Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-olu, has declared open the 35th edition of the National Festival of Arts and Culture, tagged “EKO NAFEST 2022” with a call on Nigerians to elect leaders that will further unify the nation in the forthcoming general elections.
Themed “Culture and Peaceful Co- existence” the opening ceremony of the festival which was held at Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, was colourful as delegates from the 29 states participating in the festival put up diverse cultural displays including dances and masquerades
Governor Sanwo-olu who opened a calabash filled with significant cultural items, including kola nuts, bitter kola and alligator peppers explained that Lagos’s decision to host this year’s edition was borne out of the desire to further support and showcase arts, crafts, entertainment and the aquatic splendour of the State, to further strengthen the cultural heritage and promote unity in diversity of the country.
“As we celebrate Nigeria’s cultural heritage and diversity here today, my clarion call is that we take this as an opportunity to elect leaders who will recognize and take advantage of our rich culture, multi-cultural heritage, our language, to unify us as a people and as a nation which was the intentions of our founding fathers”
“Rather than see the differences in our language or our culture as a dividing force, I implore us to see it as one of our greatest resource to be embraced to celebrate one another and to be used for our collective advantage” the Governor stated
In her welcome address, the Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, who enjoined delegates to take advantage of Lagos’ hospitality and tourist attractions noted that NAFEST had over the years proven to be a unifying platform for all tribes in the country.
“Lagos prides itself as a peaceful State, known for co-habiting and co-existing in unity, despite the differences in ethnicity and languages, Lagos remains a reference point for what an ideal State exemplifies. I want to implore everyone here present especially our contingents from other States across the country to use the opportunity of this festival to explore the abundant tourism potentials in different parts of Lagos State.
Here in Lagos, our nightlife activities remains top-notch, being a 21st century economy. You have heard of the popular phrase “Eko for Show” which echoes creativity, pomp and pageantry peculiar to Lagosians. This cultural festival, however, presents an opportunity for you to experience different entertainment shows in this city of excellence.
You must also be reminded of the fact that Lagos, apart from being the Centre of Excellence, is also a State of Aquatic splendour surrounded by water which constitutes part of our heritage. You are also invited to explore the tourism potentials on our waterways as well as the world class water transportation system here in Lagos. In a nutshell, as we celebrate, and have fun, I plead with us all not to forget the inherent message in this festival of culture and arts” she said
The rest of the NAFEST activities, which kicked off on Monday this week continue at the National Sports Institute within the National Stadium Surulere and will be rounded off with a closing ceremony at Onikan on Sunday.