In preparation for the hosting of this yearâ€™s National Festival of Art and Culture (NAFEST), Governor Babangida Aliyu has said that projecting the rich cultural heritage will be central to a successful rebranding project of the nation.
While tasking the nation to embrace the dynamic nature of her culture, the governor said that with endemic poverty confronting the masses, the country cannot have progress and sustainable development.
Governor Aliyu who said this in Minna at the opening ceremony of the 32nd meeting of the Chief Executives of Culture of the Federation disclosed to journalists that security has been beefed up in readiness for the biggest West African festival of arts and culture billed to start on 3rd of October and runs through 13th October this year.
The governor said the crises which recently rocked some states in the North should not be a barrier for the 36 states and FCT as well as foreign participants from participation as the State has made security a top priority ,adding that Niger State since 1976 had never experienced any such mayhem.
The 2009 edition of NAFEST according to the Governor will provide the opportunity for the people to appreciate the role of culture in promoting national unity and social integration tasking the stakeholders to use the meeting as a preparatory ground for a most eventful festival which would create windows of investments opportunities for the nationâ€™s economic growth and prosperity.
Dr Aliyu assured that the State is fully prepared to host artists and has put all the necessary facilities in place to ensure that the State maximizes every opportunity at the festival adding that Logo revelation and Strategy to the event would be launched formally on the 27th of August, 2009 in Abuja.
The governor who said the state has generated about N650 million from conference tourism disclosed that the State is set to make about N100 million before the year runs out from the sector.
This yearâ€™s outing promises to be an outstanding one, as the State Ministry of Tourism and Culture is campaigning for support three month before time. The ministry is of the view that the country needs to be proud of her rich arts and cultural heritage giving it all the support needed which goes a long way to changing western perception to her culture.
The state commissioner of Tourism and Culture, Umar Muhammed Nasko said the forum is a unifying factor, a period of consolidation of gains and a tool for promoting the rich cultural potentials and assets of the country Nigeria .
All the venues for competitive and non-competitive events are gradually taking shape, accommodation and other facilities to be used for the event are also being made to conform to the demands of all categories of participants.
He assured the Chief executives of the stateâ€™s resolve to make this yearâ€™s event a memorable one considering the unprecedented attention given to culture and tourism by the present administration of the governor who has vowed to put Niger State in its proper place by redesigning and reforming the sector in the state. According to him, â€œcultural fiesta such as NAFEST is an essential component of tourism which pulls people from within and outside the country. It is an exciting event which brings about peaceful co-existence despite the difference in societal and religious backgrounds of the peopleâ€.
Also, the Director General of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NACA), Mr. M.M Maidugu said the meeting of the Chief Executives was as a result of the decision taken by the council to consolidate arrangements towards having a hitch free NAFEST 2009.
He said the event is designed with the objective to serve as a tool for promoting social integrity, unity and peace. It is a forum for talent hunt and skill development in the arts, crafts, technology and culture.
According to him, â€œagainst this background, it is apparent that the relevance of the festival continues to grow, especially with the present economic situation. From our experiences, we are yet to see any cultural manifestations that are as diverse and rich as that of Nigeria â€.
NAFEST being the Nigeria â€™s biggest and most popular cultural event that parades all thirty six States of Nigeria, including Abuja the Federal Capital Territory , since 1970 it started, has been organized annually by the National Council for Arts and Culture in collaborations with other relevant agencies. It is used as a platform to showcase the countryâ€™s rich cultural heritage, unite and expose the various ethnic groups to each other in order to create harmonious and peaceful co-existence in the country.