Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has emphasised the importance of culture in uniting Nigeria and a source of revenue for the country. 

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 34th edition of NAFEST (National Festival of Arts and Culture) at Ekiti Parapo Pavilion in the state capital, Ado-Ekiti, on Monday, the state governor said the state government was happy to host this year’s NAFEST “because this festival is a bond of unity for us as a nation. Culture is a glue for uniting our people, and it allows for various forms of talent expression.”

Governor Fayemi said the event  marked another fulfilment in the aspiration of the state to attract global attention and bring many stakeholders in the culture, tourism and creative world to the Land of Honour.

“I have no doubt that the economic, cultural and creative fortunes of Ekiti State will improve through this unique festival,” he said.

 Apart from sports, NAFEST, he said, “is another unique platform for the 36 States of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory to meet, showcase and promote Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage and diversity. This has further shown our unity in diversity, and I am happy to celebrate the festival as the Host Governor of the 34th edition.”

His administration, he said, had invested in the development of culture far beyond the performative and creative aspects.

“We have gone beyond the development of physical infrastructure to promote our cultural projects which have placed us in good stead to host such an auspicious festival as this. We have taken the development of culture to the realm of cultural re-orientation, attitudinal change and value orientation,” he said.

While informing that core cultural values of Ekiti people had been included in the state’s educational curriculum to be taught in primary and post-primary schools across the state, he said that affirmed the government’s belief in culture as “an instrument of  change, capable of transforming our society and changing our socio-political and economic narratives for the better.”

He said further that “the critical state of our nation requires that efforts be intensified to revive our diverse culture and enhance the potential of our arts to ensure social and political stability, both of which hinge on the viability of the economy.

“The burden of our national commitments which has rested solely on the performance of our crude oil in the international market has continued to render the nation immobile. This calls for an innovative solution.   Investing in culture is crucial to the general development of any society. Culture impacts on economic growth by strengthening social virtues, creating trust which facilitates relationships and inspiring motivation that stimulates entrepreneurship.”

As a country with diverse cultures, he called on Nigeria to take advantage of the innate strength in our diversity, and our human and natural resources, to build a united, just and prosperous country for the present and future generations. We have a rich culture that can be used to advance the nation’s economy, if properly harnessed.”

The National Festival of Arts and Culture will feature drama competition, traditional board game competition, archery, free skill acquisition, children storytelling and puppetry competition, Nigerian fabric decoration competition, traditional cuisine competition, traditional fabric fashion competition, golf tournament, among others. It closes on Saturday, November 20, 2021.

NAFEST is organised by the National Council for Arts and Culture led by Otunba Runsewe, the Director General, who assured that the festival would be used to unite Nigeria.