Osun Looks to Tourism for Economic Rebound

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Omolabake Fasogbon

Osun State which is listed to be among the 10 poorest states in Nigeria may soon be competing economically with other strong economies as it embarks on a determined journey to harness the potentials in tourism.

The governor of the state, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola declared that tourism, beyond its application as an instrument of cultural projection, would be fully explored to reposition and strengthen the state’s economy and the country at large.

Aregbesola made this declaration recently, through the Osun state’s Director General ,Office of Economic and Partnership, Dr. Charles Akinola, at the official unveiling of the Olojo Festival logo which was done amidst much glamour and glitz at the Ooni of Ife’s Palace in Ile Ife, Osun State.

The historical Olojo Festival will be given a facelift this year as plans and arrangements are on ground to make its attract global attention and to promote and enhance the richness in Yoruba culture and tradition.

According to the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Eniitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II who strongly believed that Osun State and Nigeria could make a huge fortune and earn global recognition through tourism, lamented the inadequate attention given the sector.

He said , “especially now that the economy of the country is suffering some set back, it is important that government at all levels invest massively in our heritage to save the country.

Speaking more on the festival, the Ooni noted that celebrating Olojo feast was beyond merry making as it was an authority being mandated by Oduduwa which would bring about positive changes in the state and Yoruba land in general.

“To make this year’s event more impactful and glamorous, we have partnered with Infogem, a marketing company, who will work with us to drive home our mission at rebranding and reverberating the festival such that it will be a talk of the world and compel the state to be a global tourist site. This is indeed a new dawn for Osun State and the entire Yorubas.”

Shedding more light on the importance of the festival, Chairman, Olojo Festival Advisory Committee who is also the Obalufe of Iremo Quarters, Ile-Ife, Oba Idowu Adediwura, said that the rebranding process of the Olojo festival was basically to conceptualise a new dawn in the history of Ile-Ife especially as it relates to the beginning of human existence.

He said “Olojo is a festival that commemorates the descent of Oduduwa to Ile-Ife, Osun State. It is the celebration of the first dawn, the first afternoon and first night in creation; celebrated only in land of expansion, Ile-Ife”.

The new logo as he explained captures the ‘Aare Sacred Beaded Crown’ ,which is the only physical symbol of authority the Ooni inherited from his ancestors. It is believed to have been made from many items, such as cutlasses, hoes and 149 undisclosed objects that descended from heaven. This sacred beaded crown is adorned by the reigning Ooni once in a year during the Olojo cultural procession.

Other elements on the logo include : appearance of the new dawn, “Ojo”, Ile-Ife, the Ori Olokun insignia, year 2016, colour purple and a red ribbon.

He added that “the appearance of the new dawn marked the Olojo as it basically signifies the day of creation. References can be sighted from evolution in science and the Holy Books-Quran and Bible where the creation of day and night was explained clearly.

The governor of the state commended the strident effort of the monarch at ensuring Yoruba unity, cultural renaissance and socio-economic development of Ile-Ife.

Aregbesola who made reference to how other nations like France, China and a host of others improved their economies through the exhibition of their respective cultures, pointed out that the state had learnt from these countries and ready to upgrade its financial status through tourism.

He said , “Beyond cultural projection, there is the economic imperative of culture, foremost of which is tourism. We can build a thriving economy around our culture and monuments. The annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Jerusalem and Rome are distinct economies that sustain these countries.

“Already, the state has a tourism masterplan and has been developing it within the possible financial circumstances. What is most important now is for entrepreneurs and those interested to partner with us in order for our state and people to benefit from this tourism money-spinner”.