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Gov. Obaseki declares Edo NAFEST 2019 open

…says culture has returned home to Edo State

By Osa Amaadi, Arts Editor

Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, yesterday declared open the 32nd edition of the National Festival of Arts and Culture, NAFEST, being hosted this year by Edo State. The ceremony took place at the University of Benin, Edo State.

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Governor Godwin Obaseki

Governor Obaseki who performed the opening ceremony in conjunction with the pop-music star, 2 Face Idibia whom he described as “our face of culture and music” said NAFEST, by coming to Edo State 40 years after its inception, culture has returned home:

“Today we are celebrating in Edo State because 40 years after this festival was launched the festival is coming to the home of culture for the first time. Is Edo not the home of culture in Nigeria?” the Governor asked the large audience who responded with a resounding “Yes!”

“We are very happy to host this NAFEST,” the governor continued, “because this festival is a bond of unity for Nigeria. Culture is a mould for uniting our people.”

After his brief speech, Gov Obaseki invited the Director-General of National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, to present the traditional NAFEST Calabash which had since replaced tape-cutting as a way of declaring NCAC-organised national events open. Gov Obaseki also invited back to the stage, 2 Face Idibia, who had already performed few of his electrifying songs.

After the Gov Obaseki had opened the calabash with these words; “On behalf of all of you and the good people of Nigeria, I have the singular honour and pleasure to open this National Festival of Arts and Culture, Edo NAFEST 2019, to the grace of God”, the stage was handed over to 2 Face Idibia.

Earlier in his opening speech, the DG of National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe, had described NAFEST as not only the flagship programme of the council, but also the foremost cultural festival in Nigeria: “Every edition of the festival focuses on a specific issue of our national life as we seek to find solutions to the challenges of nation-building.

The theme of this 32nd edition of the festival is “Our Royalty, Our Pride” and it was evolved, among others, to celebrate the Royalty in Nigeria and to underscore the critical roles our royal fathers must play in the task of restoring the glory of our cultural heritage and also using culture as a tool for driving rapid socio-economic development.

“Part of the vision of the current management of the National Council for Arts and Culture,” Runsewe continued, “is to make culture a key player in the nation’s economy, capable of creating mass employment and empowering the people in line with the economic diversification policy of the Buhari’s administration. It is in the light of this that we have expanded the scope of NAFEST to include skill acquisition programme,” said Runsewe.

Earlier, a prominent son of Edo State and legendary highlife music maestro who was also a former commissioner for Arts & Culture, Dr Victor Uwaifor, had shaken the pavilion with unfading, skilful performances of his evergreen songs.

The Edo NAFEST 2019 continues till October 26.

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