By Martha Agas
Jos, Nov. 23, 2020Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau on Monday declared open the 33rd edition of the National Festival for Arts and Culture (NAFEST) with a call for efforts to boost the nation’s economy through Arts and Culture, amid the hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lalong, who performed the function at Rwang Pam Stadium, Jos, venue of the opening ceremony, said: ” as we get down to the details of this festival, we need to critically examine the challenges that the Coronavirus pandemic has brought upon us and how we can use Arts and Culture to address them.
“In terms of the economic consequences of COVID-19, it will be important for us to demonstrate at this festival, that our cultural endowments and artistic varieties can be used for wealth creation and empowerment ,” he said.
He urged the practitioners of Arts and Culture to be proactive, creative, and resourceful in deploying the nation’s vast and untapped resources to improve the economy.
The Governor, however, expressed concern that the nation’s cultural heritage and values were being threatened by security challenges, saying efforts must be made to redeem them.
“Today we face threats and related crimes such as kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, corruption, intolerance, disrespect for traditions and corruption, which negate the culture and traditions of the ethnic groups we belong to.
We have to reflect deeply on this and begin to retrace our steps in such a way that we preserve not only our cherished cultural values, but also the future of our society,” he said.
He said the festival would provide a platform for discourse on the unity, peace and progress of the nation within the context of the nation’s cultural and artistic diversities.
Lalong also said that technology could be used for documentation, storing and transmitting arts and cultural endowments effectively, but cautioned on its misuse, particularly the social media.
“However, the misuse of technology, particularly the social media, can make us loose our cultural and artistic values within a twinkle of an eye.
“This is why we must continue to advocate for the responsible use of the social media by all,” he said.
He said Plateau was endowed with the best weather conditions in Nigeria and that the state remained the destination for many who desired to invest in its abundant solid minerals and visit its many unique tourist sites.
The governor said the theme of the festival: “Post COVID-19 and Cultural Dynamism”,was very apt in view of the economic hardships caused by the pandemic, saying the event would create a platform to discuss the way forward.
” By staging this event, we are clearly demonstrating our resilience as a people, to coping with the pandemic and doing everything possible to facilitate the socio-cultural and economic recovery of our nation,” he said.
He said the state would host the glorious star event to celebrate those who started their careers in Plateau , saying it would project the true and positive image the state was known for.
” We have such Stars in arts and entertainment, sports, education, science and technology, politics and governance, among others,” Lalong said.
Earlier, the Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Segun Runsewe, said NAFEST was a platform for showcasing the rich cultural heritage of different states in Nigeria.
He said the festival had become a veritable platform for bringing Nigerians together to showcase their cultural strength and consolidate the nation’s unity in diversity.
Newsmen reports that 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory are participating in the festival which would end on Nov. 28.
The festival would feature traditional board game, archery, indigenous fabrics competition, traditional cuisine competition and children’s essay competition, among others.
Dignitaries who attended the opening ceremony included the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pauline Tallen and the former Governor of Imo, Owelle Rochas Okorocha.