Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has linked Nigeria’s unity to the cultural diversity of its peoples, adding that beyond oil, tourism harbours immense potentials for the nation’s growth and development.
Osinbajo, who was in Edo State to participate in the 2019 National Festival for Arts and Culture (NAFEST) hosted by the state, visited the palace of the Oba of Benin, His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II.
The Vice President also had an interactive session/ town hall meeting with market women, religious leaders, artists, traditional rulers, students and concerned citizens of the state at the Oba Akenzua Cultural Center.
Osinbajo, who was received by the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, his deputy, Philip Shuaibu and other executive members of the state at the Benin Airport, commended the governor for his efforts in repositioning Edo State as the foremost destination for investment and tourism.
Obaseki said his administration is committed to leveraging on the state’s cultural capital to drive investment in the tourism sector, noting that tourism is one of the key pillars of his administration’s agenda.
He said NAFEST has provided the platform for Edo State to showcase its cultural heritage to the world, adding, “We have great value to offer to the world in terms of Art and Culture. We believe that within our tradition, we possess a culture of tools with which we will possibly change our future for the better.
“Benin is already on the map of heritage sites in the world and the next level for my administration is to translate these cultural assets into a hub to attract international tourists’ traffic. For us, entering the next level means manifesting the greatness of Edo State through tourism as one of the pathways of sustainable growth and prosperity in the post-oil future.”
Obaseki said culture and tourism is a powerful tool for progress, noting that his administration believes in the power of culture in bringing people together.
He added, “Culture is a uniting force and when we dig deep into the treasure of our heritage, we will find a means to achieve unity in diversity.”
Earlier, the Vice President noted that Edo State Government is pursuing a cultural agenda which includes the recovery of its lost treasures across the world, describing Benin City as a “veritable citadel of culture and an ancient city in the seats of splendour with the finest cultural tradition”.
He said, “As we diversify our economy and move our nation beyond the oil economy, tourism is clearly one sector which has the untold potential for growth. Edo State is blazing a trail in this direction. The governor has rightly prioritised Art and Culture, by showcasing its rich heritage. Edo State will attract global attraction for the right reasons.”
Osinbajo, however, congratulated the Oba of Benin on his birthday and third-year coronation anniversary, praying for a long life and good health for the traditional ruler.
“We are here in Benin to celebrate the National Art of Festival and culture (NAFEST) taking place in your Kingdom and it is special because is the center of culture. I am sure we will have the best of NAFEST in Edo State,” he said.