By Kayode Fasua
The leadership of the Nigerian Traditionalists and Herbalists Association has lauded the Osun State Government for declaring August 20 a public holiday for all worshippers of traditional religion.
The state governor, Alhaji Adegboyega Oyetola, had declared the day as public holiday following years of agitation by the association for an Isese Day (Creation Day), as the latter had insisted that since holidays were declared for Christians and Muslims, they too deserved the same privilege.
Thanking Governor Oyetola in an interview with THISDAY, the South-West coordinator of the association, High Chief Ismail Akiode, a.k.a Awikonko, said the state government had just demonstrated “the truth that ‘what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.’”
“Now, we the traditionalists and herbalists are being given our pride of place. With this holiday, most of our children who had been deceived into believing in foreign religions will now find the occasion to trace their roots and retrace their steps.
“Apart from that, it will help us to showcase the beauty of the African traditional religions before the whole world, as we will bring to the limelight, all our gods and goddesses that had hitherto been despised.
“And with this, the younger ones who had been led astray by foreign religions will be wooed back home,” Awikonko asserted.
While urging other state authorities to emulate the Osun example, Awikonko lamented what he described as embarrassing trend in which heirs apparent to native traditional leadership positions had been turning down the offers under the guise that they are born-again Christians or Muslims.
“I pity these young ones who don’t know the implications of their action; but with the annual Isese Day as the Osun State Government has started, we will be highlighting the implications of this shortcoming.”
The herbalists and traditionalists’ leader further commended the Osun State Government for the full support given to the celebration of the annual Osun Osogbo Festival that held in the state last week, noting , “With such, there will always be good tidings in Osun.”
While commending President Muhammadu Buhari on the early constitution of his executive cabinet, Awikonko advised the federal government to also give the traditionalists and herbalists their pride of place in national affairs.
“Just as the Osun State Government has given us a public holiday, there is nothing stopping the federal government from emulating the gesture at the national level,” he appealed.