Director General of the National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe has charged Nigeria’s traditional institutions to help support and preserve cultures across the country in a bid to promote national unity and development.

Otunba Segun Runsewe, Director-General, National Council for Arts & Culture.

The NCAC boss gave the charge at a press conference in Abuja yesterday to flag off the awareness campaign for National Festival Of Arts And Culture tagged ‘EDO NAFEST 2019.’

While explaining that this year’s festival taking place in Edo State will be done in collaboration with the Oba of Benin’s palace, Runsewe said this is in furtherance of the centrality of Benin Monarchy to the socio-cultural activities of the state.

According to him, “as the custodians of our culture, the traditional institution has the responsibility to preserve our rich cultural heritage and propagate our cherished values such as love, respect for elders, constituted authorities and for the sanity of the human life, honesty, discipline, work ethics, neighbourliness, community spirit among others. It is our conviction that the progressive deterioration of these values over the years is partly responsible for the crisis of national unity and the under-development our nation is currently facing.

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“It is in the light of the above that we have incorporated Royalty Day as one of the components of this year’s edition of the festival.

”Accordingly, representatives of the contingents from all the participating states shall be paying homage to His Royal Majesty in the course of the festival. In addition to this, a Special Royal Exhibition depicting the grandeur of Benin Royalty shall be mounted throughout the period of the festival to reflect the richness and glamour of the Benin traditional institution.”

Runsewe said the mandate of NCAC is to preserve, promote and market Nigerian Arts and Culture, stressing that as such, “We cannot effectively do this without active and sustained engagement with our royal fathers who are the custodians of our culture.”

It stands to reason therefore that we must begin to work in close collaboration with the traditional institutions in Nigeria.”

He pleaded with all traditional rulers in Nigeria to collaborate with the National Council for Arts and Culture in the task of “reviving the nation’s cherished cultural heritage and using our culture as a springboard for driving the process of national development. It was Marcus Garvey who once said that a people without the knowledge of their culture are like a tree without roots. Our culture is inevitably the building blocks for our national development.”

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While reviewing the success of past events, the NCAC DG said “since my assumption of office at the Council, I have made concerted efforts in repositioning NAFEST, not only as a platform for propagating peace and national cohesion but also as a means of impacting on the life of the people. This, I have done by expanding the scope, content and reach of the festival. For example, Free Skill Acquisition training, Waste to Wealth and Free Medical Screening are some of the new components I have introduced to the festival to add value to NAFEST and empower the people while fulfilling our corporate social responsibility.

“The popularity and patronage of the festival have also significantly improved. In the 2017 edition held in Kaduna, Kaduna State, a spectacular Durbar Show was staged at the instance of the Emir of Zauzzau who was personally present at the opening ceremony along with a retinue of chiefs from the Zauzzau Emirate Council. Rivers 2018 NAFEST witnessed unprecedented participation of three sitting Governors. These were the host Governor, the Governor of Abia State as well as the Governor of Ebonyi State.”

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He expressed confidence that EDO NAFEST 2019 won’t be an exception. “I am confident and happy to remark that we are determined to build on the gains of the last two years. The Executive Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has affirmed his commitment towards making Edo 2019 a most historic moment for NAFEST. Indeed, Edo 2019 promises to be unique in all respect. Edo State has a very rich and diverse cultural heritage dating back to several centuries. As one of the most celebrated destinations for arts and culture, Edo State is reputed to be the cultural hub of Nigeria and Africa at large. The ancient Benin kingdom, with its distinctive arts and crafts products, rich festivals rendered in songs, poetry, incantations, royal dances and so on, has remained a cultural base and reference point of culture all over the world.”

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