There are indications that lack of adequate funds may have inhibited the planned hosting of the Bayelsa State cultural festival in December last year.
The State Government had in a bid to preserve and promote the rich culture, tradition and language of its people, early last year, announced plans to introduce the cultural fiesta which will eventually become an annual event.
The Commissioner for Culture and Ijaw National Affairs, Dr. Iti Orugbani, who made the announcement, had said that the State Executive Council (SEC) approved the festival after a memo to that effect was presented to it.
Dr. Orugbani also said among other reasons, the initiative would be to consciously harness, preserve and promote “our rich cultural heritage for the socio-economic development of the state.”
He explained that the festival would also create an avenue to showcase the diverse cultural heritage, talents, spirit of Ijaw identity and to promote peaceful co-existence among the people in the state.
According to him, the event will also provide a platform to project Bayelsa as a peaceful and investment/tourist friendly state to the international community.
But a source in the Ministry of Culture and Ijaw Affairs said the event which is capital intensive, couldn’t hold because the state government did not have what it takes to organize it, adding that the Commissioner too did not help matters.
According to the source, the event would have been held if the Commissioner was proactive enough to get private sector participation but stated that he was relying solely on funding from the government.
“There was no money at all. The festival alone would have cost the government over a hundred million naira. But if the Commissioner had put in some efforts like getting each local government council to sponsor their representatives and also private establishments like multinational companies, the financial burden on government would have reduced”, the source said.
Our correspondent, who tried to reach the Commissioner before the Christmas and New Year celebrations, to confirm why the carnival was not holding, couldn’t as he stopped picking his calls after initially agreeing to grant an interview.
It was however gathered that the festival
which was to feature Street Carnival, Boat Regatta, Canoe Race, Traditional Wrestling, Cultural Dance, Board Game, Native Attires Display and Local Cuisine Exhibition may hold this year.
Other features that were expected include; Arts and Crafts Exhibition, Fishing Spear Demonstration, Fishing Throw Net Display and Variety/Award Night.