The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday officially declared open the 2022 National Festival of Arts & Culture, NAFEST, titled Eko NAFEST, urging Nigerians to elect only leaders who will “protect our rich cultures and unite the country.” The governor also said that Otunba Runsewe’s doggedness was instrumental to the success of this year’s festival so far. Runsewe is the Director General of National Council for Arts and Culture, which organises the yearly iconic festival.
His words: “As we all know, this is campaign season as our nation’s general elections has been scheduled to hold within the first quarter of next year. As political office holders continue to engage the electorates at this period, it is important to re-echo the message of unity and peaceful co-existence which NAFEST platform provides.
“Rather than seeing the differences in our language and culture as a dividing factor, I implore us to see it as one of our greatest resources to be embraced, celebrated and used to our collective advantage.
“As we celebrate the Nigerian heritage and cultural diversity here today, my clarion call is that we take this an opportunity to elect leaders who will recognise and take advantage of our rich, multi-cultural heritage and language to unify us as a people and as a nation which was the intention of our founding fathers.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu also praised the efforts of Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, Honorable Commissioner, Ministry of Arts, Culture and tourism, Lagos State, towards the success of the 2022 festival hosted this year by Lagos State. He described NAFEST as a festival that showcases the rich cultural heritage of Nigeria saying “we are celebrating our unity and diversity with culture and arts.”
After civil war, Sanwo-Olu observed, culture and arts was identified as parts of the instruments for the healing of some of the injuries Nigeria and her people sustained during the war.
The governor revealed that Lagos State’s desire to further support and showcase arts & culture informed the hosting of 2022 Eko NAFEST. “To meet and surpass the standards set in past editions of NAFEST is the aim of Lagos,” he enthused, expressing confidence that Lagos will perform excellently in the 2022 Eko NAFEST as it has done in past editions. He reiterated that entertainment and tourism are among the 5 main pillars of development in Lagos.
In addition to other cultural displays from different states such as the popular Ohaofia War Dance from Abia State, different parts of Lagos, the host state, showcased colorful Masquerades and breathtaking dances.
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Some of the dances and masquerades that made appearances include the Agbo Remireke from Ijede, the Zangbeto Dance from Badagry an official traditional police force, originally created to stave off criminals and protect the people, Igunuko Masquerade from Lagos Island these tall masquerades possess the ability to drastically reduce their heights,the Apesi Masquerades in raffia costumes, etc.
As at the time of the opening ceremony, 29 out of the 36 states in Nigeria have registered for the 2022 Eko NAFEST. Some of the states are Rivers, Bayelsa, Ondo, Ekiti, Lagos, Benue, Abia, Kaduna, Niger, Ogun, Oyo, Nassarawa, Jigawa and Katsina.
Other states are Edo, Kogi, Gombe, Delta, Kano, Zamfara, Osun, Kwara, Imo, FCT, Ebonyi, Taraba, Yobe and others. More, possibly all states in Nigeria are expected to arrive before the festival which began last Monday, November 7, closes on Sunday November 13, 2023.