The Lagos State Government and the Federal Government have concluded plans to host over 15 million Nigerians living abroad in the forthcoming Diaspora Festival scheduled to hold between August 23 and 25, 2017 in Badagry.
Speaking at a news conference jointly addressed at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa on Tuesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa and the Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Oversees Affairs and Investment, Professor Ademola Abass, both governments said the festival, which would be a replica of the 1977 Festival of Arts and Culture otherwise known as FESTAC 77, had been designed to assist Africans in diaspora to reunite with their ancestral roots.
Apart from putting issues of Africans in diaspora on the front burner, the festival, according to Dabiri-Erewa, would also provide platform to showcase the rich cultural heritage of Lagos State and Nigeria to the world and also promote tourism potentials of the country.
The presidential aide, who commended Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for throwing his weight behind the festival, said the event would host the largest gathering of Africans in the world, and that it was a thing of joy that many Africans in diaspora had already indicated interest in tracing their roots back home.
She said: “For the first time, we have been having in Badagry a festival that brings people in the diaspora together but when we attended this festival few years ago, we sat together and said this would be the biggest cultural event to come out of Africa and so after years of planning, we have been able to come out with this programme this year coming up on August 23 to 25.
“United Nations already has declared ten years as decade for Africa, and so within the said decade, Nigeria in particular, and Lagos will be putting up one of the biggest gatherings of diaspora all over the world that will gather in Badagry later this year.
“One of the unique events of the festival is the ‘Door of Return’. A lot of people and things were taken out of Africa and Badagry in particular, and so our people in diaspora would be coming back through that door that we are calling the Door of Return, which is the opposite of ‘Point of no Return. Beyond that, we will be showcasing the beauty and culture of Lagos State in particular and Nigeria in general through the festival,” Dabiri-Erewa said.
Responding to questions on number of people in the diaspora expected to grace the festival, Dabiri-Erewa said many Nigerians in the diaspora have already indicated interest to be part of it, adding: “We don’t have an accurate database but we are working on 15 million Nigerians in the diaspora and a lot of them are already coming.”