Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has called on Nigerians to use the forthcoming National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) to project the country’s unity.
He also implored Nigerians to see their diversity, ethnicity and religious tolerance as an opportunity to unite without allowing politics and other things to divide them.
Governor Sanwo-Olu made the appeal when the National Technical Committee of the National Festival of Arts and Culture, led by the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, paid him a courtesy visit at Lagos House, Ikeja on Thursday, July 28, 2022, ahead of NAFEST 2022, which holds in the state from November 7 to 13.
He said bringing NAFEST to Lagos at this very difficult time in the country is an opportunity for the festival to be “used as a means to galvanise the country. The NAFEST 2022 in Lagos by the grace of God will be used to heal this country. It will be used to bring together our diversity in unity.”
According to him, “if sports can bring us together, arts, culture and entertainment can do better. And if we do it and package it very well before we go into the general elections in 2023, we would have used that platform to heal the country. We would have used it for people to see that we don’t have any other place to go to. We have a responsibility to fix it (Nigeria).
“We should see the NAFEST not just as a festivity but as an opportunity for us to come together, heal and project unity for our country. And ensure that if we can go into next year with all of the tribulations and fears that we have; we will suppress them, surpass them and have elections that will be free, and peaceful, and we can build a better and bigger nation that would be the envy of the world. That is what I am looking forward to.”
“Let us see our diversity as an opportunity to unite us. Let us see our ethnicity as an opportunity to unite us. Let us see our religious tolerance as an opportunity to unite us. We should not allow politics and other things to divide us. I am a strong believer of arts, culture and entertainment as a unifier and simple language that knows no tribe, ethnicity and religious bias.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu also disclosed that Lagos State, apart from hosting NAFEST in November, would also commission the biggest and best African museum, the JK Randle Museum for Arts and Culture and host the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and art exhibition in November.
Runsewe commended Governor Sanwo-Olu’s commitment to promoting tourism, arts and culture, noting that the decision of the government to make Entertainment and Tourism a fifth pillar in the six-pillar THEMES developmental agenda for Greater Lagos is commendable.
Runsewe said the festival would be used to unite the nation and preach love among all the citizens of the country.
After a critical assessment of issues, state of the sector, deliberations and suggestions, the technical meeting resolved as follows:
“States and stakeholders should continue to mobilise interests to sustain the various National cultural programmes so that government can understand the importance of the sector to national development;
“that government and the legislature at all levels should as a matter of urgency put proper legislation in place to accord culture its proper place within the framework of national development;
“that Government at all levels should make more budgetary commitment to cultural and tourism promotion as a tool for enhancing national unity, improving employment generation and promoting international relationships;
“the need for more synergy and cooperation between Cultural Agencies for greater and more sustainable gains was emphasized, with particular reference to CBAAC’s Memo concerning the 45th Anniversary celebration of FESTAC ’77
“participants called for the reintroduction and teaching of Nigerian History, Fine and Applied Arts in our school curriculum as a means of understanding and appreciating the Nigerian brand, encourage productivity and an all-round development of youths;
“the need for all Art councils across the nation to begin an urgent and proper archiving (electronic and all otherwise) of our cultural practices so as to separate the spiritual from the performative available for public consumption, as this is key to growing cultural tourism business in Nigeria;
“participants adopted November 7 to 13, 2022 as the date for EKO NAFEST 2022 in Lagos State.”
They also ratified the investiture of the wife of Lagos State Governor, Dr. (Mrs.) Ibijoke Sanwoolu, as “Mama Nafest”
Finally, participants expressed their profound appreciation to the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwoolu and the entire people of Lagos State for accepting to host the 35th edition of NAFEST and for the technical meeting.