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National arts festival promotes cultural heritage, unity —Lai Mohammed

National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) has been identified as one of the major rallying points for promoting rich cultural values across different ethnic groups and veritable tool for enhancing tourism potentials of the nation towards boosting its revenue base.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed stated this at the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) with the theme ‘’Exploring the Goldmine Inherent in Nigeria’s Creative Industries’’, held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

The Minister represented by the Permanent Secretary for Arts and Culture, Mrs Yetunde Adeshugba, disclosed that the festival, which started in 1970, had been a veritable medium for projecting the nation’s cultural heritage.

According to him, ‘’It is a platform invented to strengthen and unite us’’, adding that with the decline in oil revenue, tourism portends another lucrative means for revitalising the nation’s economy.

Speaking at the event, the host and Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Udom Emmanuel disclosed that the festival was a rallying point for talent hunt, creativity, exchange of ideas, skills and techniques for cultural integration.

The Governor who was represented by his Deputy, Mr Moses Ekpo said the nation’s ethnic diversity had elicited the cultural festivals which had enhanced national cohesion.

The Director General and Festival Director (NAFEST) 2016, Mrs. Dayo Keshi, said that the festival was poised to entrench unity amongst all ethnic groups in the country to permeate synergy between stakeholders and organisers towards increasing the revenue base of the nation.

Speaking to newsmen during the festival, the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Ogun State, Basorun Muyiwa Oladipo said that the festival was designed to converge 36 states in Nigeria to promote the nation’s cultural heritage, saying the nation was endowed with natural resources and tourist sites capable of enhancing its socio-economic development.

Highlight of the event included, indigenous poet performance, wrestling for junior category, arts and crafts, drama amongst others where Ogun State won the first prizes in drama performance, Art and craft.  Akwa Ibom won the prize in the indigenous poet performance while Bayelsa State went home with junior traditional wrestling prize and the Golden gun.