By Gabriel Enogholase
BENINâ€”TWENTY FOUR years after the then Bendel State hosted the last festival of arts and culture, Edo State government has disclosed that plans were at advanced stage to host the first Edo Festival of Arts and Culture, tagged Edo-FEST 2009, on Private Public Partnership Initiative (PPPI) basis in November 2009.
In an enlarged meeting of pre-planning committee in Benin yesterday, the state Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Vincent Akhere, who stood in for the state governor, Adams Oshiomhole, said the festival would be a prelude to series of programmes aimed at reviving the stateâ€™s lost glory in the area of arts and culture.
Mr. Akhere said that Comrade Oshiomhole was very desirous of reviving the cultural heritage of Edo people to ensure that the state remained the cultural destination of Nigeria, adding to this end, the state government wants to collaborate with the private sector in the organization of the festival.
Would be sponsors of the festival, it was further gathered, would be given incentives and other benefits.
Consequent upon this, it was learnt that commercial banks and multinational companies are already rushing to be part of the event.
Mr. Akhere said the festival would likely hold by November when the administration of Oshiomhole would clock one year in office.
He said the state government was making arrangement to give the Oba Akenzua Cultural Centre, the dilapidated Ogbe stadium a facelift in preparation for the event, just as he added that Obaâ€™s palace, the National Museum and Monuments ground, KingSqaure, Benin, would also host some events.
â€œThis administration is committed to the revival of the rich cultural heritage of the state and we will also use the festival to harness our culture and tourism endowmentâ€, he said, adding that he had had fruitful discussions with local government council chairmen through the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) to key into the project.
Some notable Nollywood actors, such as Alex Osifo and Francis Duru as well as representative of Reggae star, Orits Wilikki, and representative of the Edo state chapter of Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria were at the meeting.
â€œOver 20 banks have approached the state government for sponsorship and packaging. The festival is to sell the state to the international community. We want to surpass Eyo festival in Lagos and the TINAPA showâ€, Akhere said.