The Federal Government on Saturday expressed commitment to make the Yauri Boat Rigata and Cultural Festival a global brand to attract domestic and international tourists.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, dropped the hint at the 2020 Yauri Annual Rigata and Cultural Festival, held in Yauri Local Government Area of Kebbi State.
Mohammed also said the ministry was committed to ensuring that the Yauri and other festivals get their pride of place on the global calendar of festivals like the Rio Carnival in Brazil, the Festival of Colours in India, Oktoberfest in Germany, Carnival of Venice in Italy and the Lantern Festival in Taiwan.
He said the well package festivals, which showcase the rich culture of people, from North to South and East to West, could contribute immensely to the nation’s economic and social development.
“This explains why we at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture have made it our policy to support our festivals by not only attending them, but by also helping to raise their profile through massive publicity.
“I am therefore here today with a number of media organisations as part of the efforts to showcase the Yauri Rigata Festival to the world.
“We will not only showcase it in the traditional media, we will showcase it in the social media, which has no national boundaries.
“We will make sure that the world gets to know about the pomp and pageantry of the Yauri Rigata Festival,” the minister said.
Mohammed disclosed that the ministry was in the final stage of publishing a Calendar of National Festivals that would contain the various festivals in the country and the dates on which they are held annually.
The minister, therefore. assured that when the calendar was unveiled, the Yauri Rigata festival would occupy a pride of place in it.
He explained that the essence of the calendar was for tourists, both domestic and international, to be aware so they could plan their attendance ahead.
Mohammed also revealed that the Federal Government had started training festival managers across the country so they could be able to better organise and package festivals to attract the highest number of tourists and maximise their potentials.
“As we all know, these festivals have gone beyond mere entertainments to events that can attract massive financial inflows into their immediate vicinity, the state in which they are located and
indeed the entire country.
“As we continue the training of festival managers, Yauri will definitely be one of the beneficiaries,” he assured.
Earlier, the Emir of Yauri, Dr Muhammad Zayyanu Abdullahi, said the festival was not only about Boat or Canoe racing but a cultural and socioeconomic jamboree of the diverse people of Yauri Emirate.
The monarch said fishermen from as far as the Republic of Mali and other neighbouring countries came to Yauri as an annual routine in order to fish in the waters.
Abdullahi commended Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State for reviving the Rigata festival after it had been dormant for more than 50 years.
On his part, Gov. Bagudu said the festival provided an opportunity for the people of Yauri Emirate to showcase their rich cultural diversity to the world.
The governor said the festival was revived following the improvement in the security situation in the state and the country at large.
“In 2019, His Royal Highness, the Emir of Yauri, decided that the security situation has improved remarkable under President Muhammadu Buhari.
“And therefore is safe enough to begin to gather people and observe this festival and we are celebrating it this year with the bigger audience,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the festival was attended by the Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila; Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Adamu Abdullahi, and traditional rulers.
The event featured the Boat Rigata; canoe swimming and competition.
The Yauri Rigata started about 200 years ago when a flotilla of boats carrying warriors used to protect bridal trains from wild animals in the river as they (bridal trains) move from one island to another in the ancient kingdom.