Ex-militant leader and convener of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND),
High Chief Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo (aka Tompolo) has prayed for a peaceful poll in 2023, saying that there could no meaningful development in the Niger Delta region and Nigeria without a stable polity at all levels of governance.
He stated this at the 3-Day Cultural Festival at Biniebi-Ama, host community of Biniebi Madinohbou Cultural Festival in Ogulagha Kingdom in Delta State.
In a related development, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Bayelsa State Governor on Tourism, Mr Piriye Kiyaramo, has called on the federal government to enlist the festival on the national tourism calendar.
Mr Kiyaramo said the festival created a levelling ground for all participants such that everyone drank and ate from same glasses and plates, which demostrates the true brotherly love among the Ijaws.
According to the SSA, the the central message of the festival which focused on promoting purity, humility and love within the Ijaw ethnic nationality, reminds Ijaws of their resilience and rich cultural heritage which could be explored to promote cultural tourism.
According to him, “cultural festivals bring happiness to our lives, and strengthen our sense of community as much as they connect us as a people.”
He noted that local festivals have the components of fun through social engagements and wealth creation by showcasing the tradition and culture of the host community, including their dance, music, cultural attires, delicacies, and performance of their religious rites.
“Cultural festivals like Biniebi-Madinorhbou foster respect and open-mindedness towards one another, celebrating our differences, as well as our common interests, helping to unite and educate the younger generation to understand other’s perspectives, to broaden our own, and to fully experience and educate ourselves.
“The economic benefits of festivals are easiest to see. Festivals attract visitors to the host community, which stimulates commercial activities to grow the local economy. Cultural events are events designed for entertainment and enjoyment of a more or less wide audience at the community setting.”
On his part, the Traditional Prime Minister and member of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Hon. High Chief Macdonald Igbadiwei, who chaired the festival, stressed on the need to honour women, reiterating that: “until Ijaws learn to honour their women and treat them as treasures, socio-economic development will continue to elude us.”
High Chief Macdonald Igbadiwei thanked the various communities that attended the 3-Day Bini-ebi Madinorhbou Cultural Festival while promising them an impressive event next year.
High point of the festival was inter-community dancing competition where Agoro community came first to win cash prize of N50,000; Gbaramatu community came second and went home with N30,000 cash prize while Okoloba community took third position with N20,000 cash prize.