Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
In a bid to develop the tourism potentials of Ekiti State and generate revenues as well as boost local economy, the state government has said that it will acquire all local festivals being celebrated in some towns and promote them to gain national ad international recognition.
The Director General, Ekiti State Council for Arts and Culture, Mr. Wale Ojo-Lanre, said the measure will help in promoting the state’s cultural heritage and boost revenue generation in the state.
The Director General spoke in Ado Ekiti on Tuesday when Ogun Onire Carvival Forun, a committee set up by Ire Ekiti for the 2019 edition of the Ogunnire Festival slated for August visited him at his office to unveil its agenda for this year’s celebration.
Ojo-Lanre expressed regret that many of the deities that were of great significance in Ekiti like Ogun and Osun, but were relegated and neglected, were veritable sources of income in other states of the federation.
He said the administration of Dr Kayode Fayemi was committed to the promotion of those sites that were regarded as being historical and strategic to the existence of any town.
“Ogun was a deity that had become so popular in Yoruba race and other climes. And if you look at the myth around it, it has significant connection with Ire Ekiti people, but not much has been done to improve the festival the way Ondo people were doing.
“According to history, the Osun Osogbo originated from Igede Ekiti but we could all attest to the millions of naira being made annually through Osun groove and its celebration by Osun government .
“That is why we have a law that had empowered the state to acquire, protect, project and market local festivals and deities of interest to promote our culture and make money for our dear state.
“If you look at Ogun festival, people only paid obeisance to a man who did well for the people. There was nothing fetish about it and other mythical festivals we are holding to celebrate our past heroes,” he said.
The Director General added that it would seek the collaboration of the towns where the deities are located and corporate organisations to achieve the task.
The Chairman of the Ogun Onire Carnival Forum, Chief Femi Ajayi, appealed to the government to help in rehabilitating the Ogun groove in Ire Ekiti before the 2019 celebration.
Ajayi said the town was particularly happy that the government had taken over the location where the groove was situated, adding that developing the site to an international standard would help the drive to promote the festival to national and international standard.
“We are not going to leave the festival to government alone to promote, we are ready to collaborate because our local economy will witness a radical change when tourists are trooping in and be part of the celebration,” he said.