March 12, 2020

Return of Argungu festival proof of enhancedeSecurity – Buhari

Return of Argungu festival proof of enhancedeSecurity – Buhari

…Says Nigeria Has capacity to Solve its Problems

By Emmanuel Elebeke

President Muhammadu Buhari says the reemergence of Argungu Agricultural and Fishing Festival after 11 years of suspension, and other international festivals across the country are proof of more confidence in improved security.

The President Buhari who spoke at the Festival in Argungu, Kebbi State assured that the Federal Government will sustain investments in security infrastructure to boost cultural tourism, and attract more investments in the entertainment industry.

Also speaking on the Argungu Agricultural Fair, the President noted that insecurity in the country created a break in tourism and entertainment for many years, with ripple effects on the economy, by restricting movements, gatherings and investments, promising to promote policies that will stimulate more interest in tourism and entertainment.

Recall that the Argungu Fishing and Cultural festival was put on hold in 2009 for security reasons until this year when the government restored it.

“Our presence here today is evidence of Government’s commitment to restoring security and expanding domestic food production as core mandate of our programmes.

“We are all aware that this important cultural gathering was suspended for 11 years as a result of insecurity.  Today, by the grace of God, this festival is back and I hope back for good.

“We are not only celebrating the reinstatement of this important gathering, but we are also celebrating the remarkable progress made in restoring peace and security to this region and indeed, our country. It is also noteworthy that yesterday in Abuja a motor rally across five states, which will terminate here in Argungu, was flagged off,’’  said the President.

He further noted that many international festivals, such as the Argungu Fishing and Cultural Festival, were being celebrated across the country, bringing all Nigerians closer together and improving collective appreciation of the nation’s diversity, while projecting the rich history and culture to foreigners.

According to him, the government focused on food security by investing in programmes that will stimulate more interest in agriculture, improve system of farming, highlighting some of the achievements since 2015 to include return of paddy pyramids and multi-billion naira rice mills.

“In both instances, massive jobs are created in the tourism sector, which we all agree is still not fully developed. We must therefore continue to encourage, support and promote such festivals.

“Let me use this opportunity to commend Governor of Kebbi State, His Highness, Emir of Argungu, Minister of Information and Culture, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria and members of the organising committee at the local, state and federal levels for this remarkable event.’’

“Furthermore, you will all recall that our food security program started here in Kebbi back in 2015. The many products displayed here are also proof of the progress we have made as a nation in feeding ourselves. The farming, fishing and pastoral communities truly embraced our programmes and have proven that we can produce what we need.

“We established the National Food Security Council, which I Chair, supported by the Governor of this State, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, to ensure that all our successes to date are continuously improved upon.

“I thank the people of Kebbi State for your support to the Governor as he embarked on this very important national assignment,’’ he added.

Commending private sector sponsors and international development partners for supporting the 60th Argungu Fishing and Cultural Festival, the President said Nigerians have the capacity to solve the challenges facing the country.

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“For our farmers, fishing communities, those in the livestock sector and agro entrepreneurs, you have truly made me proud. We shall continue to support you all with access to credit, adequate inputs, access to markets and policies that will promote and support your competitiveness.’’

Earlier in his remarks, the Governor of Kebbi State, Sen. Atiku Bagudu expressed gratitude to President Buhari for reviving the suspended annual festival with “we can do it’’ spirit in the agricultural sector, which he said has resulted in rising grain pyramids and employment, and providing an enabling environment  for festivals, like the  Argungu Fishing and Cultural Festival, to resume.

“We are not allowing those who do not wish us well to define who we are.’’

In the like manner, the Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Sama’ila Muhammad Mera, lauded  President for the bold step he took in closing the land borders, which according to him clearly showed his penchant to always pursue national interest.

The 2020 Argungu Agricultural Fair is part of activities at the 60th Argungu Fishing and Cultural Festival, which is a UNESCO World Heritage event.

The event attracted participants and competitors from within and outside Africa.

Some of the activities that featured in the festival included: horse race, camel race, Men bare hand Fishing competition, Boys bare hand Fishing competition; Canoe race, Water relays, Swimming on Gourd, Driving competition, Power Bike race among others.

Also on display were agricultural produce such as rice, millet, sorghum, honey; cassava and water melon, onions as well as aquatic and land animals.

Highlight of the event was inspection of Mini-Durbar carnival by President Buhari and announcement of a woman farmer as the overall winner of agricultural contest with N9million and a   car jeep prizes.