Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has declared open the National Council for Arts and Culture (NAFEST). He also described the event as a unifying force for the country.

The governor made the declaration yesterday evening at the opening ceremony of the 31st National Council for Arts and Culture, NAFEST Rivers 2018, at the Sharks Stadium, Port Harcourt.

With the theme: “Nigeria: Our Festivals, Our Heritage”, NAFEST Rivers 2018, attracted participants from 18 States of the Federation, including Rivers State.

The governor said culture empowers humanity by improving interpersonal relationships, noting that NAFEST is a platform for the states to make the most of the nation’s culture.

He said: ‘Whether we agree or not, our diversity is what defines and binds us as a nation under the glorious sun. Although our tribes and tongues may differ, we are a nation bound by a common destiny and firmly glued together by the spirit of brotherhood, cultural harmony, and inter-ethnic solidarity instead of discord, tribalism, nepotism and sectionalism.

“What is imperative therefore is for us to take full advantage of the innate strength in our diversity together with our incredible human and natural resource endowments to build a just, united and prosperous country for the present and future generations.”

Wike also noted that the essence of the festival was to promote national peace, unity and cohesion.

He said: “In addition to celebrating the rich cultural tapestry of our country, NAFEST also provides the opportunity for cultural activism with the use of creative images and expressions to engage or take on our leaders on the politics of nation-building, human rights, regional integration, inter-ethnic harmony, national peace and development.”

In his remarks, Director General of NAFEST, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, commended the governor for making history for the people of Rivers State.

Recalling that NAFEST started in 1970 as a direct response from the then Federal Government to the bitterness, discord and disaffection resulting from the Nigeria Civil war, Runsewe said the immediate objective of the founding fathers was to heal the wounds that the war inflicted on the country and its people, as well as to restore love among the people.

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