November 27, 2020
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When you know your onion inside out, there is every tendency that many will be confused when you take a step to do the undoable and some may even want to withdraw but when you start unveiling the innovations that make you standout, everyone will want to be part of the success they were short sighted about.

This is the story of the ongoing National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) at the home of peace and tourism, Plateau State where the Director-General of National Council of Arts and Culture, Chief Segun Runsewe joined the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong, chairman, Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, Rochas Okorocha and Minister for Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen among other personalities to make a landmark history on the Plateau with the hosting of NAFEST 2020.

The 2020 edition of the NAFEST which majority believed would be difficult to organise at a time when the world is gradually coming out from the clog of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fears about safety and security in Plateau State, the festival, again re-established seamless confidence in the state as the home of peace and tourism.

The icing on the cake of the festival outing started with a night of cultural splendor tagged the command performance where the beauty of the home of peace and tourism showcased in grand style the cultural lifestyle of the people, displaying the survival instinct, occupational pedigree and fashion fad of the plateaus’ progenitors dating back to 5000BC.

The night which was also organised with the strict protocols of the COVID-19 safety, had at the event arena and entrance; hand washing items, hand sanitisers administers and temperature checking device to not only adhere to the NCDC protocols, but also to keep the participants safe.

It was a night like no other as the organisers were in their best to welcome and show that Plateau State is truly the home of peace and tourism entertaining the audience at the Langfield venue with display of surprise after surprises as the performances were serialised in creative sequence to flow with the audience without recording a dull moment from the beginning to the end.

The stage, gave an ample opportunity to the young at heart as they took charge of the night with well directed stage performance that reflected the situation of the country, giving account of Nigeria’s pre, post-colonial and the present day socio-political and economic situation and how culture can be a healer for a better tomorrow.

It was not only a night of old memory of the beauty of Nigeria diverse culture and people, but a night that stimulate commitment and practical move to see the youth as the next generation to take Nigeria to the dream destination using the cultural elements to foster unity in diversity.

When one thought the command performance was loaded by virtue of the feature, the opening ceremony at the Rwang Pam Township Stadium showcased an epic performance of the magnificent people, culture and potentialities of the plateaus.

It also gave a theatrical display of the rich natural deposit on the plateau, colonial invaders and how the people resisted and fought for their land but the war ended with many woes which desecrated because of western lifestyle and in making amend, the land was taken over by the spirits and ancestors of the land, who later performed cleansing and invited the Governor Simon Lalong to the stage to beat the drum of freedom for the rebirth of a new plateau.

This stage play and opening of the cultural basket signal the opening of the 2020 NAFEST, which also showcased the best of the 21 participating states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Entering the day two of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST), Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Segun Runsewe, declared open the festival skills acquisition programme with 280 participants.

The session which will last for the period of the festival is scheduled to train attendees on cosmetology and makeup, fashion design and other tailoring rudiments, soap and toilet disinfectant.

Speaking at the event, the NCAC boss who commended the coordinators of the skills acquisition for their effort at creating time to develop capacity for the Creative Industry, also urged the participants to use the opportunity to equip themselves as a means of creating jobs as well as engaging others.

“We are trying to use this platform to create a value chain engagement for youths through different empowerment skills not only to keep them busy and employed, but also to bridge the unemployment gap in the economy.

“We are also doing this to encourage made in Nigeria products and also to help youths to be gainfully employed as well as help to cut down our level of importation.”

The day’s event also featured the zonal elimination of the NAFEST cultural quiz with students representing schools from five geo-political zones of Nigeria.

However, the choral music competition with 10 states performing, rounded off the programme of Tuesday, November 23, 2020.

Speaking at the ongoing 33rd edition of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) at the Rwang Pam Township Stadium, Jos, the Governor of Plateau State, Rt Hon. Simon Bako Lalong, reaffirmed the state’s readiness to take up its position as the tourism pride of Nigeria.

Seamless display of togetherness

“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-economic recovery of our nation. That does not mean that we should act outside the guidelines of protection against the pandemic. We have to continue to remain vigilant as we contain the pandemic in Nigeria.

“Based on this understanding, therefore, I urge all the delegates to NAFEST 2020, in the coming days and throughout the festival period to faithfully and vehemently observe all protocols and guidelines put in place by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC); these include observing social distance, wearing ace masks, use of hand sanitisers, regularly washing of hand with soaps, among others for the sake of their health and that of others.

“As we gather here, we need to critically examine the challenges the coronavirus has brought upon us and how we can use art and culture to address them. In terms of the economic consequences of COVID-19, it will be important to demonstrate at this festival that our cultural endowment and artistic varieties can be used for wealth creation and empowerment.

“Plateau State as the home of peace and tourism, we are happy to welcome people from within and outside Nigeria to share in this creative pleasure.

Seamless display of togetherness

“We remain a state that is endowed with the best weather condition comparable to none in Nigeria which explains why we are the preferred destination of choice for many who like to partake in these potential, such as arable soil, the breathtaking tourist destination and diverse but rich cultural variety.”

In his remarks, the chairman, Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, who spoke with great enthusiasm about the creative effort as organising the 2020 edition of NAFEST, described the Director-General of National Council of Arts and Culture, Otunba Runsewe as a smart and creative personality with bold initiative to see beyond the current pandemic, COVID-19 to device a way out to host the event.

The DG of NCAC is a smart man to have workout safe and convenient ways to organise the NAFEST despite the COVID-19 pandemic. This shows that we are well ahead of the world in the way we plan to fit into the new normal of doing things.

He, however, commended the Governor of Plateau State for the big step in reclaiming the state’s position not only as the home of peace and tourism but also to be a destination that Nigeria can project as a prefer tourism brand hub.

Dame Pauline Tallen, Women Affairs Minister, was also excited about NAFEST impact on the plateau tourism economy, stating that governor Lalong has returned peace to the Plateau, making it once again the heartbeat of Nigeria’s Cultural tourism destination.

“We are ready to occupy our rightful place in all areas of national development and credit today goes to the governor, the people of plateau state.” She emphasised.

Runsewe, in his opening remarks noted that Plateau Syate, cannot be ignored in the cultural agenda to rebuild Nigeria, noting that all COVID-19 protocols will be observed to the letter even though as Nigeria prepares for a post COVID-19 Cultural tourism economy.

“We are conscious of the impact and challenges posed by COVID-19, and so we are ready to observe all its protocols but we must prepare and engage our people and investors on the post COVID-19 outlook in order not to completely lose focus on the market.” Runsewe explained.

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