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Osun-Osogbo Festival: FG committed to tourism development, says Lai Mohammed

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Friday, said the Federal Government was committed to the development of domestic tourism sector in the country.

Mohammed, made the remarks at the grand finale of the Osun-Osogbo Festival, saying that development of the sector would make it more attractive to both local and international investors.

The minister was represented at the festival by Mr. Folarin Coker, the Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC).

Mohammed said that the Federal Government would tap into the rich cultural heritage of the Osun-Osogbo Festival, which he said, had been recognised as UNESCO world heritage.

“The uniqueness of this festival is that it attracts local and international devotees of the Osun goddess and it promotes commerce for indigenes and innovative entrepreneurs.

“It has now evolved into an international festival, which we hope with our support, will grow stronger in years to come.

“Our cultural festivals, like Osun-Osogbo, are symbolic for their spiritual, religious, communal and commercial nature.

“And, culture is increasingly an important element of the tourism product in our modern society.

“Our cultural tourism can help reinforce identities, enhance cross cultural understanding and preserve the heritage and culture of an area.

“Cultural tourism can also have positive socioeconomic impacts as witnessed in the annual celebration of the Osun-Osogbo festival.

“Our cultural heritage is a tool of peace and development, but it must stand on a strong foundation of shared responsibility.

“When people, who are united by culture, see themselves as instruments of collective actions in protecting and preserving their cultural sites and festivals, they invariably create a sustainable base for development to thrive.

“At the federal level, we are committed to developing our domestic tourism assets.

“And, it is quite obvious that the Osun-Osogbo Festival is a national tourism asset for the attainment of our domestic tourism objectives,” he said.

In his remarks, Gov. Gboyega Oyetola of Osun, called on devotees and worshipers of the Osun goddess to exploit the spiritual angle of the festival to collectively pray for the peace and security of the state and country.

Oyetola, represented by the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Adebisi Obawale, also urged the devotees in the state to see the festival as an avenue for preaching peace and harmony to others.

“We should be cooperating with other faith to engender religious tolerance and ensure the peace and progress of Osun,” he said.

The festival ended with fanfare, as traditionalists and cultural groups, were paying homage to the host, Oba Jimoh Olaonipekun, the Ataoja of Osogbo.

Meanwhile, thousands of worshippers, devotees and tourists at the grand finale of the Osun-Osogbo festival, on Friday ignored the mandatory wearing of nose marks and social distancing as part of the COVID-19 protocols.

A Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), who was at the Groove, reports that the worshippers and the visitors violated the COVID-19 safety protocols.

Though, the state government had said it would enforce the use of noise masks and social distancing at the festival, there was nothing of such as the worshippers did not observed the protocols.

Earlier, the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, had said  that as part of efforts to control crowd during the festival, government make arrangement for live transmission of the festival.

Obawale, also said virtual platform would be put in place for people to watch the festival without necessarily being at the grove.

In spite of the arrangement made by the state government to streamline the festival to discourage large crowd at the groove in to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, large number of visitors were still trooping into the groove. (NAN)

 

David Abakpa

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