Saturday, 11 November 2023 will remain etched in the memories of fun-lovers in the Heartbeat State of Edo as youths from across the state and distinguished artists stormed the Sir Victor Uwaifo Creative Hub on Airport Road, Benin City, for the 2023 Alaghodaro Youth Concert.

The artists, including Influence Akaba, Goya Menor, Skales, DJ Sose, Boy Spyce, the ItenEdo of Benin, among others took to the stage to serenade the audience with vibes that moved everyone to move their bodies.

The Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, who was present at the event, projected that Edo would take over Nigeria’s culture capital in the next five to ten years.

“I think I am the happiest governor alive today, because seven years ago when we came into government, we did not have any of this. A lot of our young people at this time will be at Ikpoba Hill, trying to get onto a bus, ‘God is Good’ or whatever it is, to get to Kano so that they can get to Libya,” Obaseki said in his keynote address at the event.

“In seven years, we have changed the narrative in the state. They used to laugh at us, they said terrible things about Edo. They tried to bring us down. Today there is ‘Edo pride’. We are all proud that we are Edo citizens. We don’t need the world to certify us because for 500 years or more, what you are seeing today has been here with us.

“The creativity, the innovations, of those that built this empire, of those that created those beautiful artworks that the world stole away from us, of those that dug the moats and created all the monuments we have here, the same blood that flowed in their veins 500 years ago still flows in our veins today.

“So, we are re-enacting Edo; 70 percent of the population of Edo are young people under the age of 30, so for us as a government, you are our priority. Let them fight us, let them do whatever they like, we will continue to invest in you,” he said.

Governor Obaseki described the Sir Victor Uwaifo Stage and Creative Hub, where the event was held, as second to none in Nigeria.

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The governor appreciated all the artists who performed, saying, “We are so proud of you. You’ve made us proud.”

He promised, by the grace of God, to bring Rema home this Christmas for a homecoming concert.

“This is the beginning and we expect that in the next five to ten years, Edo will take over Nigeria as a culture capital. Before I leave, I will make sure that I put in place everything that is required to make Edo the art and culture capital of West Africa.

“Edo youths, by this time next year, at this particular time, I will not be governor of Edo State again, but by the grace of God, you will help me select a governor that will serve your interest. Did you hear me? Any governor who does not believe in culture and arts and the creative industry cannot be governor of Edo State. Any person who does not believe in the youths of Edo cannot be the governor of Edo State. Do you want all of these to stop? This is just the beginning and we need somebody to build on what we have started; we need somebody to support all these artists and many more that we are beginning to discover,” he said.

The governor told the youths that Nigeria will be Nigeria, but Edo will be Edo. He thanked everyone who has supported the government in the last seven years.

“You have supported us to do all the things we have done. You have joined us, you have fought for us, and you know the fight has been fierce. The fight has been because of you, we refused to continue the old way.

“I said I will not share the money, I will use the money to work for you, even if they will chide me and tonight you are seeing what the money has done here. We must continue in this direction; nothing shall stop us, so be courageous.

“Edo is unique, all of you young people here can be global superstars. The talent is in you, you already have it and we want a government that will help you express that creative genius in all of you. Whether it is in music, fun, fashion, design, theatre, or whatever it is in terms of creativity, we will support you as a government. God bless Edo State and God will bless Nigeria,” he said.

The climax of the Alaghodaro Youth Concert was the presentation of a special art piece to Governor Obaseki by Favour Ehizogie of Afro Heights Artists School.

While presenting the gift to the governor, Ehizogie remarked, “Pride of Edo State, my company has developed different products from this. One of the most popular pendants we see around is developed by my company and by God’s grace, we brought a box of it for the governor today.

“Your Excellency, I am hoping that with your help, we will be able to make a monumental size of this one, about 50ft plus for the state, so that like the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower, people can come from all over the world to see big pieces of art like this. On behalf of the youths of Edo State, we present to you this special art piece.”

The Alaghodaro Youth Concert came as part of activities lined up for this year’s Alaghodaro Summit, a yearly summit organised by the Edo State government, in partnership with the private sector, to mark the anniversary of Governor Obaseki in office and showcase the progress being recorded in transforming the state into an investment haven.

This year’s summit, the seventh edition, was held under the theme “The Edo Story: Creating Shared Opportunities into the Future”.