By Henry Akubuiro
There are indications the 35th edition of NAFEST (National Festival of Arts and Culture) holding in Lagos will be the biggest of its kind in Nigeria, going by the preparations on ground and assurances of the DG, National Council of Arts and Culture, Chief Olusegun Runsewe, and officials of Lagos State Government.
Conducting media men round the National Stadium, Lagos, venue for Eko NAFEST, Chief Olusegun Runsewe, said preparations were at an advanced stage, as the host state, Lagos, had put everything in order to make a hitch free festival.
Aside from the refurbished facilities inspected at the National Stadium, Lagos, journalists also saw firsthand an expansive, air-conditioned, secured accommodation facility located in Bariga, capable of housing hundreds of guests with special rooms for couples and children.
Runsewe, who appreciated the Lagos State government for fixing up the venue in just six months, said:
“The venue for NAFEST has been abandoned for 25 years, but the Lagos State Governor, who is interested in developing Nigeria, has renovated it to international standard and also duplicated what happened in 1974 during the all African games held in Lagos.”
Thus, the Eko NAFEST might break the over four-year records of Governor Wike of Rivers state, “who deployed the greatest incentives and enabling environment when it played host to the iconic NAFEST in the year 2019,” he said.
Governor Sanwo Olu would also use the forthcoming festival to unveil the 37 Wonders of Nigeria, which Runsewe said, would showcase the rich cultural and tourism destinations of the 36 States of Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Said Runsewe: “The State Governor of Lagos, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, will be at the closing ceremony, breaking the biggest ground at the event. He will be launching the 37 wonders of Nigeria, which means every state has a wonder.”
Emphasising the need for national cohesion, Runsewe said: “This is to show that it is time for Nigeria to be united, especially at this period of politics and election, and that is the purpose of the National Festival of Arts” and Culture, NAFEST.”
The FCT and the 36 states of Nigeria are expected to participate in the Eko Nafest from November 7th to 13th. The festival would showcase and market their various tourism destinations, cultures, arts and crafts.
Speaking in the same vein, the Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Akinbile-Yusuf, assured the state was 100 percent ready to host the Eko NAFEST.
Akinbile-Yusuf, who was part of the media tour at the National Stadium, venue for the festival in Lagos, said the festival would be the most memorable so far in Nigeria, as
preparations had been completed in infrastructure, security, transportation and other areas.
“As you can see, we are 100 per cent ready to host Eko NAFEST.. We have left no stone unturned, and I want to appreciate Gov. Sanwo-Olu for the support enjoyed so far.
She said: “Mr Governor promised that he was going to make this year’s edition of NAFEST a story to be talked about by many. You can see that he has not only promised but he has backed his promise with lots of action. The governor has rebranded the iconic National Stadium. It has become a new edifice everyone can be proud of.”
While assuring tourists of their safety, she said the state had designed creative programmes to feature during Eko NAFEST, including the entertainment city, nightlife and concerts.
She said all stakeholders across tourism, arts, culture and hospitality industries would be fully involved in the festival, hinting on them making huge sales.
“As a state, we are excited, because this is a huge opportunity for us to improve on our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and ensure the necessary data are generated for future reference,” she said.