The Government of Osun State at the weekend explained why it is poised to ensure the development of the various festivals that are indigenous to the state to levels of international acceptance as part of the strategies towards raising alternative sources of revenues for the state.
The Government said the festivals have the capacities to draw and ignite international audience participation that could translate to huge revenues for development purposes.
The Special Adviser Information and Strategy, Semiu Okanlawon, stated this in Iwo on Saturday at the palace of Oluwo of Iwo during the 2017 Egungun Festival, which held in the city.
Okanlawon, while stating the position of the government on the need to raise alternative sources of revenues, said already experiences have shown that Nigeria is in the throes of economic hardship, adding that the Governor Rauf Aregbesola-led administration in the state has been futuristic enough to know that oil revenues can no longer be the basis of the state’s future development plans.
He said: “We are lucky in Osun to have a government that is proactive enough to know that oil is drying up and that explains all the ingenious strategies developed by the Aregbesola administration to satisfy workers’ needs and ensure development continues within the limit of the state’s meagre resources.
“This government is serious about its development of tourism, which is a huge revenue earner.
“And this is why this government is committing itself to the development of these local and indigenous festivals such as the Egungun Festival in Iwo here to one that is capable of attracting international audience participation.”
Okanlawon said this determination explains why the government has embarked on renovation works at the popular Osun Osogbo groove and seen to the development of Olojo Festival in Ile Ife and other such festivals in the state.
The Special Adviser also urged indigenes to also look inward for possible business opportunities that the various festivals offer as this could also enhance personal fortunes.
He said the Aregbesola’s administration massive infrastructure projects are also part of the avenues to make the state attractive to tourists.
He said: “We are aware some people query this government’s unwavering commitment to completing the projects even in the face of paucity of funds. We do not blame them. It is our duty to carry them along in the development strategies and make them embrace the fact that these good roads, highly sophisticated security equipment, cleaner environment, urban renewal, good education infrastructure are all aimed at making our state attractive to tourists.”
It was a colorful spectacle at the palace of Oluwo of Iwo, Oba AbdulRasheed Adewale Akanbi, as scores of masquerades paraded, danced and prayed for the monarch, the city and Osun State in general.
Other monarchs who joined the Oluwo for the festival included the Olowu of Kuta, Oba Ibrahim Adekunle Oyelude; and Eburu of Iba, Oba (Prof.) Adekunle Okunoye.
Among prominent indigenes of Iwo who also joined the monarch included a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, who is also the Asiwaju of Iwoland, Chief Gbagesin Adedeji; and a former Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Bola Asafa.