/Painting Competitions on 22nd October.

Kingsley Ngoka

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO Enugu State Office