Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Thursday said that the Ojude-Oba festival in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun, has the potential to transform tourism in the country.
Saraki, who was the special guest of honour at the Ojude-Oba festival held in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun, also commended the organisers of the event for giving it international recognition.
Saraki said the country would do well to draw from the festival’s potential to drive alternate income generation and create additional employment opportunities for indigenous youths.
The senate president used the opportunity to call on Nigerians to remain united to foster growth and development, stressing the importance of peace in nation-building.
He said: “The Ojude-Oba can be a source of revenue that can employ thousands of people and promote the image of the country in good stead.
“The festival today is amongst the top carnivals in our nation when we talk about the resilience and dynamics of culture as the Ojude-Oba is a reference point.
“It is my hope that we can enforce and promote the ideals of the festival in culture and tourism development.
“This festival is a testament to the fact that, where there is strong leadership, we can see progress in the country.
“Ojude-Oba is already setting the pace and we hope we can see more of this in Africa as I congratulate you for this historical feat.”
The Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona thanked the senate president and Ijebu indigenes for the honour and support toward the success of this year’s Ojude-Oba festival.
Adetona called for continued peace in Ijebuland and urged politicians not to heat up the polity as the 2019 general elections approach.
The monarch also urged the Federal Government to explore more ways to exploit the potentials of tourism for the socio-economic development of the nation.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on the sidelines of the event, Muyiwa Oladipo, the Ogun Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, said the Ojude-Oba festival was promoting the culture of the Ijebu people and Ogun in general.
Ben-Murray Bruce, the senator representing Bayelsa East in the Senate, also said the Federal Government was not doing enough to tap the potentials of tourism.
He called for improved budgetary allocation to tourism with a focus on revamping the sector for the benefit of future generations.
Bruce said: “Tourism is a gold mine we have not fully exploited, it’s a business with endless possibilities.”
NAN reports that the event was widely attended by guests and visitors in spite of the intermittent rainfall during the programme.
Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who was absent for the first time since the inception of his administration in 2011, was represented by his deputy, Yetunga Onanuga.
There was mild drama at the event when some people wielding brooms in support of the All Progressives Congress began shouting “Sai Baba,” a political slogan associated with President Muhammadu Buhari.
They were, however, reprimanded by the Awujale, who said that the Ojude-Oba was not a platform for partisan politics.