Contingents from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory FCT Abuja are in Ekiti State participating in the week – long, 34th National Festival of Arts and Culture – Ekiti NAFEST 2021.
Since the big event was declared open on Saturday, November 13 by Ekiti State Governor and Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Dr Kayode Fayemi, the state has been bubbling with business activities.
The Pavilion adjoining the sprawling ultra modern Civic and Convention Centre in the state capital, where the diverse cultures in the country are on display, has become a mini trade fair where the participating states have on display for sale, products indigenous to each state.
Local traders have also taken advantage of the influx of visitors to the state to display for sale, outside the main arena, assorted manufactured goods as well as farm produce to make brisk business.
The current beehive of economic activities around the main venue of NAFEST 2021 has vindicated Govermor Fayemi’s optimism that the 34th edition of the National Festival of Arts and Culture would attract global attention and bring many stakeholders in the culture, tourism and creative world to Ekiti State so as to improve the economic, cultural and creative fortunes of the state.
The Governor made the prophetic pronouncement
in his speech before he cut the tape to officially declare the festival open.
The hospitality business in Ekiti State is currently enjoying a boom on account of the huge number of participants and the tourists attracted by the festival. Our investigation shows that most hotels in the state capital, Ado Ekiti and its environs are fully booked which means hoteliers are right now smiling all the way to their banks.
The story is the same for food vendors, many of whom have relocated temporarily to the pavilion in Fajuyi Square to feed the teeming crowd selling and buying at the mini fair ground and ditto for commercial transportation as taxis and commercial motorcyclists popularly Okada are currently making the money they never imagine they could make on a daily basis, ferrying visitors round the state capital or transporting them to tourists sites across the state, like the Olosunta Hills in Ikere Ekiti, the popular Ikogosi Warm Spring, Arinta Water Fall at Ipole Iloro Ekiti, Ogun Onire Groove at Ire Ekiti and many others.
Another dimension to Ekiti NAFEST 2021 is that the festival is featuring several competitions according to the Director General, National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe. The competitions are in tales by moonlight, drama, traditional board games (ayo olopon), children’s drawing and painting, children’s essay writing, traditional cuisines, archery, indigenous fabric and fashion.
Otunba Runsewe announced that winners in the listed competitions would be given prizes and awards.
Those are some of the immediate gains of Ekiti NAFEST 2021 while the medium and long term economic gains will begin to manifest when the Memoranda of Understanding MoU now being signed between Ekiti and some of the states and among the participating states become effective.
We can confidently conclude therefore that the critics of the festival before it took off should have seen by now that contrary to their prophesy of doom, the National Festival of Arts and Culture is not an avenue to showcase idol worshipping.
But as Dr Fayemi said while opening the spectacular show, the current economic and political state of the country requires concerted efforts and investment in arts and culture to give room for the expression of talents, promotion of unity of the country in its diversity and harnessing its human potentials for economic prosperity.