Nigeria’s Culture, Repository Of Unique Practices

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Being an address by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan during the official opening ceremony of  the 24th National  Festival of Arts and Culture (Nafest) 2010, At Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State, recently.

Protocol:

It gives me great pleasure to be with you all today at the official opening ceremony of the 24th Edition of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) 2010, holding in Uyo, the capital city of the very promising and warm people of Akwa Ibom State.

I am well informed of the strides that have been recorded in our Nation’s socio-cultural history by the yearly observance of this important Festival which today is in its 24th edition. By bringing together in a convivial atmosphere of festivity and healthy competition, contingents from 36 States and the FCT, as well as related Governmental and Non-Governmental Agencies, NAFEST over the years, has done a lot in upholding the Unity of this country as well spreading the messages of good values of our shared heritage.

Considering that we have just celebrated our 50th independence anniversary, the festival could not have come at a better time than this. The festival, in addition to its primary objectives, proves yet another forum for us to reflect in our achievements as a nation and in so doing chart our course for a brighter future.

We ‘should therefore refocus our efforts in building on the spirit and virtues of our 50 years achievements towards our match to advancement in all sectors of our endeavors. In this regards, I urge all the stakeholders in the culture industry to utilize the instruments of NAFEST with a view to leapfrog our march towards realizing our quest to make Nigeria one of the 20 most developed economies in the year 2020.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I am well pleased to note that the theme of this year’s NAFEST is Cultural Industries and Economic Empowerment. The mere contemplation of this theme imbues one with the certainty that indeed our culture is a repository of unique practices that can be creatively used to diversify our seemingly mono-cultural economy with a view to creating sustainable wealth that will empower the general populace of this great country.

Much as we have the problem of youth unemployment, rural and urban poverty in our land, which many government policies have been put in place to tackle over the years, our gathering today is a wake up call that we should pay more attention to our cultural industries in finding solution to some of these problems. The time is now very ripe for the public and the private sectors of our economy to begin to explore the great prospects that abounds in our cultural industries in alleviating poverty, diversifying our revenue base, achieving the various set objectives of the Millennium Development Goals, empowering our people and generating wealth for our unemployed rural populace.

All over the world, cultural issues have gone beyond just jamborees and festivities, to include finding the utilitarian values of culture from the tangible to the intangible. I am happy to note that recent NAFESTs and the one we are opening today have been structured to espouse this new thinking.

To assist the various institutions of culture maintain this development driven initiative, all hands must be on deck to give the necessary support. I will at this juncture urge all States, the FCT and Local Government Authorities to continue to support cultural activities in their various localities as it has been proven that culture is the bedrock of wholesome development. The Federal Government on its part will continue to identify and support this Festival and other such initiatives that will project the unique role of culture in our national development.

Once again at this most auspicious occasion and still in our celebrative mood of the 50th Independence Anniversary, let me commend our numerous artistic icons both sung and unsung, in all fields of cultural activities for the honour they have done to our dear nation through their chosen areas of endeavours.

To conclude my remarks, I wish to congratulate The Honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Alh. Abubakar Sadiq Mohammed, the Board, Management and Staff of the National Council for Arts and Culture for the wonderful synergy with the Government and good people of Akwa Ibom State in packaging this very important national festival. This further demonstrates the team spirit required for us to collectively work together for the benefit of our people.

Once more, I congratulate Your Excellency the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief (Dr) Godswill Obot Akpabio for your efforts at delivering good governance, which has translated to an enduring peace and harmony in the State. These efforts are highly commendable and worthy of emulation by all.

Let me also commend the contingents from the 36 States of the Federation including the FCT, other participating groups, the artiste(s), festival officials, the audience and spectators and the good people of Akwa Ibom State for .your efforts at making this festival a spectacular one. I wish you all a happy experience of the famous Akwa Ibom hospitality and fulfilling NAFEST 2010.

It is my honour to declare NAFEST 2010 officially open Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria and God Bless you all.