By Iduozee Paul, Benin
The Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has commended participants from the 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja for partaking in the 2019 National Festival for Arts and Culture (NAFEST) hosted for the first time after 40 years in the state.
Theme of the event was, “Our Royalty, Our Pride”.
The governor made the commendation while declaring the ceremony open at the University of Benin Mini Stadium in Benin City. He said history has finally been made as the festival which was first held 40 years ago, has been brought to the home of culture for the first time.
He noted the importance of culture as a veritable tool for national development as it helps to unify its people.
“Today, we are celebrating in Edo State because 40 years after this festival was launched now it is coming to the home of culture for the first time.
“Is Edo not the home of culture in Nigeria? Is Edo not the home of culture in Africa? For the first time, we are hosting this event, is Edo not the home of culture?” he asked.
The state commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Osemwingie Ero, said the state is fortunate to have been hosting the 32nd National Festival for Arts and Culture (NAFEST) for the first time.
Outlining activities lined up for the event and their venues, he said the governor has carefully chosen Igun Street as one of the places the ceremony will take place due to its significance to the history of the Benin Kingdom as the governor pushes earnestly for the return of the Bini stolen artifacts during the 1897 invasion of the empire by the British.
Obaseki also assured the contingents of a peaceful stay as the state is known as the home of culture.
Director-General of National Arts and Culture, Mr. Otumba Orunsewe, who said the day was not for speeches but to be merry as God loves Nigeria.
Orunsewe said from all indications, Nigerians have every reason to celebrate as the country, Nigeria would be great again.
“God loves Nigeria. Tell the next person close to you that Nigeria will be great again”, he announced.
Also, member, representing Oredo Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, Hon. Ogbeide Ihama, thanked the state government for hosting the event.He said the state was lucky to have won the right to host the festival after five states bidded for the right and eventually lost to Edo State.
Hon Ihama said as he member chairing the committee on Arts and Culture at the National Assembly, his own duty is to support and promote culture and tourism in the country.