The Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Diaspora Affairs, Hon. Osaze Osemwegie-Ero has disclosed plans by the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration to revive and rebrand 58 tourist sites across the state.
Osemwegie-Ero made the disclosure while receiving members of the Benin Cultural Heritage Centre, on a courtesy visit, led by Squadron Leader Ehi Ighile (rtd.), on Friday.
According to him: “Governor Obaseki has handed over his vision to promote arts and culture in the state to us and has given us a marching order to identify all the cultural and tourism assets in all parts of the state, be it a festival or site, and repackage them for domestic and international tourists.”
He said the Aba Festival that was recently held in Igarra, Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of the state, boosted the local economy with about N450million naira.
He added that the tourist receipts were injected into the state economy by the over one million people who graced the occasion from all over Nigeria and the Diaspora.
“The festival was a huge success due to the presence and participation of the Edo State Government, which is committed to supporting all the cultural festivals brought to its notice in the state,” Osemwegie-Ero said.
“Our moat is a major tourist attraction and can be compared to the walls of China, but it has suffered neglect over the years. The vision of the present administration is to maintain and beautify the moat across the city and make it a tourist attraction that will generate revenue for the state.”
He assured that the state government was prepared to develop the 58 tourist sites into world class sites to attract visitors from all over the world and told his visitors that his ministry was working with the Ministry of Education to ensure that Edo Language is part of the curriculum of primary, secondary and tertiary institutions of learning across the state.
He expressed the readiness of the Obaseki’s led administration to raise the profile of Igun bronze works, promote the rich cultural heritage of the people of Benin Kingdom and create wealth for the artisans and state government.
Members of the Benin Cultural Heritage Centre, led by Squadron Leader Ehi Ighile (rtd.), said the non- partisan and non-governmental organisation, with over 100 members, is committed to promoting the glory of the Benin people.He said the Benin Kingdom ruled the world for over 400 years before it was conquered by the British and the advancements in the Arts led to the adoption of the Queen Idia mask as the symbol of FESTAC 77.
“As a body, we have held discussions with the Ministry of Education on the lack of Edo teachers in our schools. We have decided to train 300 teachers to teach the language in our schools,” he said.
He explained that another achievement of the group is the planned Benin Cultural Heritage Complex, which will be built on a land given to the body by the Oba of Benin, for which the group has been receiving donations from people at home and in the Diaspora.