The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the “Ijakadi” Festival in Offa, Kwara State will be included in the National Festival Calendar in 2018.
The Minister stated this at the grand finale of the 2017 celebration of Ijakadi (traditional wrestling) festival in Offa, near Ilorin in Kwara State.
The festival was also attended by the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, among other prominent dignitaries.
Mohammed, who was a guest of honour at the event, said Ijakadi festival had come to stay and grown from strength to strength in celebration of rich Offa culture.
He said the significance of the festival was not just about the history of the people, rather a celebration of the virtues of “equity, justice and wisdom”.
The Minister said the festival also showcased the affinity between the Offa and Ile-Ife, and how Moremi Ajasoro, the daughter of Offa, rescued the Ife Kingdom from the “Igbo” marauder.
Mohammed said: “The festival is significant to our culture because it tells us that we are people with very rich cultural background and strong morals.
“What we have come here to celebrate is history that dated back to 14th century.
“We have an MoU with the British Council through which every year we train festival managers all over the country.
“I want to assure you that the Ijakadi festival will benefit from this training.
“This kind of festival is one of the reasons why this government has placed so much emphasis on our culture being encouraged and we are going to put Offa in the world map.”
The minister said the government would assist to put the festival on the world records to attract people from across the globe.
The traditional ruler of Offa, Oba Mufutau Okikiola, thanked the two ministers and other dignitaries for attending the festival.
Okikiola said the annual event was an opportunity to bring the Offa indigenes home and abroad together to celebrate the rich heritage and culture of the ancient town and its tourism industry potential.
The Oba called on the Federal Government to give traditional institution the opportunity to contribute to national development.
Also speaking, the National President of Offa Descendant Union, Alhaji Najeem Yasin, said the festival had come to stay.
Yasin, who is the National President of National Union of Road Transport Workers, urged the government to include the festival in national calendar to attract tourists in and outside the country.