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Osemwegie-Ero and his tourism dreams beyond Edo festival

The Edo festival will also serve as a strategic vehicle to showcase Edo culinary and fashion advancement over the years

Frank Meke

Come early December, Nigerians, including the Binis and their friends over the world, will come to terms with the full measure of Edo cultural endowments beyond dance and entertainment. Under the watch of Osaze Osemwegie-Ero, Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, a strategic intent to reinvent the powerful narratives of Edo history will drive the bastion of hope in harnessing arts and culture for sustainable economic development of the heartbeat of the former Mid-West Region of Nigeria.

Edo State governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, in whose name Osemwegie-Ero seems to flow in oratorical confidence, is believed to have given the marching orders to use the festival as a united front to showcase the love of Edo people for their famed but neglected culture and, above all, create a new bankable socio-cultural economy.

READ ALSO: Obaseki honours late old Bendel governor, Ambrose Alli
Osemwegie-Ero

Also, Edo’s highly revered monarch, His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba Nedo’ Uku Akpolor Kpolor, Oba Ewuare II, Oba of Benin ancient kingdom, will throw the palace grounds open for the first-ever photo exhibition of iconic ancient Bini arts and craft carted away during European invasion of the Benin kingdom many centuries ago.

READ ALSO: Oba of Benin reaffirms Okaeghele’s position in Obaretin

According to the commissioner, who is seen among tourism stakeholders in the state, including the ministry staff, as the true representative of a caring tourism and culture leader, the Edo festival will also serve as a strategic vehicle to showcase Edo culinary and fashion advancement over the years, with intent to husband and export same to the world that has heard so much of Edo people yet has no definitive connection to this proud race ravaged by the exploitative military might of the colonialists.

To push for broader perspective on the festival, I paid the commissioner a visit at his Block D, 6th floor office at the secretariat on Court Road, and this is how it went; enjoy the piece.

On Edo festival 2018

The governor has assured of us of full support and also the Oba is behind us; so, we promise a new refreshing narrative on our culture and rich history.

Mere drum beats for entertainment?

We are doing it to help the Bini people to appreciate their culture and test the waters for economic and sustainable developmental process. We believe that cultural tourism is an economy and the best way to get the facts to support its future as job creation mechanism to go out there and let our people and the investing tourism world see what we have in our state beyond what the outside world claims to know about us.

Festival’s key content

Food, fashion, concert, pictorial exhibition of iconic Benin arts and craft in foreign hands and over 50 potential tourism sites scattered all over Edo State yet unknown and developed.

Why photo exhibition?

We wish to reawaken a positive restitution of our major artifacts in foreign hands. It a very amazing revelation and we believe that some of those prized items should be shipped back to us as we are willing to negotiate their repatriation to us. Indeed, there is nothing wrong for those who held our artifacts captive to come to Edo and invest in training of our people or build museums to house these products for sustainable socio-economic development. To drive this outing, we are inviting major and concerned embassies, the local and international media to come witness what we lost to the ravaging army of European colonialists.

Role of stakeholders

The governor is conscious of the fact that hospitality, tourism and transport operators need a level playing field to grow and support our developmental agenda. Towards this end, my ministry encourages full and open participation of all concerned. So far, we allow everyone to access us at the ministry without let and in turn market and be part of our position and agenda of development.

No rancor so far because we must first invest in our tourism operators, expose them to best international practices, avoid multiple taxation and show leadership that could enhance our profile as the emerging hub for tourism in Africa. In fact, my dream is to make Edo tourism the economic poster product of Obaseki administration. It is doable and we are ready.

Transport/logistics

We intend to float a website to encourage all hands on the deck. As you are aware, Edo transporters are some of the best in Nigeria and they play a major role in getting everybody to come for the festival. At the airport, we now have a special desk to make hotel and hospitality enquiries possible. It is a one stop tourism supermarket and packaged by one of our partners, Viko Nigeria Ltd.

Beyond Edo Fest

We intend to do a tourism master plan to help us in sustainable developmental parameters and to guide investment. I see my appointment as a privilege and had resolved to put Edo in the world tourism destination map. There are a lot of to harness, polish and market but we must start from somewhere. Indeed, we have a very rich heritage, far more enduring that anyone could imagine. Every house or district in Edo State is a living museum and you could imagine what we have here for the world to see.

Eco-tourism

The governor has banned open logging and has given directives to restore of some lost forest ecosystem. Though a national park, Okomu is a major representative eco-tourism haven to which we intend to partner with the federal government to sustain. We have other potential UNESCO sites and one of the most protected green environment in Nigeria. To drive around Edo, gives you a firsthand contact with our agenda to make Edo green again. The best is however yet to come.

READ ALSO: Ogun adopts eco-tourism to boost forestry sector

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