By Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu – Benin City
It was a colourful ceremony at the University of Benin Sports Complex when the 2019 National Festival for Arts and Culture tagged NAFEST 2019 opened were the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NACA), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe and Governor Godwin Obaseki called for Nigeria to use the festival to promote unity in the country.
Not less than 28 states of the country are participating in the one-week-long ceremony.
Runsewe who was obviously overwhelmed with the turnout and colourful event said “Today is not a speech-making day, you can see the turnout and the colourful display of art and culture from all over the country. God loves Nigeria, there is no need for us to despair, did you see the beauty of Nigeria in the display; the military display military operation and civil activities, we need to work and remain together”
On his part, Governor Obaseki said culture unites Nigeria and that it was a privilege that the festival is in Edo during his administration. “Today we are celebrating in Edo state because 40 years this festival was inaugurated, it is coming to the home of culture. We are very happy to host this festival because for us with culture, Nigeria is united”
On his part, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Culture and Tourism, Hon Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama said the festival coincided with the third year anniversary of the Benin monarch, Oba Ewuare II and his birthday and that he fought to ensure that Edo state got the hosting right the fact that he was not sure whether he would to the house as chairman of the committee.
The opening ceremony climaxed with a colourful display of the Women Corps of the Nigerian Army and the Brigade of Guards. Popular artist, Innocent Idibia popularly called Tuface.
The seven-day cultural show would hold at four different venues in the ancient city, namely; Oba’s Palace, UNIBEN Sports Complex, Benin Golf Club and Oba Akenzua Cultural Centre.
The state commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Osemwengie Ero, had said the festival would provide further cultural integration among the states of the federation. He said festival with the theme: “Our Royalty, Our Pride” signifies the pride and dignity of Benin and that 500, 000 visitors from the 36 states of the federation, including the FCT and six counties, are expected to participate in this year’s edition of the NAFEST.