As local and international tourists’ troop into Epe to celebrate Kayokayo Festival, the traditional ruler of Epe Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, Oba Shefiu Olatunji Adewale, has commended the Governor of Lagos, Akinwumi Ambode for his plan to make the area a tourist destination in Nigeria.
Oba Adewale, who recognised the aquatic gift of Epe and Lagos State as huge source of revenues for the state in the nearest future, noted that the clearing of the Marina in Epe in preparation for development means that a very important project that would boost the tourism potential of the town was in the offing but that only the state government can say what the project is all about.
According to him, “I am privy to the development of the Marina and you will see that every structure has been cleared for development. I don’t want to say more than that. It is the government that will tell the world what it wants to do.”
The Bamgbopa Esinlokun 1 gave the commendation while speaking to select journalists on this year’s Kayokayo Carnival in his palace in Epe yesterday.
The Oba stated that the Kayokayo festival was as old as Epe itself and that in the past Epe people usually celebrate the festival by visiting families, eat and be filled.
He said that the meaning of the Kayokayo festival is “Eat and Be filled”, adding that one of the essence of the festival is to remember the late King Kosoko, who came into Epe in 1851 with 1,500 people.
Going back memory lane, Oba Adewale hinted that Kosoko in 1851 came into Epe in a boat from Lagos and that this has also been embedded into the Kayokayo festival.
According to him, “We are going to be in a boat to depict King Kosoko”.
He added that then, there was no electricity but that the people of Epe used to bind sticks together and light it to provide light.
The Olu Epe of Epe Kingdom disclosed that as part of efforts to make the historical and tourist event glamorous, notable dignitaries from far and near have been invited to celebrate with the Epe people.
The Oba said that part of the Kayokayo festival is to go to the Marina to have a cold bath to depict the coming of King Kosoko into Epe from Lagos in 1851.
The traditional ruler said that the people of Epe have been celebrating the Kayokayo festival for several years and that t has been very successful.
The scope of the festival the royal father stated had been expanded ,as the Kayokayo festival which used to be a day celebration had been expanded to last for one week in addition to other programmes that had been lined up for the event.
On the preparedness of the Epe people for the development of the area and the benefit such as attracting tourists, Oba Adewale said that the Epe people are prepared; adding that with the coming of the present administration led by Ambode, who is also from Epe, the town has taken a new shape.
The people of Epe , he added have been praying for this development and that God has finally answered the kingdom’s prayers, showering praises on the former Governor of Lagos State and the National Leader of All Progressive Congress(APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for nominating Epe son; Ambode as the governor.
In his words, “We have been praying all these years that God should give somebody that will develop and open up Epe and today God has answered our prayers.”
On the level of development in Epe within one year of Ambode’s administration, Oba Adewale said that Epe has been under developed but that governor Ambode has come to open up the place.
The underdevelopment of the town, he said was due to the crisis between the Ijebu and Eko Epe, but that happily the crisis has ended and that the two Epes have united to move Epe forward.
According to him, The Ijebu and Eko Epe have united, no more crisis, the issues have been resolved and that is part of the progress you are seeing in Epe today.”
He commended the governor for commencing expansion of one of the major roads in Epe and foe embarking on others that are still under construction, adding that when the expansion is completed it will not take more than one hour to get to Lagos.
On what the people of Epe need apart from what is on ground at the moment, the royal father stated that town needed development, adding that apart from the Local Government Area, that employs people, there are no companies in the land, adding that he was very sure that with the steps already taken by the Ambode led administration by next year companies will come and employ Epe people.
Earlier, the Chairman Planning Committee, Kayokayo, Chief Alade Saliu Okula, the Baameto of Epe Kingdom, told journalists that the festival used to be a local event but that it has been expanded to accommodate other events.
He added that in the past to celebrate the event Epe people visits families, eat and be satisfied
The Chairman disclosed that close to 98 per cent of Epe people are Muslims and that this year’s celebration is the first time the planners are inviting virtually all media houses.