The 33rd National Festival for Arts and Culture (NAFEST 2020) on Sunday night started in Jos with a command performance by hosts, Plateau State.
The weeklong fiesta, which will end on Saturday, has “COVID-19: Cultural Dynamism” as its theme.
The command performance by the cultural troupe of Plateau State highlighted the need for Nigerians to embrace peaceful co-existence through dance, music, poems, melodrama and other cultural renditions.
The troupe also sensitised the audience to the need to adhere to COVID-19 protocols.
Earlier, Otunba Segun Runsewe, Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), organisers of the annual festival, noted the Plateau had a clement weather and a great cultural potential, capable of attracting tourists.
He said that the essence of the festival was to enable the participating states to showcase their culture to the world.
Runsewe commended Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau for the courage he exhibited by hosting the festival in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic and security challenges confronting the state.
“This is the first state to host a big event as this festival amid COVID-19 pandemic; it is quite commendable.
“Jos is the new ‘abroad’ for us now, considering the cool weather and natural environment; let us all take out time to explore the state,” he said.
Also, Tamwakat Weli, Plateau Commissioner for Tourism, Culture and Hospitality, urged states to also take out time to showcase and market their culture.
Weli commended the state governor for hosting the festival in spite the challenges currently facing the state.
She also appreciated Runsewe’s zeal and innovative spirit in ensuring that the promotion of culture continued to take the front burner in spite of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic
“Welcome to the cool city of Plateau; our state hosted NAFEST 24 years ago and we thank God it is happening again,” she said.
In the meantime, security has been beefed up in Jos and environs as NAFEST began in the city.
Stern-looking security personnel have been strategically stationed to provide security in and around the Rwang Pam Stadium, venue of the opening ceremony.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Plateau, ASP Gabriel Ubah, told newsmen that 916 policemen and officers from different divisions under the command had been deployed for the festival.
He said that the deployment was to prevent any breakdown of law and order.
“The personnel have been briefed adequately to carry out their duties professionally,” he said.
Special forces of the Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) have also been stationed to provide security at the entrance of the venue.
The OPSH is the outfit in charge of security in Plateau and southern Kaduna.
Also speaking, Mr Daniel Manjang, the Chairman of Publicity Committee for NAFEST 2020, said that security agencies had been mobilised to ensure that the event took place under a peaceful atmosphere.
“The chairman of the security committee, who is also the Plateau Permanent Secretary for Security, has assured us that nothing is left to chance as far as security for the festival is concerned.
“Security personnel have been stationed at all venues while flashpoints that are prone to breach of law and order are under strict surveillance.
“Just like you are seeing them here in Rwang Pam Stadium, there are others at Langfield Leisure Park, venue of the main events, and Government Technical College, where the contingents are accommodated,” said Manjang, who is also Plateau State Commissioner of Information and Communication.