Nafest @ 35: The making of Endorsement 37

By Frank Meke.

It was the biggest and best gathering of the owners of Nigerian culture and there is no denying the fact that the iconic Nigerian cultural tourism festival, National Festival of Arts and Culture ( Nafest) has fulfilled its major operational importance, the unity and peaceful coexistence of all Nigerians.

It was a long walk to this reality and to those who may just wake up to the thoughts that Nigerian culture could be miscountrued as a business deserving some long monologue of confusion and policy frameworks in microscopic irrelevantalism, the huge gains and achievements of Nafest in the past thirty five years, is a testament to the fact that Nigeria’s cultural economy has a clearly defined focus. So, all those who dream of using the culture podium to dance naked in the public space or submit euro centric cultural proposals should please allow our culture to breathe and thrive.

Let me explain. The coming of Olusegun Runsewe to the driver’s seat at National Council for Arts and Culture, rejigged the focal expectations for this festival, and to which a bidding process to actually help text its reach and acceptation was generiously adopted.

The vision, its capacity to create jobs and empower the Nigerian people, particularly the youths and women were strategically communicated to the 36 states governments in Nigeria, with intent to mainstream the presence of relevant and livable cultural infrastructures and attitudinal temperance to marketing and promotion of the festival.

Indeed, and to each state to successfully bid to host this effervescent and beautiful festival, key and strategic attention must be paid either to the construction of public engagement structures capable of providing adequate ambience for Nafest multi faceted and unique cultural contents, lodging and hospitality facilities with competitive global expectations and well spread out public conveniences with the best hygiene ecosystem.

Runsewe in adding futuristic values to a Nafest he met on ground believes that Nigerian culture is sufficiently capable to drive Nigerian tourism, offering unique contents to could provide bankable economic benefits to each state in the Federation and also serving as the pillar to attracting visitors and tourists to Nigeria, driving rural growth and development.

That the Nigerian governors of kaduna, Rivers, Plateau, Edo Ekiti, and lagos states had , in recent times, jumped into Nafest train and flourished its vibrancy and sustainability, speaks volumes to the festival’s empowerment opportunities and values to socioeconomic development.

Let me clearly state that Nafest’ s winning gong has gone round the entire country but the new vision is to keep it in focus as cultural tourism mint of the country, recalibrating it beyond mere village square gathering for dances and drummings.

It’s inspiring to listen to segun Runsewe at the Nafest review town hall meeting in Abuja last week, a four days cultural tourism conference with all the 36 states commissioners , Director and permanent secretaries of culture , Arts and Creative economy and also the federal capital administration in attendance , wholeheartedly validating a refreshing transformation and new opportunities for the iconic festival.

Though Runsewe has shown courage to deliver a new business offerings for Nafest, he manifestly praised Nigerian governors as strategic partners to the growth potentials of the festival and so honoured each of them, new and old, a rare acknowledgement of the roles of the federating states to our unity and diversity.

It’s important to highlight that no state was missing in this effort to redefine the policy frameworks of Nafest and also in aligning it to the renewed hope agenda of the administration of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu Certainly, it was evident that culture does not front political differences but instead unifies the nation, endorsing peace and security.

This movement, yes, rightly a cultural movement also had in attendance all key private stakeholders from the culture tourism media, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies, National Association of Threatre Arts practitioners, National Association Tour Operators, Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria and whole lots, all key owners and drivers of cultural tourism businesses and who pledged to bring about changes in the country’s cultural tourism economy.

At this point, it is again to revisit the endorsed reforms to Nafest in the past 35 years and the key springboard to its futuristic survival as the new oil. For lack of space, .it is relevant to state the parliamentary process deployed to stimulate deep and interesting interventions, add to the memorable outing and its recommendations, and document well to guide the future of Nafest.

I won’t touch the well researched papers presented at the confab, dwelling on the impact electronic marketing campaign beyond Nigerian borders, Appreciating Nigerian culture through photography and on Culture as tool for revamping the economy, a stimulating insight by Otunba Segun Runsewe.

Those papers technically vibrated through the hall and continued at lunchtime, with participants eager to return to planery to arrive at positions depending on the various areas touching their hearts.

To give a wide birth to these cultural tourism issues, eight syndicate groups were inaugurated, with each state presenting three representatives to the groups and mandates to robustly review and scrutize all inputs submitted, and suggested to reinforce the iconic festival.

Having run some amendments to earlier positions and submissions, it became glaring that the endorsements of the document by the 36 and FCT, Culture, Arts and Creative economy administrators and facilitators must be publicly affirmed and adopted to avoid a virus free impartation.

On skill acquisition, it was evidently endorsed as a strategic tool to culturally empower in particular women, youths
and the physically challenged through apprenticeship, formal education, and traditional skill transfer windows. The growing impact of skill acquisition can not be overemphasised considering its positive influence to discover new culture entrepreneurs and startups.

The promotion and marketing advocacy platforms for repackaged cultural tourism products must be driven through a tech savvy process, creation of galleries, and participation in international travel and tourism trade shows.

Others are the rebirth of one state, one culture product to avoid duplicity of cultural products by the each state in the Federation in order to harmonise promotion and marketing efforts.

To sustain a global and local cultural tourism acceptation, structured and well funded cultural exchange programme must become the focal expectations to generate, encourage and promote international diplomacy, trade and unity in diversity. Towards this end, the endorsed document captured the effort of the DG, NCAC, Otunba Segun Runsewe in partnership with the Chinese government to train 370 Nigerian youths in China and to which all participants described as the most revealing opportunity to which president Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration should use as a cultural poster to attract more investment and training openings for unemployed young persons in Nigeria.

Multiple sources of funding for culture particularly within structured government and the private sector, including international donor agencies were laid bare but a strategic funding advocacy must drive the new template and with a call for the setting up a national endowment fund for Arts.

And since Nigerian is uniquely blessed in cultural tourism diversity, the participants upvoted the remerger of culture and tourism ministry, noting that without cultural tourism products, the stand alone Ministry of Tourism, will only exist on paper with no positive consequential impact to the nation.

It was also agreed and endorsed that Nafest should dovetail and populate cultural activities across the country, targeting niche markets around the Diaspora, academic and research communities.

The “Endorsement 37” agenda for a Nafest economy, praised the untiring efforts of the Director General of National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe and affirmed that he has brought a new enduring vista for the culture sector and assured him of their total support and collaboration.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

scroll to top