Ekiti NAFEST 2021: Uniting Nigerians through sports and culture

6 days ago 14

GLOBALLY, there are different events that have always been a rallying point to unify people for a common goal, irrespective of their colour, language, culture and socio-political differences. And the bond that exists during such events has proved that the world has more to do together than separately.

Olympics and other global festivals are examples of events that have continued to build bridge of togetherness among comity of nations- which informed UNWTO’s adoption of sports and culture as a priority sector to promote and sustain peaceful coexistence among the diverse people of the world.

Similarly, the National Festival for Arts and Culture (NAFEST) is a pivot that has used sports and culture to continue to engage and unite Nigerians through different activities.

The 34th edition of NAFEST, no doubt, painted a larger picture of who we are as diverse people with common goals and aspirations as well as the ingenuity of the ethnic groups in the six geopolitical zones and Abuja, compared to the unpalatable narratives that perpetually want to tear Nigeria apart.

NAFEST has proven beyond reasonable doubt that, the event is not about the minority but majority. It has also showed that we stand a better chance of ruling the world together than standing alone.

From the spectacular opening ceremony to the alluring closing event and the other activities that run in between, Nigeria can only be described as the people the world is waiting for.

NAFEST has become a rallying point for business activities and entrepreneurship skills and capacity building, where newer hundreds of persons are trained to not only become skillfully engaged but also become employers of labour, thereby reducing the unemployment gap to the barest minimum.  Also, children and youths were given priority roles in the 34th edition of NAFEST as they were engaged in all activities featured at the one-week event.

Impressively, the youths and children performances were the spectacle at all the events at the NAFEST.

Speaking exclusively with Travelpulse&MICE on the sidelines of the states’ story telling competition at the Ekiti Civic and Conference Centre in Ado Ekiti, the trio of the National President of Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN), Mr Nkereuwem Onung, his first deputy, Aliyu Badaki, and a board of trustees member of the federation and organiser of Akwaaba African Travel Market (AfTM), Ambassador Ikechi Uko, all thumbed up the dynamic nature of NAFEST, giving expert advice on ways of consolidating on the brand product for sustainability.

Leading the remark, Onung said “For now, NAFEST is the biggest cultural festival in Nigeria. It is a big national event, and sometime you wonder if this can happen for tourism. We came here and we saw vehicles that belong to cultural troupes from different states of the federation. Do we have that for tourism? But this is a good event, and for us as we always say, we need culture to power tourism.

“You can see from the litany of people that are here for the NAFEST. There should be a tourism aspect of this event to enable us put the whole things , then it becomes a phenomenon. We need to congratulate Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, the DG of NCAC, and the government of Ekiti State for accepting to host NAFEST.

“We hope the state will take the opportunity of what has happened here and improve facilities to make sure that things that will promote tourism are made well. What we actually need is the will to promote culture and tourism in Nigeria.

“However, there may be few lapses in the preparations, but NAFEST is a good one for tourism and culture in Nigeria.”

In his remarks, Uko described NAFEST as a big product that had truly been nurtured by the NCAC to a very enviable level.

“Now, NAFEST is a product and is MICE (Meetings Incentives, Conferences Exhibitions and Events). So, what we need to do is to put the structure around the product that delivers the tourists.

“NCAC has created a product and NAFEST is a perfect product. What remains for us is to put the structure around the product to deliver the tourists; that is what is missing.

“But again, pleasant problems also tell good stories; we have problem getting hotel to stay, that means NAFEST has an economic impact on the city (Ado Ekiti). That is a big story, but we need to grow it bigger.

“Next year’s edition should have an elaborate tourism project, not to be done by NCAC, but the council will provide the platform, while there should be an institution around it, to bring the tourists, deliver value and bring the experiences. The product is ready; the product is wonderful.”

On his take on the value chain, Amb Uko said “quite a lot of people benefitted. First of all, we‘ve talked about the hotel. We are looking for bush meat to eat and palm wine to drink.

Everybody in the neighbourhood benefitted from the visit of NAFEST. This is just like the Calabar Carnival, which at a point needs to be marketed and produced in such a manner to develop and deliver value all the way from the top to the bottom of the value chain.”

The First Deputy President, FTAN, Badaki, said: “Looking at the setting at the various venues and going by the organisation, you would think this is not Nigeria that you know. This is more than the bad narrative people carry around.

“You can see we are one family; the contingents from the various states are happy. We were at the children event the previous day; it was a wonderful show that tells you that we are one Nigeria. For NAFEST and the organiser, it is laudable to see the whole Nigeria in Ekiti.

“But again, we need the governors that have the capacity and interest of tourism at heart. Bringing these people is not enough, but providing an enabling environment in terms of infrastructure.

“You can see that we don’t have enough hotels. People are scrambling to get a place to stay and this event has been on for a long time, and from what I am seeing, the governments have not shown full interest in it. If government rededicates interest to the event, the downtrodden will enjoy from the dividend; hotels, restaurants, entrepreneurs and other people rendering ancillary services will benefit from the event. You can see the market these cultural activities have created in Ekiti.

“Going around the exhibition stands, you can see that people are networking and buying and selling is going on everywhere. NAFEST has brought a big business to Ekiti State and the multiplier effect is enormous. This is great, and we need to commend the director-general of the NCAC, Otunba Runsewe, and his team for putting up such an event.

“For the next year’s edition, I urge that emphasis should be put on certain infrastructure, especially hotels, to accommodate people; security and transportation and other key facilities. But sincerely speaking, this is a well planned event and I congratulate everyone.”

Thirty-one states attended this year’s edition of NAFEST, which is a statement that Nigeria is divinely bonded through cultural values and norms.

This singular gesture is a uniting force for us to know that we are one and we  will remain a driving force to promote the unity of this nation to the letter.

Apart from the special presentation of goge to the 2022 host state which went to Lagos State, the organiser also presented the DG’s host state hospitality to

Governor Kayode Fayemi and DG NCAC’s goge for mama NAFEST for outstanding support for children to Erelu Bisi Fayemi.

Other categories

Best costume states

Rivers, Imo Kogi

Largest contingent in NAFEST

Rivers and Bayelsa states

Best behave and discipline states

Yobe, Taraba and Sokoto

Most improved state at NAFEST

Jigawa, Gombe

Most creative and innovative state in packaging and presentation

Ondo, Nassarswa and Kano

Best entrepreneurial state

Osun, Niger, zamfara

Best in digital marketing of art

Abia, Bauchi, Plateau

Best in synergy and team work

Lagos, River, FTC, Ogun,

Most consistent state at NAFEST

Borno, Kaduna, Katsina, Benue

Tradition cuisine competition

5th FCT and Imo

4th Bayelsa

3rd Ekiti and Delta

2nd Nasarawa

1st Rivers

Children essay writing

5th

4th Nassarawa

3rd Gombe

2nd Benue

1st Ekiti and Rivers

Children art and craft competition

5th FCT

4TH Benue

3rd Ogun

2nd Lagos

1st Ekiti

Archery

4thKaduna and Rivers

3rd Borno

2nd Ekiti

1st Nassarawa

Drama competition

5th Bayelsa

4th Delta

3rd Rivers and Ondo

2nd Ekiti

1st Benue and Ogun

Children tales by moonlight puppetry

5th Delta

4th Lagos

3rd Benue

2nd Bayelsa

1st Ekiti and Rivers

Traditional board games

4th Nassarawa and Delta

3rd River

2nd Ekiti and Lagos

1st Bayelsa

Indigenous Fabric and Fashion competition

5th FCT

4th Delta

3rd Ekiti

2nd Bayelsa

1st Rivers

Nigerian fabric

5th Niger

4th Delta

3rd FCT

2nd Bayelsa

1st Ekiti

Overall winning state at NAFEST 2021

4th Delta and Nasarawa

3rd Bayelsa and Benue

2nd Rivers

1st Ekiti

to do tourism; you are advised that you use tour operators, because they will show you were to go. Just like the past speaker has said, there is nowhere in the world that is totally secured.

And you know, tourism can be done despite insecurity but it is better done with security. So, security information is all we need to be able to go round Imo State and enjoy ourselves.

“Let us make sure that this information is always given out. Let tour operation be developed so that it will be possible for people to go round this state without fear.

“Now, for tourism to thrive in any locality, three basic things are necessary. The thing we need is access, and Imo State has it. Another thing we need is the quality of infrastructure.

“In this issue of security, we need to encourage the government and the private sector and everybody that is involved in it so that Imo State will continue to do well.”

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