From KEHINDE ADEWOLE, Ado-Ekiti
Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, has expressed the readiness of his administration to invest in arts and culture to create job opportunities and boost economy in the grassroots.
The Governor who spoke at the grand finale of Ekiti State Festival for Arts and Culture (EKIFEST) said culture should not be mistaken for idol worshipping or promotion of fetish objects as it is a vehicle for sustaining the people’s identity.
Represented by the Deputy Governor, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi, Fayemi said Ekiti has comparative advantage in producing cultural materials that can attract tourists which can be marketed on the global scene.
According to a statement by the Special Assistant (Media) to the Deputy Governor, Odunayo Ogunmola, the three-day festival had as its theme: “Arts and Culture, Tools for Restoration of Values and Socio-Economic Development.”
The cultural fiesta which drew participants from within and outside the state was also attended by the Ekiti First Lady, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, top government functionaries, culture icons, Nollywood actors, music stars and other artistes.
The Governor stressed that EKIFEST offered another opportunity to awaken the interest of the youths on agriculture and production of handcrafts which are capable of turning them to owners of their businesses.
He noted that many of the products exhibited at EKIFEST like including plantains, yams, mats and wood used to produce sculptures were made possible by agriculture.
The Governor urged the youths not to see politics as a full-time profession but to take advantage of government investment in agriculture to economically empower themselves.
Government, he said, would assist the youths to clear the land and provide them with credit facilities needed to boost commercial agriculture in the state to generate jobs and ensure food security.
Erelu Fayemi, who was the Chairperson of EKIFEST Local Organising Committee, urged Ekiti people to preserve their culture to protect their identity.
The Governor’s wife explained that local artefacts, songs, dances, attires and physical features like hills which dot the landscape of the state have potentials to attract tourists from all parts of the world.
Mrs Fayemi said foreigners including Americans have been coming to Nigeria to learn the Ifa oracle which she said is now on computer.
She hailed the Governor for creating an enabling environment for arts and culture to thrive and for upgrading the State Council for Arts and Culture to a full-fledged Ministry.
The Director General of the State Council for Arts and Culture, Mr. Wale Ojo-Lanre, described EKIFEST as a huge blessing to the state which for the first time gave children opportunity to participate in a fiesta of such magnitude.
Beside boosting the tourism potentials of Ekiti, Ojo-Lanre described the festival as a period of bumper harvest for hoteliers, taxi cab drivers and commercial motorcycle operators who profited from influx of people from within and outside the state.
Products on parade at the festival included artefacts, local fabrics, drums, gongs, beads, drums, agricultural produce, local delicacies, palm wine, among others.
Awards were given to deserving individuals and local government areas for exceptional performance.