19 states shun NAFEST 2013 in Bayelsa

The 27th edition of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST 2013) officially kicked-off on a colourless note on Tuesday in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State, with poor attendance.
About 19 states of the federation, including the FCT, shunned the festival as they refused to deploy their state contingents to participate in the event, which will last one week.
Among the states that are staying away from this year’s NAFEST are Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe and Jigawa.
Others are Kebbi, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Rivers, Yobe, Zamfara and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
At the opening ceremony on Tuesday, which held at the Samson Siasia Sports Complex, only 17 states, including the host, Bayelsa, participated in the cultural march past witnessed by President Gooluck Jonathan represented by Governor Seriake Dickson, members of the state executive council and the state House of Assembly, and the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Orientation, Edem Duke.
They included Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kogi, Nasarawa, Niger, Osun, Sokoto, Plateau, and Taraba states.
There were reports at the scanty venue that the absence of the 19 states may not be unconnected with the political crisis of confidence currently rocking the political climate of the country and the political impasse in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Declaring the festival open, President Jonathan, however, said he was delighted with theme of this year’s NAFEST, ‘Culture, Peace and National Transformation’.
Jonathan noted that the theme would promote peace and national unity while stimulating the growth of the culture industry for the country’s economic development.
“I am pleased to note that the theme of this year’s NAFEST, which is, ‘Culture, Peace and National Transformation’, is geared towards the promotion of peace and national unity in addition to growing the culture industry for economic development”, he enthused.
Jonathan continued: “I commend the choice of the theme, giving the determination and concerted efforts of the present administration to transform Nigeria into a virile and prosperous nation.”
He said the cultural march past by the participating states showcased the rich cultural heritage of the people of the country in a convivial atmosphere which, he pointed out, was re-assuring.
The President urged the cultural ambassadors of the various states to leverage on the NAFEST platform by promoting the virtues of Nigeria’s cultural endowments.
Jonathan emphasised the fact that the cultural heritage of the people abhors vices like violence and indolence but encourages hard work, mutual co-existence and national integration.
Speaking in his capacity as the chief host of NAFEST 2013, Dickson said the government and people of Bayelsa were glad to host the cultural event.
Dickson said hosting the event was indicative of the prevailing peace in the state, stressing that “Bayelsa is increasingly becoming the destination of culture and tourism”.

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