Meet The CEO With Lieutenant Colonel Akwanga Yusuf Bello (Lt. COL. AY Bello)
C.E.O Nasarawa International Festival (NifestNG Group).
Lieutenant Colonel AY Bello is not just a military officer or just an entertainment mogul but also a philanthropist who has not only helped and is helping entertainers but also rendering assistance to anyone that needed one from him not excluding BestXplorer Media.
NifestNG as an entity has helped lots of entertainers in Nasarawa state and Abuja as well. The group has partner with Federal and state Government in achieving some goals within Nasarawa state.
NifestNG has hosts tons of beneficial events and the CEO has made some special appearances with A.A Sule the executive Governor of Nasarawa state, Lai Mohammed Minister of Information, the deputy Governor of Nasarawa State and the likes of Chief Ochacho of Benue State, Davido, Zlatan, Peruzzi, Magnito, Hamisu Breaker, BOC etc.
Bestxplorer has reached out to him and he has shared a lot about him and NifestNG.
Read our interview section with him below and get to know his Aims, Achievements, Expectations, Future Plans & his Educational Background.
BX: Sir can you tell us how you came up with the idea of starting this brand?
AY BELLO: The idea about NifestNG came up because of the need to replicate what is happening around the world like Dia de los Muertos, Mexico, Rio de Janeiro Carnival, Brazil Mardi Gras Festival, New Orleans, U.S.A. and other several festivals around the world. When we come back home one of the most successful festival we have in the South South is the Calabar Festival. Then Up North the Argungu Fishing Festival and other festivals around the country. So these festivals are income earners for those states because a lot of tourism activities that supports job creation, local businesses and other socio-economic activities happens before, during and after the events. E.g small businesses like the sachet water (pure water) sellers will make more sales hence more profits. So I sat down and thought that if we can put up similar festivals in Nasarawa State, it’ll also go a long way in generating employment, internally generated revenue and will also put Nasarawa State on the world tourism map and bringing in tourists to the State. So that is the idea.
When we started the idea of NifestNG (Nasarawa International Festival Group), it wasn’t really a group, it was supposed to be “Nasarawa International Festival” but when we presented it to the Government, the Government decided that rather than naming it International Festival, we should make it a cultural festival. So we then rebranded the name of the festival and named it Nasarawa Cultural Festival (NACFEST) which was first held in December 2019. We then rebranded Nasarawa International Festival into Nasarawa International Festival Group(NifestNG) because it’s already a registered company with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and with all the other things that is required including the bank account too.
BX: What year did NifestNG began operation or was launched?
AY BELLO: We formed Nasarawa International Festival Group (NifestNG) 3 years ago but the idea came up 4 years back. So what NifestNG has rebranded herself into is; to be an tourism and entertainment outfit that partners with anybody that is into same. This is why we called it a group.
It is a Group where people come and go based on their interests and free time they have to work within the group but there are permanent members in the group. Why people come and go is because; when we are partnering with you on a project we all work with you, when the project is done with, and you want to assist us and work with us on our next project, you can remain with us. if you want to continue with other endeavours, then when we are calling for a meeting to do other projects, we won’t contact you. That is how the group operates.
BX: What are the aims?
AY BELLO: Our group aims at:
1. Putting Nasarawa State on world tourism map.
2. Creating a world class entertainment space in Nasarawa State through hosting standard events and supporting other event planners and organizers achieve quality standards.
3. Promote Nasarawa State musicians by creating avenues for them to blow up.
4. Support any endeavours that promote the image and internally generated revenue of Nasarawa State.
BX: Can we know what NifestNG has already achieved?
AY BELLO: We did Nasarawa Cultural Festival, Then we also did other activities like the NifestNG Hangout, Annual Sarki Sidi Bage Dambe Competition, Queen’s Corner Grand Opening at Keffi, NifestNG Icon 2021, NifestNG Dance Challenge, supported various events that are too numerous to mention that are done by other event organizers and we are currently leading initiative of establishing the Nasarawa State Film Village tagged “Nasarawood” at the Farin Ruwa Water Falls in Wamba L.G.A. We brought up the idea and design the full architectural work and model for same. The project is yet to take off but the Government is highly interested and has approved it. Hopefully, the project will commence sooner than later.
BX: Can you tell us about NifestNG future plans and expectations?
AY BELLO: Now going forward; what we’re trying to do is, we’re trying to create a Hub in Abuja where we’ll be able to do some events there, bring in artistes from Nasarawa State so that we can make them more popular and known with the aim blow them up. So we are into not just organizing entertainment events but we are into music production too. We’ve recorded some songs already with some popular artistes in Nasarawa State and some outside Nasarawa State with the aim of releasing an album of collaborations. It is a project we are still working on, we’ve done most of the recordings.
Why we’re creating an entertaining Hub in Abuja is because most of our activities will spring up from here to Nasarawa State from now. We believe that doing things in Nasarawa State and bringing it to Abuja does not work but once we’re able to create a Hub in Abuja and bring artistes(musicians, comedians, actors etc) from Nasarawa State, these artistes will get popular and they will become mainstream in the short or long run. That’s the idea!!!
So Nasarawa Cultural Festival (NACFEST) will continue but because of the economic downturn in the country now, people don’t view that as something worthwhile because they wrongly feel is a waste of resources. But they don’t know that it’s something you have to continue year in-year out and once you continue, it continues to grow and grow until you get to the point whereby it takes a life of its own and becomes as big as other ones around the world.
Our hub in Abuja is Mambaah Cafe, Maitama. Currently there is a show which we are partnering with MC Analog to organize on the 10th December. It’s going to be the acid test of our Abuja plans. We actually partner with anybody that share our vision.
We opened Queen’s Corner Event Centre in Keffi to be another hub. During the opening ceremony, we invited a lot of artistes that adjudged the Centre and the event as very excellent. This is going to be our entertainment hub in Keffi. We urge all artistes to take advantage of the discounted services we provide there. So we are upping the game in entertainment industry in Nasarawa State with the aim to make our entertainment industry popular not just around Nigeria but all over the world.
BX: We believed every organization has a challenges, so what are the challenges you’re facing or had faced?
AY BELLO: Yeah! we have challenges and some of the challenges are;
1. People don’t usually like investing in tourism and entertainment especially in Nasarawa State. So there are people that have deep pockets but they are not really willing to do that. So getting sponsors or partners for some ideas is very hard or not even possible at the moment.
A lot of people organizing events have reached out to us for one sponsorship to the other. The ones we can afford, we usually support them. That is why any flyer or banner that you see our logo on it, it means that we are giving them one form of support or the other. But we are sad that we can’t support everyone but everyone deserves support to grow.
BX: If you wouldn’t mind, can we have a glance of your educational background?
AY BELLO: In terms of my educational background, I went to Gado Nasko Model Primary School, Gwagwalada, Abuja. When I finished from there, I went to School for the Gifted in the same Gwagwalada, Abuja and graduated there.
From there I moved to University Of Abuja to read Law but they offered me History and so I reluctantly decided to read History. I finished from University of Abuja as a Historian in 2005. Then after my Youth Service, I applied for the Nigerian Army and went for 6 months intensive training at Infantry Corps Centre, Jaji, Kaduna and I became a Lieutenant. After being posted to Nigerian Army School of Education, Ilorin, Kwara State, I applied for Master’s Degrees in History at the University of Ilorin and graduated. After which I was posted to several army units before becoming the Commandant of the newly established Command Science Secondary School Lafia(CSSSL). I must not forget to say that because of my love for Nasarawa State and the zeal I have for education of the younger generations, I brought up the idea of establishing all the Command Schools you know in Nasarawa State and worked as the Liaison Officer between the Nasarawa State Government under Governor Umaru Tank Al-Makura and the Nigerian Army under General Tukur Buratai to ensure the establishment of the schools as we have them now in Lafia, Rinze-Akwanga and Agwada. When I got to Lafia as the Commandant, the Federal University Lafia started their Ph.D program. I decided to start my Ph.D in History and International Studies. So far so good, am almost done with the Ph.D program and all that is left for me are the internal and external defence of my Ph.D thesis. So I am currently waiting for them to set up the day that we will come for internal defence then the external defence. So I was hoping that this year, they would call me for both but the threat from ASUU to embark on another strike again might make it impossible this year. But once we’re done with all this, I will be a Doctor of History And International Relations.
So far, I’ve undergone several military trainings under the Nigerian Army and I’ve gone on several courses and conferences both in Nigeria and abroad. I’ve gone on several study tours both within and outside the country while currently serving at National Defence College, Abuja.
MEMBERSHIP OF PROFESSIONAL BODIES
I belong to two (2) professionals bodies that is; (ICMC) Institute Of Chartered Mediators And Conciliators of Nigeria and Nigeria Institute Of Management (NIM).
AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS
Both NifestNG and I have received several awards like Brand of the Year 2021 and Event Planner of the Year 2021 (Nasarawa Merit Choice Award), Most Supportive Brand of the Year 2021 (Face of Akwanga and Awards) etc. Face of Democracy Nasarawa State Awarded me with an Achiever’s Award of being the Most Youth Promoter and Supportive Personality 2020, Total Strikers Football Club awarded me with an Award of Excellence for Selfless Service to Humanity and several other academic, tourism and entertainment awards that are too numerous to mention here.
BX: Thank you for given us your time and may God bless you and bless NifestNG Group
AY BELLO: Thank you for your time.
God bless Nasarawa State and Nigeria!!!
Kindly follow him and NifestNG on social media
@mainasaraaaa and @NifestNG on all social media.